Having the right travel toys for toddlers on planes can be the difference between a happily occupied baby or an hours-long tantrum plus a plane full of new enemies. When you’re traveling with your kids, packing travel toys for toddlers might not be the first priority. You tend to pack your travel bag with the necessities first, like snack containers and kid-friendly hand sanitizer. You might be afraid of diaper blowouts or scary turbulence, but travel toys should also be top of mind. After all, the last thing you want to do at 30,000 feet is realize you have absolutely nothing to keep your child entertained. (Sorry but the corny jokes for kids don’t always cut it, Mama.)
As an adult, flying with (or near) small children is one of the top three most tedious experiences in life. If the child isn’t yours, you can order some snacks, turn on a loud movie, and try to power through it. But as a parent, there is no way around it. It’s going to suck, and I find it best to just accept that you will spend the entire flight wondering if you actually died on the way to the airport and the flight is you in actual hell. That way, if the trip just ends up being boring and long, it feels like a win!
In their defense, toddlers are just learning to walk and have super short attention spans, so being confined to a seat for hours at a time is literally torture for them. While no amount of in-flight movies or tiny bags of peanuts can help, the art of distraction can.
How do I keep my 2-year-old entertained on a flight?
The best strategy is to be sympathetic to their growing brains and limited patience and have plenty of toys on hand to keep them as calm and entertained as possible. (And snacks. Don’t forget the snacks.) The best plane toys for kids are anything that keeps them quiet, requires little to no cleanup, and can be stashed in a diaper bag or carry-on without taking up too much space (because checking bags is EXPENSIVE and I am CHEAP).
Below, check out the best plane toys for toddlers so y’all can conquer this treacherous journey in peace. Godspeed, my friend. See you on the other side.
Best Travel Toys For Toddlers On A Plane
With over 1,200 5-star ratings on Amazon, this educational Busy Book helps toddlers practice basic skills like buttoning and buckling, and it’s completely silent. The plush design and soft handle make it a great travel toy for travel, and if it gets funky from the airplane, it’s machine washable.
Giving credit where it’s due, Crayola consistently churns out winners, and these Stow & Go Sets are fantastic for travel. The mess-free markers mean you don’t have to watch your kid like a hawk, and the small case keeps everything contained. This kit comes with a 30-page drawing pad so your toddler has plenty of room for doodles or tic tac toe.
This egg sorting toy teaches both shapes and colors, helps develop motor skills, and all the pieces close tightly in their case for easy storage. It has over 24,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and it’s one of my personal favorite go-to’s for keeping little ones busy.
Magnets, betch! For free or guided play, this Magnetic Face Puzzle comes with 78 pieces so you could basically make a magnetic portrait of anyone on the plane. It also has a dry erase board and comes with a marker for doodling. It closes up into its own box for easy transporting, too.
For colorful doodling on the go, this 10-inch drawing tablet has a 6-month battery life and eliminates the need for tons of paper and loose crayons. It’s super lightweight and easy to use, and the best part: There’s no cleanup involved.
These silicone pipSquigz can stick to surfaces like your tray table or window and can be thrown in the dishwasher once you reach your destination. They come in a zippered travel bag and are great for teaching hand-eye coordination. Amazon Reviewer Noah Haftel loves them, saying, “These are perfect for my 1-year-old! Even my 7-year-old loves them! Easy to clean! Great for car rides, airplanes, high chairs, bathtubs, and so much more! I will be ordering another pack for my 3-month-old soon!”
Learn colors and numbers with this plush backpack buddy. With 12 colorful buckles and an easy zipper, your toddler can put those busy hands to work and carry some of their own crap for a change.
This set includes over 150 puffy reusable stickers and 3 different “scenes” — safari, farm, and chipmunk — for imaginative play. Little hands love the thick texture of these stickers, which they can place around each background to create art or even a role-play game. When they’re done setting up one scenario, the stickers can be removed and used again!
