When it comes to birthdays and holidays, we try to limit the amount of stuff we buy and instead go on a family trip. That said, we have a 6 year old who loves receiving gifts as most kids do. So we try to combine the two by buying her travel appropriate toys and things she can use on the plane/for traveling. Here are some of our favorites!
These items are small and would make great stocking stuffers. They are also excellent entertainment for the plane or hotel room!
- I recently discovered this awesome, tiny little cheese cube lacing puzzle that kept Milana entertained for quite some time! Even though it’s advertised for younger kids, my 5 year old loves this. It’s super tiny too and perfect for travel.
- This buckle toy will keep even the smallest travelers entertained!
3. Melissa and Doug makes some of our favorite travel items. This tape activity book is the perfect size for travel. The scissors skill pad is a huge hit with Milana as well. And the new chalk activity book has been a hit as well!
4. Some other favorites by Melissa and Doug (and suitable for even the youngest toddlers) are their Water Wow books. There are so many themes to choose from, you are bound to find one your child will love.
5. Another huge hit with Milana are the puffy sticker activity books. Just like the Water Wow books, there are many different themes to choose from. Puffy stickers are great for tiny hands because they are so much easier to peel than traditional stickers.
6. This Peaceable Kingdom airport sticker tote is the perfect little play set for little travelers.
7. Quite possibly our favorite travel toy are Wikki Stix. These are amazing! You can make pretty much anything you can imagine. They are small and compact, so they won’t take up much space in your bag. If you haven’t tried them, get some today!
8. Being a frequent flyer, Milana loves collecting all the different die cast version of airplanes we’ve been on. The options are endless and the way they are played with is totally up to the child’s imagination.
9. This magnetic cars, planes and trains tin is small and compact and perfect to bring on the plane.
10. For the tiniest travelers, these links are the best thing ever! They may even entertain older kiddos!
11. We all know what happens to crayons when your child drops one on the plane-they roll away and are never seen again! This is why we travel with triangular crayons. They won’t roll off the table and you won’t be on your hands and knees trying to find that red crayon that your child just has to have!
12. Crayola Color Wonder makes all sorts of mess-free travel kits. From markers that only work on their paper to mess free paint, these are really great for travel.
13. Create A Scene Magnetic Playsets come in many themes and are compact, making them perfect for travel.
14. Magnetic games Perfect for the plane! Lots of options in this pack guaranteed to keep your kids busy.
- We got Milana an Osprey Jet 12 backpack when she was around 4. It fits little bodies perfectly and being an Osprey bag, the quality is great. On the upside, she knows that she will have to carry whatever she packs so she has been more mindful and no longer overpacks!
2. One of the best and most used travel items we have discovered this year is the Trayblecloth. It slips over the airplane tray and has pockets to store crayons/snacks/etc. so they don’t get lost during the flight. You’re able to close the tray easily with the cover on and the upside is your child can eat a snack without touching the dirty plane trays that rarely get cleaned. If I had to suggest one must have for traveling parents, it would be this!
4. You can never go wrong with travel themed books! I created a separate post listing books by region which you can visit by clicking on the link.
5. Little Passports subscription box This is a gift that keeps on giving! It arrives monthly, with facts about a different country or state. Your child can learn so much about the world from this subscription and it comes in a cute little suitcase, perfect for keepsakes.
6. If your child is too young for a backpack or prefers rolling luggage, there are many options for them! Heys makes some great quality luggage for even the littlest travelers, with many colors and characters to choose from. Another fun one for kids is the Zinc Flyte Luggage Scooter. Another popular one for kids is the Trunki ride on suitcase.
7. A must have, especially on long flights, is a leg rest pillow. Our preferred one is the 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow but there are many other brands. This has allowed Milana to sleep for 8+ hours on long haul flights, completely stretched out! It folds up super small when not in use and doesn’t require a pump (just more to carry) to inflate it.
8. Kids need neck pillows too but finding one that works for little ones is not easy. Our favorite for the youngest travelers is the Trunki brand one that comes with a magnetic closure. It fits little necks perfectly! For the older kids (4 and up), our favorite adult pillow now comes in kid size! This is the best pillow ever, we highly recommend it.
9. For little builders, this Zoob BuilderZ travel set is great entertainment either on the plane or hotel room! This is one of our favorite, open-ended toys.
10. Though most kids won’t get excited when they receive a car seat or stroller as a gift, it’s a must for travel! The Joovy Groove Ultralight makes the perfect travel stroller. It’s super lightweight, has a kickstand so it stands upright on its own and has a high weight limit of 55 lbs (most strollers only go up to 44 or less).
Having a separate car seat for travel is a good idea too. At home, we have a very heavy Radian and Britax Frontier so for travel, we got the Safety 1st Guide 65 seat. It’s light and has a 40 lb. rear facing limit and 65 forward facing. Keep this in mind when looking for a travel seat. Many of the ones recommended only forward face up to 40 lbs. so you won’t get much use out of them at all. At nearly 6, Milana still uses this seat.
