To entertain toddlers on a plane, don’t just rely on a tablet or your phone. Allow for plenty of screen-free time by bringing with you some of our suggested travel toys for toddlers on airplanes that we’ve tried and tested over the years.
When packing airplane toys for toddlers, make are they are lightweight, small, and the kids have never seen or played with them before.
On one of our many long international flights (17 hours), I flew with the 2 girls by myself and made them each carry their own backpack filled with snacks, a small book, and toys while I also have a backpack of my own – filled with travel toys they are unaware of.
Check out our list of great travel toys for toddlers and also read up on my 10 Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddlers to help you on your flight.
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Best Travel Toys for Toddlers on Airplanes:
1. Play-Doh Set – Play-Doh is a great toy for toddlers. It helps toddlers be imaginative and it strengthens their fine motor skills. For our toddler, she enjoyed just holding on to the Play-doh tub like a safety blanket for a long time before even playing with it. I’ll take anything that can calm her during a flight! Haha.
2. Multi-Pack of Play-Doh – If you have accessories like molds and cutters at home but all your Play-Doh has hardened because the kids left it to air out (again), then get the 15 pack mini Play-Doh tubs. The set enables you to bring more colors as they are smaller. You can pack 3 colors for your flight and save the rest for later. This is a great travel toy because it is really small and lightweight yet kids would play with it for a long time.
3. Sort the Alphabet in a Suitcase – I love travel toys that has a case with them like this Elmo sort the alphabet toy. Snap each letter into place, or mix them up to spell out simple words in the bottom window. Underneath each letter is an image of a word that starts with that letter. When play is done, fold up the Elmo carrying case, and take the alphabet on the go! I do wish it is magnetic though. Don’t worry about your toddler making a noise on the plane as this doesn’t have a sound.
4. Magnetic Drawing Board – Toddlers love to doodle, then let them doodle (without ink). Kids will use the attached stylus to draw, slide the slot to delete, and they can also use the stamp to draw a variety of designs. We pack this travel toy for kids not only on flights but also on road trips.
5. Sticker & Activity Set – Stickers!!! Toddlers love stickers! Bring a sticker and activity set of their favorite cartoon character on your flight.
6. Rainbow Scratch Notepad – Like magic! If I’m a toddler, this would be my favorite activity to pack for the plane ride. If you’ve never seen it before, though I doubt it, a black pad turns into a rainbow when you scratch an outline into it.
7. Magic Ink Book Set – If you’re packing activities and toys for a plane ride with toddlers, make sure it is mess free especially when it comes to markers. Pack the Imagine Ink mess-free markers for your trip where kids can reveal hidden games and pictures by using a magic invisible ink pen.
8. Mess Free Coloring Sheet and Color Wonder Markers – Similar to the Magic Ink where coloring is mess free, Crayola Color Wonder Set comes with 5 markers and 18 coloring pages of your toddlers’ favorite character – Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princess, etc.
9. Mini Monster Trucks – When buying travel toys for boys, make sure they are not the pull back type of cars that would zoom out when the kids let go of it or you’ll find yourself crawling to find them. I like this mini monster trucks as they have a textured wheel making it not as slippery when the toddlers play with them on the airplane tray. They are also inexpensive for a pack of 6. I would suggest just bringing 1-2 to the add to the other toys you’re packing for the trip.
10. Dinosaur Figures – Most toddler boys I know really love dinosaurs so I would suggest getting this 13 pc. dinosaur set with its own backpack that your toddler can easily carry to the plane.
11. Disney Princess Wheelies – Instead of the usual Disney Princess figure, bring this Princess Wheelies toy for your toddler for her 1st plane ride. It’s unique and small to add to the travel backpack of tricks.
12. Hairdorables Surprise Toy – Hairdorables just recently came out and it is a lot of fun. It’s perfect for toddlers who love opening surprise toys (thanks to Youtube and Kinder eggs). There are 36 dolls and when you buy one you don’t know which one you’ll end up with until you open it. It also comes with 11 surprise accessories and stickers. It would surely keep your toddler entertained on the plane.
