First off, I’m not opposed to screen time for toddlers. I’ve always included some screen time on flights to help entertain our toddlers on the airplane. I have found that too much screen time can make my toddlers grouchy and difficult to deal with. So, I always packed a bag of screen free travel toys for toddlers, to also use on the flight and during our time traveling at our destination.
In our airplane activities for babies and toddlers, we explain how a toddler will cycle through all the toddler travel toys you pack in your toddlers backpack for travel.
Our best advice for how to entertain a toddler on a plane is to have a bunch of activities that you can present to your toddler throughout the flight.
In this post, you’ll find only non screen time activities for toddlers on planes and on road trips. We recommend several apps for toddlers in the post mentioned above, plus more ideas in our 1 year old travel toys and 2 year old travel toys lists.
Screen Free Travel Toys for Toddlers – Table of Contents
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22 Best Screen Free Travel Toys for Toddlers
Here are some of our favorite screen free toddler travel toys. We’ve also included some DIY travel toys for variety later in this post.
KeepEmQuiet Travel Pack
While I recommend scrolling through the remaining items in this list, I fully understand that parents are BUSY! That's why I love these travel packs by KeepEmQuiet!
Not just for toddlers, you can specify the age of your child and size of travel pack! Imagine, all your travel entertainment delivered in one package PLUS snacks!
I've had this one on my list for a long time and it's one of the best toddler travel toys! This buckle toy is bound to keep any toddler busy on a flight - at least for a little while!
Toddler just love to play with buckles, which is why this toy is so popular. At least with this toy you might be able to distract your toddler from the car seat and airplane seat buckles!
Buckle Toys Busy Board
With the popularity of the buckle toy, now you can get the buckle toy as a busy board for toddlers. This would be equally as easy to pack and gives some other fun activities for toddlers to try.
I love that it's foam and still has plenty of buckles to master. It also has a zipper, a snap pocket and even laces to try!
Quiet Book for Toddlers
Quiet books are full of excellent ideas to keep toddlers busy on a plane. Usually filled with fun activities and building skills, these quiet books are soft and easy to pack. Here's another option on Amazon, or this one from Melissa & Doug.
Finger Puppet Set
This finger puppet set comes with 14 animals and 6 people. Entertain your toddler on the flight by making up fun stories! These really are some of the best toys for travel with toddlers!
I also love this Moana finger puppet set or this Superhero set from Etsy.
Magnetic Fishing Game
Felt toys are ideal airplane travel toys for toddlers, they are soft, small and easy to pack! Your toddler will love a magnetic fishing game, especially this one that has plenty of fun ocean creatures besides just fish!
Parents will love that this toy is quiet and can easily be played on the airplane tray table!
Felt Memory Game
This fabric memory game is easy to include along with all your travel toys for 3 year olds and 2 year olds! It's just one more activity for toddlers on the airplane that you can easily take out when you need something new!
I especially like that it packs small, so you don't have to worry about overpacking!
Dinosaur Felt Puzzle
One final felt travel toy! Puzzles also make good travel toys for toddlers, but this one has easy to grab pieces and won't take up any space in your toddler's carry-on! It's perfect for little dinosaur lovers.
Wooden Apple Lacing Toy
Whether you are looking for airplane or car travel toys, this threading apple travel toy will keep toddlers busy. I love the simplicity of this toy for toddlers. Not only can parents make up fun stories about the caterpillar but toddlers will love threading it through the apple over and over again!
You could even accompany this toddler toy with the Very Hungry Caterpillar book!
Magnet Building Tiles
If your toddler loves blocks and building as much as mine, then pack magnetic blocks to keep your toddler busy on the airplane! These are also great travel toys for in the hotel room or in your Airbnb apartment. These bright colors will make them harder to lose too!
Window Gel Clings
These always show up on any list of toddler travel toys for airplane. Why? Because toddlers love them! Let them decorate the airplane window with all these cute dogs!
Dogs aren't your toddlers thing? This search on Amazon will give a lot of fun options!
Melissa & Doug Water Wow
These are one of the best travel toys for a 2 year old or a 3 year old. These make such great airplane activities for a 3 year old, because all you need is to fill the pen with water. They can scribble away as the colors come to life on the page.
When you switch to a new activity, you can let them dry so they are ready to color on all over again!
Crayola Color Wonder
Crayola Color Wonder books are great travel toys for toddlers in the car or on a plane. These markers only color on the paper, so they are an easy to way to keep your toddler from making a giant mess! Depending on what your toddler is into, you'll find plenty of fun Crayola Color Wonder options!
If you'd prefer an actual coloring book, get one with big, easy pictures for your toddler to color. And don't forget the crayons that won't roll off the tray! I really like this Big Book of Coloring because it has plenty of different pictures. It's too big to carry around, so I just tear out a few pages for each of our trips!