And if you have older kids (at least 4 and 40 lbs) and won’t be using the car much except for taxis or Uber, I highly recommend the mifold seat. I can’t tell you how much use we have gotten out of it this year in so many different countries! It folds up super small, so you can easily stick it into your backpack.
11. Traveling with straw cups is not recommended, as they will leak and cause a huge water explosion when the plane is in the air due to the pressure. We love Rehydrate Pro bottles because they are leak proof, made out of stainless steel and keep your water cold for hours! Another favorite in this house is the PlanetBox Bottle Rocket. We have a few of these and they are great for air travel.
12. Scratch off maps are a great way to teach kids about the world and to show them where their next destination will be. This world map is our favorite and we also have one for the United States as well.
13. Another fun, educational toy is this interactive globe.
14. Kid size headphones are a must for tiny travelers and our favorite are the Kidz Gear ones. Unlike most kid headphones, these have an optional volume control cable so you can remove it and use it at regular volume. This is important to note because volume control headphones will be impossible to hear over the loud cabin noise inside the plane! We have been using these since Milana was around 18 months old and at nearly 7, they are as good as new. They are pretty indestructible, toss them into their backpack and you are good to go! I prefer these to the bluetooth ones because let’s face it, you don’t need yet another device to charge!
15. If you’ve never tried playfoam you are missing out! I highly recommend buying this party pack. Each one comes individually wrapped in a small container. This is the perfect toy for the plane! Leaves no mess behind and kids can create so many different things. The new Playfoam Pals are super cute and perfect for planes!
Small packs of Play Doh with a few small tools are great too! And when you use it with the Trayblecloth mentioned above, it’s perfect since the cover has a plastic covering on top of it.
16. For kids who are preschool aged and older, Peaceable Kingdom Games to Go are super fun!
17. Aqua Doodle makes a travel version of their awesome mat which is really fun for even the youngest kids.
18. Map puzzles are some of Milana’s favorites! We have quite a few in our house but our favorites are Melissa and Doug ones. Janod makes a great world map puzzle as well, though it is best for older kids since it has over 200 pieces.
21. If your child has one of the popular American Girl dolls (or another 18 inch doll), this doll travel set is a perfect gift! It comes with a cute little suitcase, complete with all kinds of travel accessories including a passport.
23. For younger ones, this interactive globe puzzle is perfect!
24. This geography bingo game is fun for the whole family. Kids as young as 4 can play!
25. Flags of the world is another fun game. While it’s intended for kids ages 8 and up, Milana loves this at 5. She’s obsessed with flags and if your child is too, this is perfect!
26. Lego makes this super cute tiny suitcase. Perfect for those Lego loving kiddos!
27. Travel Journals are great for older kids to keep track of all their travel memories.
28. If your child travels with an iPad, I highly recommend this case. It’s durable and has lasted us a few years now! Many drops later, the iPad is as good as new.
29. If you’re feeling extra generous, a tablet makes the perfect gift. There are several options to choose from, the cheapest being the Amazon Kids Fire Tablet. We personally prefer Apple products and Milana has an iPad Pro though a lower model will work for kids as well. I find iPads much more intuitive and user friendly than the Fire, just ask anyone who cursed their way through setup! Another popular one is the Samsung Galaxy Tablet which is much cheaper than the iPad and a little more than the fire.
30. As a photographer who constantly takes travel photos, I now have a child who is obsessed with photography. I am not about to hand her my camera which is worth several thousand dollars, so she has her own. There are a few options for kid cameras. Some are marketed for kids and virtually indestructible, like the Vtech Kidizoom and the Discovery Kids camera. Milana recently got this waterproof kid camera and used it in Australia, it’s cheap and awesome for the under 10 crowd!
31. If your child is anything like mine, they love to snack especially on the plane! We love Lunch Bots Bento Boxes. It’s the perfect size for travels, with different compartments so you can fill it with all kinds of things. They aren’t leakproof though, so if you’re putting in fresh fruit or anything that may leak, they aren’t the best option for that. YumBox makes great food containers too and they are leak proof. I’ve seen people buy tackle boxes at Walmart with the separate compartments and I cringe every time I see a child eating out of that. Those say right on the label that they are not intended for food and contain BPA and other chemicals. Lunch Bots is stainless steel and phthalate free, making it a safe option for food products. If you need snack ideas, see my what to pack for the plane post and scroll down to the snack section.
32. Gamewright Games These are some of our favorite games! Milana loves all of their card games and we have quite the collection. The plus is that they are easy to pack and you can bring with you on trips to play in the hotel room/airport during long layovers.
33. Travel Themed Games: Our family loves board games, they are a great way to teach your kids about the world in a fun way. Our two current favorites are the Game of the States, which teaches kids about the US States in a fun way and Explore the World, where your child will learn about facts from many different countries.
As you can see, there are lots of gift options for little travelers! Many of these will work as in-flight entertainment too. But the best gift you can give is the gift of experience. Book a trip, go to your local zoo or even just the playground. Making memories is something your kids will cherish for years to come!