13. Polly Pocket Toys – If your toddler loves playing with her doll and dollhouse yet you can’t pack that huge Barbie dollhouse to the plane, then the compact travel toy Polly Pocket might just do the trick. They are various designs and set but the one pictured below is the Pocket World Donut Pajama Party. It opens to a living room complete with micro Polly and Shani dolls and a scooter. Button on the TV changes the channel; front door opens; couch flips open to reveal bunk beds; refrigerator opens; and the spinner on the game moves.
14. Shopkins Mini Playset – Another compact travel toy to entertain your toddler on the plane is this mini playset from Shopkins. There are various sets available and each comes with a Teeny Shoppie and 1 tiny Shopkin inside! If your toddler loves putting things in her mouth though, I wouldn’t suggest this toy as she might put the tiny Shopkin in her mouth.
15. Ryan’s Toy Review Toy Surprise Set – Ryan! Ryan! Ryan! If your toddler watches Youtube, you already know Ryan’s Toy Review. He has a toy line now so if you want your toddler to get all excited on the plane, surprise him/her with a Ryan’s Surprise toy.
16. Stuffed Toy Backpack – If you are looking for a backpack for your kid to take to the plane, this backpack can serve as both a backpack and a stuffed animal. There are 13 designs to choose from – shark, unicorn, butterfly, dinosaur, etc.
17. LEGO Duplo Set – LEGOs are great travel toys for kids since they can be as small as you want them to be. For toddlers, get the LEGO Duplo which are perfect for toddlers. Find a set of their favorite character and it can serve as a toy to build on the plane and for pretend play as well. Other designs include Toy Store Train Set, Minnie Mouse car set, Lightning McQueen set, and plenty more.
18. Magnetic Tiles – If your toddler is interested in building toys, pack some magnetic tiles to entertain them on the plane.
19. Disney Mini Doll Playset – One of our kids’ favorite travel toy to this day are these mini doll playset from Disney. We have 2 sets right now and though it’s on the pricier side, your toddler will really love this even after the flight. You can keep the Disney Princess and its accessories in the mini case it came with.
20. Backpack Picnic Set – Another great travel toy for girls is this Minnie Mouse Picnic set. The cute backpack is a nice bonus to bring to the plane.
21. Fishing Set – If you want a magnetic travel toy, this fishing set is a lot of fun and can be played by 4 players. Just supervise the kids as this comes with tiny magnetic fish. Luckily, our kids never put toys on their mouth growing up so I didn’t really have a problem with small toys even when they were babies.
22. Travel Activity Set – If you don’t have time to pick from our list of travel toys for toddlers, just surprise both your toddler and yourself on what activities you can do on the plane with this travel activity set. Good Luck! Hehe!
23. Flap Books for Toddlers – For toddlers book to take to the plane, I highly suggest buying flap books as they are not only fun to read, toddlers enjoy opening the flaps as well so it serves 2 purposes. Your toddler will want to keep reading it. Our favorite – Dear Zoo and Where is Baby’s Belly Button.
24. Bristle Building Blocks – Similar to LEGOs but easier for toddlers to manipulate are Bristle Blocks. If the case is too bulky for the plane ride, I would suggest packing some of the key pieces for your toddler to enjoy building on the plane.
Plane Accessories for Toddlers to enjoy their toys:
- Travel Tray with Tablet Holder – Travel trays are great to take to the plane so toddlers can play whenever they want to as certain times during the flight, the plane tray has to be stowed away. This can be attached to a car seat as well so it’s a great travel accessory when you have kids. It’s also foldable, the base and the wall can be detached so you pack it in your bag before the flight.
- Inflatable Footrest/Plane Bed – Fill the gap between two seats with this travel pillow to extend the seat length. The extra surface can allow toddlers to lay down flat, play with their toys or lift their leg up for better sleep on the plane. Note that Emirates, Korean Airways, Egypt Air and Qantas don’t allow this product on their flight. Other airlines, please check with the staff. No risk purchase though as the company promises to refund for this product if your airline doesn’t allow it.
