We recently took a vacation with our toddler and flew roundtrip from Albuquerque to Seattle. Each leg of the flight was approximately 2 hours long, which is definitely doable with a 2-year-old. This article is my take on the best toddler toys for airplane travel.
When you’re packing toddler toys for airplane travel, think small and compact. With all the other stuff that you’ll be lugging around, like a stroller and car seat, you definitely want the toys to be on the smaller side.
On this last trip, we were able to fit all of my daughter’s toys, pillow, blanket, sippy cup, and snacks in one adult-sized backpack. It was pretty easy to stuff it under the seat and pull it out as we needed it.
We packed a variety of toys on this trip, which entertained our daughter throughout our flights. These are the best toddler toys for airplane travel.
- Additional reading: Great toddler activities in Seattle for a weekend
Magna-Tiles and Magna-Qubix are magnetic building blocks that encourage creative thinking and open-ended play for all ages. When my daughter was first introduced to Magna-Qubix, she spent hours building and playing with the blocks.
These magnetic building blocks are perfect for airplane travel with toddlers. My toddler spent a good chunk of time playing with this toy alone.
I didn’t pack the entire Magna-Qubix set for the airplane ride. I fit as many blocks as I could in a sandwich bag and called it good.
2. Toddler busy pillow
Sensory pillows and busy boards are perfect for airplane travel. They are compact, all-in-one toys that promote hands-on learning, stimulation, and play. This toy is one of our best toddlers toys for airplane travel.
My toddler spends a lot of time trying to master the various features on her busy pillow, including unzipping a zipper, threading a shoelace, and buckling and unbuckling hooks.
You can never go wrong with books. We usually pack three or four books for airplane travel. They actually don’t take up too much space and aren’t very heavy.
My toddler loves lift-the-flap books, which are very interactive and fun for her. She enjoys going through every page and lifting up every flap to see what’s underneath.
4. Plush doll
Plush dolls serve multiple purposes. If your toddler has a favorite plush toy, it can serve as comfort and security during travel.
More recently, I’ve noticed that my toddler uses her Elmo doll in imaginative play. When we were flying, she would help Elmo to look out the window to see the sky and the clouds. She would make sure that Elmo got a snack and something to drink. He’s her little buddy.
5. Figurine set
Small figurine sets are perfect toddler toys for airplane travel. They are lightweight, compact, and offer endless opportunities for imaginative play on the airplane.
My daughter’s Sesame Street figurine set is perfect for travel. The small figures are hard, lightweight plastic, and easy to wash. Each figurine is a couple of inches tall, which is perfect for toddler hands.
- Additional reading: Best Sesame Street toys for toddlers under two
6. Doctor playset
This play doctor kit contains less than 10 pieces and is perfect for young toddlers. The best part is that it comes with a little doctor bag to store everything in.
Be prepared to be your toddler’s patient on the flight, as they will want to check your heart rate, give you shots, and inspect your ears.
7. Coloring book & crayons
We pack an old-fashioned paper coloring book and a pack of crayons on every trip. It doesn’t take up too much space and it definitely keeps my daughter entertained for good chunks of time.
If you don’t want to keep track of all the crayons and your toddler potentially coloring on the seats or the walls, there are many mess-free coloring options on the market today. There are light boards, toddler doodle boards, water coloring, and magnetic drawing boards.
8. Window clings
I actually got this tip from another blogger. In my opinion, it’s quite genius. Window gel clings are perfect toddler toys for airplane travel. Your toddler will enjoy sticking them on the airplane window, the walls, and the tray table.
When I think of window clings, I think of the seasonal packages from the Dollar Tree to decorate your office. I was pretty surprised to find that Amazon has toddler gel clings in farm animal shapes, whaaaat!
I think every toddler loves cars, especially the nifty pull-back cars. The great thing about taking small cars on a trip is that you only have to pack two or three. My toddler is happy if she can have one in each hand.
Although you might not be able to use the car’s pull-back feature on the flight, your toddler can definitely use it on layovers.
10. Toddler tablet
Screen time is usually my last line of defense when we travel, but it is so helpful. There will be times when you offer every single toy in your arsenal and your toddler will not be interested in any of them. This is where screen time comes in.
Unless you want to purchase Wifi on the plane, pre-download a few episodes of your toddler’s favorite shows or movies prior to the trip.
Final tips on toddler toys for airplane travel
When packing toddler toys for airplane travel, keep them small and compact. My other rule of thumb is no toys with a lot of pieces. Please don’t pack a 100-piece activity set for an airplane! You will be on the floor searching for toys the entire flight.
Also, it’s not necessary to pack tons of toys, but pack enough so that you can rotate them during your flight.
Toy rotation is amazing and it worked like a charm with my toddler. She gets to play with one toy at a time. When I sense that she is getting bored or tired of a particular toy, I bring out a different toy for her to play with. Just keep rotating and let the time fly.
If you’re interested, this article from Fatherly.com provides additional tips for flying with a toddler and how to make it ‘less hellish.’ Safe and fun travel to you all!