LCD Writing Tablets
I love the LCD writing tablets our toddlers have. Not only are these great travel toys for toddlers, but they are ideal travel toys for preschoolers and kids too. These are small enough to pack or even leave in the car for road trips. I prefer the ones with a lock button so our toddler doesn't accidentally press the erase button and lose all his drawing while trying to show me!
This bigger magnetic drawing board is one of the best car travel toys for toddlers, rather than for the airplane. It's a bit on the big side and the extra pieces would likely go missing on an airplane.
Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads
While I wouldn't pull these out on an airplane, these reusable sticker books accompanied us on many trips! They are good travel toys for preschoolers and toddlers to play with at the hotel or in an apartment. Plus they are flat, so they pack easily in a suitcase.
Our toddlers love to do imaginative play with their reusable stickers!
Highlights My First Hidden Pictures 2023 Special Edition Activity Books for Kids Ages 3-6, 4-Pack, 96 Pages
We have several Highlights High Five magazines that I always pack. They allow us to read stories to our toddler without having to pack heavy books. One section our toddlers loves is the hidden pictures, which makes hidden pictures sticker books the perfect non screen time activities for toddlers on planes.
54 Piece Mini Animals Toy Set
Be prepared for fun imaginative play with your toddler on the flight with these animal figures! No matter where we go, we always have a few little animals with us.
Construction Vehicles Set
If you have a toddler that loves watching construction trucks, then these mini construction trucks make great travel toys for toddlers. Pack along some pom poms or cheerios and get your little construction worker lifting and moving!
Mini Assorted Construction Vehicles & Race Car Toys
Pull back vehicles are another fun travel toy for toddlers. They would provide plenty of entertainment in hotel rooms or apartments as well. Other options are these matchbox cars or these ones if your toddler is into the Disney movie Cars.
Don't forget the painters tape to create roads and other creative ways to play.
LEGO DUPLO Construction Bulldozer
Though we didn't use duplo on the airplane, these construction duplo sets are a really fun travel toy for 2 year olds (up to and including preschoolers). You could easily pull them out on the airplane, since the larger pieces would be easier to keep track of.
I always tear the sets apart each time we move hotels during a trip. Toddlers can rebuild them each time and play with them the whole time. We typically buy a new LEGO set for each trip for each of our kids and they love them.
Travel Busy Board for Toddlers
While I wouldn't pack a large sensory board for a flight, it certainly would make one of the best car travel toys for toddlers. For something smaller, this fun block sensory travel toy for toddlers has plenty of fun activities for your toddler to explore.
How to Choose the Best Screen Free Toddler Travel Toys?
If you are wracking your brain trying to think of ways to entertain toddlers on a flight or on a road trip, we have plenty of ideas for you.
For airplane travel toys for toddlers, look for toys that are easy to pack and don’t have a lot of small pieces that you will be constantly picking up off the floor.
To help with this problem, we love the Flyaway Designs inflatable toddler airplane bed. It’s the perfect solution for flying with a toddler, giving your toddler a place to play and sleep. And with the design of this airplane bed for toddlers covering the seat and floor space, all your toddlers airplane travel toys won’t end up on the floor.
For car travel toys for toddlers, you can go a little bigger and heavier, since you don’t have to pack them in your carry on. We also like this travel tray to help keep everything together on a road trip with a toddler.
Why isn’t Playdough on the list? I’m not a fan of bringing Playdough as a way to entertain toddlers on airplanes. I’ve seen my floor after taking the Playdough out and I’d hate to do that to an airplane, but that’s just my opinion.
DIY Toddler Travel Toys
If you don’t have time to order new toddler travel toys before your flight or you’d rather not spend extra money on travel toys for a flight, here are some fun DIY Toddler Travel Toys:
Pipe cleaners in a spice jar
This is one of the best toys for travel that you can easily put together yourself! Clean out an empty plastic spice jar and use it with cut pieces of pipe cleaners. Your toddler will have fun trying to fit the pipe cleaners into the jar.
Cheerios strung on a piece of yarn
Another simple but fun toy to include in your DIY travel toys for toddlers is a piece of yarn (or those pipecleaners from above!) that your toddler can string cheerios onto. Our toddler was such a fan of Cheerios that we always had plenty with us anyways! Don’t forget the snack cup so they don’t end up all over the floor.
Use painters tape to make roads for your matchbox cars
Painters tape is the perfect item to pack in your carryon when flying with a toddler. Imagine all the ways to keep toddlers busy on a plane with it! You can use it to make a road across the food tray, use it as stickers, or make a ball out of it…Throw a roll into your toddlers suitcase and you’re sure to make good use out of it!
Craft pom poms for sorting and counting
Our toddler LOVED pom poms! He would carry them around all the time and it became one of my favorite easy airplane activities for our 18 month old! You can sort them into colors, count them or use the construction toys to pick them up! So many uses for them that are all non screen time activities for toddlers on planes!
Small toys from dollar store
If you have the time and energy, run to the dollar store and grab a bunch of small toys that you can wrap individually. These should all be small and easy to pack. You can keep your toddler entertained on the flight as you give new gifts throughout the flight.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.