10 Tips for choosing Airplane Toys for your Toddlers:
1. Bring your toddlers’ favorite toy to the plane
Bringing the familiar toy to an unfamiliar place will help keep them calm especially if it’s their first time riding a plane. You don’t want to pack all of your toddler’s favorite toy though so you can pack new ones so they can really be entertained on the plane longer.
2. Bring some NEW toddler toys geared towards their interest
The toddler will get bored playing with their favorite toy at some point during the flight. They’ve been sitting on the same seat for so long – time to take out a new toy to surprise them.
As the parent of your child, you know what their interests are. So, when buying travel toys for kids, try to match it with what they are interested in versus just getting toys that say’ travel toys.
As an example, our eldest is more into like LEGO, building-type of toys, so that’s what we bought when we first flew with her. Our second one is more into dolls, cute stuff and she is not into building type of toys at all, so it’s more of Shopkins, little dolls, etc.
Make sure not to let them know you bought and pack new toys for the plane ride through until it’s really time to bring it out.
3. Bring a toy that is not geared toward their “known” interest
We, as parents, know what our toddlers are into and what they are not into. But there are toys we’ve never encountered that we’ve never tested on them. Pack one of those.
When I flew with our eldest, she wasn’t even 1 yr old then, I bought a travel-size Blokus, unsure if she will play with it. That was the winner airplane toy during that very flight – she played with it the longest. We don’t know how to play with it as how one would, she just moved the Blokus pieces and re-arrange them over and over again. Winner!
4. A few little things versus 1 big toy
Instead of one big toy, pack a few small ones so you can fit more into your hand-carry because toddlers will get bored easily. If I buy a toy with many pieces, I would bring a few pieces instead of the whole thing so I can bring a variety of toys to the plane.
5. Make sure it’s a safe toy
Make sure the toy you’re bringing to the plane is not a choking hazard toy, that they are not marbles that are going to roll down to the last aisle, and if your toddler likes to throw stuff when they get cranky, it’s not something that will hurt other passengers on the plane.
6. Make sure it won’t disturb other people on the plane
Besides making sure the travel toys you’re packing are safe for your own child, make sure it’s also not going to disturb other plane passengers.
Make sure it is not a loud toy like a mic and that it doesn’t have a scent like those Build-A-Beard stuffed animals with scent on them so in case you have a seatmate in the plane, they won’t get dizzy if their nose buds are pretty sensitive.
7. Don’t bring it all out at once & bring a bag with multiple compartments
I bought a laptop backpack with many compartments for our flight to pack both my laptop and to hide as many small travel toys as I possibly can. I also made the kids each bring their own backpack with some surprises in it as well. But mine has most of the NEW toys to prepare myself for – “I’m bored” and all the whining and crying on the plane.
I pack the toys well so the toddler won’t suspect there are more toys, each compartment of my backpack actually has a lock so the kids can’t open it.
Also, try to space it out versus bringing all the toys all at once.
Before leaving the house, try to see if you can already take it out of the package so packing won’t be as bulky unless it’s one of those “surprise toys”. Some toy packaging requires scissors to open, so it’s better to do it at home before the flight.
8. Alternate toys, snack, drinks, books, etc.
Toddlers are very smart. You need to outsmart them by not bringing one toy after another. Try to alternate it with a new snack coz’ you’re supposed to be out of toys right? Then when they are bored again, a book, followed by a drink, then walk around the plane if you can, then back to the seat with storytelling, nap time or showing them what the seat buttons are for.
Try to lengthen the time you bring out another toy depending on how long your flight is so you can actually make it to your destination – safe and sound.
9. Don’t bring out the toys at the boarding area
Keep your toddler busy at the boarding area by walking around. The gift shops will keep them entertained so you can keep the toys to entertain them for the actual plane ride.
10. Also, pack a tablet and toddler size headphones for safe measures
Well, it’s really a long flight, you need a tablet at some point. Pack one filled with movies and apps. Sometimes, in-flight entertainment is not available or there are no shows geared for toddlers. We like our Ipad versus other tablets and do pack a headphone so it’s not disturbing other passengers when they are watching a show.