No, these are not actual toys. But once I drew “owies” on my arm with lipstick and my toddler spent almost 25 minutes patching me up with these. Was it adorable? Yes. Was it sorta wasteful? Also yes, but this is what happens when you’re stuck in the sky and out of ideas. Also, these are just great bandaids to have on hand in case there’s an actual injury.
For even the tiniest travelers under the age of 1, this 6-piece magnetic wooden puzzle is perfect for little hands and developing minds. It can be assembled to make almost 50 different shapes, and the magnetic design means you’re less likely to lose a piece.
Keep those hands busy and mouths quiet with this fruity lacing toy set, which is great if you have multiple tots in tow. The watermelon, apple, and pineapple boards come with little worm lacers to practice fine motor skills. The set fits easily in your carry-on or diaper bag so it won’t take up any precious cargo space.
This sturdy activity book with a spiral binding comes with four rolls of easy-peel tape, and the pages are reusable so your child can play for hours. The tape rolls store in the cover so you won’t be digging around in your carry-on looking for the parts. Amazon Reviewer Jennifer Kessel used it to keep her kids busy on a long flight, saying, “This is the most awesome and fun book ever! My boys (ages 2 and 5) each had their own book while on a cross-country flight from FL to CA. They literally spent one hour working on this book and did not finish it or use up all of the washi tape. It was perfect and they loved it.”
For fashion and function, this Frozen-themed coloring purse comes with four markers and gemstones so your child can unleash their inner designer. It’s a great in-flight activity and they can use it to stash smaller toys, too.
These familiar characters are sure to soothe a fussy toddler. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends set comes with over 40 magnets and 4 scenes so they can create their own stories or retell some familiar favorites. The cute hinged travel tin keeps everything in one place and is smaller than a standard notebook, so it’s easy to stash in your carry-on.
If your toddler is ready for dot-to-dot and maze puzzles, this Wipe Clean Activity Book has over 50 pages of activities that can be wiped clean and done over again. Amazon Reviewer Jackie thinks it’s perfect for beginners, saying, “I got this for my 3-year-old grandson and he loves it. It’s perfect for those just learning how to write. He can erase everything and start all over again and again.”
Have a budding artist on your hands? This Magnetic Drawing Board Set comes with both a large 15-inch board and a smaller 7-inch board in case you’re super tight on space. It also includes 5 magnetic stamps that stick to the board for easy access, 6 stencils, and a bunch of stickers. Bonus: You won’t have to bring a stack of paper and art supplies with you.
This pack of 36 Wikki sticks comes with 26 alphabet cards so your toddler can practice their letters on the go. The Wikki sticks are great for developing motor skills and can also be used for sculpting fun designs if your child doesn’t feel like learning (the goal is to keep them occupied, so who cares?). Plus, they’re super lightweight so you could pack a set for each kid.
These textured nesting balls are tethered together so you won’t lose any pieces while your toddler is trying to nest them. Each ball is sized and textured differently so it’s the perfect amount of trickiness for growing brains. It’s also BPA-free and teaches sensory exploration.
It’s like a portable safari! For the animal-obsessed, this colorful board book has over 50 flaps for your toddler to investigate — they’re organized by animal category to educate new learners. Plus, there are activities on each page for extra engagement.
These water-reveal activity pads have saved my freaking life on planes, car rides, conference calls — you name it. Simply fill the included pen with a bit of water, and as soon as it dampens the pad, color appears! They’re mostly mess-free, super easy for young toddlers, and small enough to throw a few in your carry-on. This set includes 6 different activity pads and chunky water pens for small hands. They’re also reusable – as soon the page dries, it’s ready to go again.
Don’t be a hero. There is no prize for who suffers the most. A screen is the ideal plane toy. You can pre-load their favorite games and shows, hook it up to headphones, and order a coffee or a cocktail. Even if your toddler has a shorter attention span, if this buys you ten minutes of peace every hour of the flight, it’s worth its weight in gold. This tablet has over 125,000 5-star reviews, and my guess is they’re all left by grateful parents who just survived a flight with their kids.