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Must-Have Travel Toys for Road Trips with Kids

Creative and compact entertainment for stress-free family car adventures

Vicky McDonald

Published on: June 13, 2021

boy smiles in the backseat of a car
Credit: SolStock, iStock 1135085010

Traveling with young kids requires a lot of patience, road trip games, a big bag of snacks and a few creative toys to keep little travelers busy in the backseat. Here are my top picks for clever and compact toys to make family car adventures just a little smoother. 

Wood lacing toy

These adorable wooden lacing toys feature a watermelon, pear, pineapple and apple, each with an adorable caterpillar sewing tool. Designed to be educational and creative, these toys help toddler travelers develop concentration, observation and hands-on skills that will come in handy when it's time to learn how to tie little shoes. Made from durable, high-quality wood with well-attached lacing strings, these fruity learning toys ensure miles of entertainment without sharp edges. 

Credit: Fvcisshhu Store, Amazon

Interactive steering wheel and dashboard

Put your 3 to 7-year-old in the driver's seat with this interactive steering wheel from Melissa & Doug. Mounted on a sturdy dashboard, it features lights, sound effects and moving parts, including a scrolling GPS. Your little driver can explore a key start, gear shift, radio with 4 stations, horn and more, all from the safety of their carseat. This learning toy promotes imaginative play while building hand-eye coordination and teaching cause and effect. 

Credit: Melissa & Doug Store, Amazon

Scavenger hunt card game

This Travel Scavenger Hunt for Kids by University Games keeps kids engaged with the surroundings as they search for items listed on the cards, like a red car, a license plate with the letter "Z," or a stop sign. Perfect for ages 6 and up, it includes 54 scavenger hunt cards, making it ideal for two or more backseat players. 

Credit: Briarpatch Store on Amazon

Magnetic building blocks

Keep your little architect busy with this magnetic construction set from Magformers. This colorful starter set is perfect for creative kids and made from BPA-free plastic. Compatible with all Magformers shapes and accessories, this compact set also includes a step-by-step idea booklet to inspire endless building possibilities.

Credit: Magformers Store, Amazon

Magnetic puzzle book

Perfect for road trips, the Coogam Magnetic Tangram Puzzle Book offers endless entertainment with 360 different patterns and solutions. This compact, portable set measures 6.1"x5.9" and weighs just 7.4oz, making it easy to take anywhere. Its magnetic design minimizes mess, and the seven colorful pieces help kids grasp abstract shapes, solve problems, and learn geometric concepts. Suitable for ages 3 and up, this puzzle enhances patience, observation, and hand-eye coordination, making it a fun and educational choice for travel.

Credit: Coogam Store, Amazon


A quietly engaging book

Engage and educate toddlers with My Quiet Book, featuring eight interactive pages filled with Montessori-inspired activities. From zippers and buttons to matching shapes and telling time, each page offers a unique, screen-free experience that promotes cognitive and motor skills development. Made from soft, durable fabric, this travel-friendly book is ideal for car trips, plane rides, and quiet times at home. 


Reusable coloring kit

Keep toddlers entertained on the go with this portable activity kit, featuring four washable tripod grip crayons, a reusable activity mat, and 10 reusable activity sheets. Simply slide a sheet into the mat and let your child doodle away, then wipe off the colors to create again and again. The triangle crayons are designed to guide little fingers toward a natural grip, enhancing fine motor skills. Safe, non-toxic, and perfect for the backseat, this kit ensures your little one always has something fun and engaging to do. Suitable for ages 24 months and up.

Credit: Crayola Store, Amazon


Mess-free painting kit

Painting in the car? It's possible with this Water WOW kit from Melissa & Doug. Each set includes four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Watch as vibrant colors and details appear with every stroke, then let the pages dry to erase and reuse them again and again. The chunky water pen is easy for little hands to hold and stores neatly in the front cover. With engaging themes like animals, alphabets, and numbers, these Water WOW books are ideal travel activity toys for little artists, ensuring endless entertainment without the mess.

Credit: Melissa & Doug Store, Amazon

Minecraft magnetic logic game

Enjoy miles of brain-stretching entertainment with this Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle, featuring 9 magnetic Minecraft items, an instruction manual, and a challenge booklet with 40 beginner to expert challenges and solutions. This puzzle set is designed to develop critical skills such as logical reasoning and deduction, all while offering clear instructions that make it easy to learn and start playing immediately. With multi-level challenges that increase in difficulty, the Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle is the ideal road trip toy to keep older kids engaged and challenged.

Credit: ThinkFun Store, Amazon

Paint by sticker

Zoo animal paintings come alive with no paint to spill! This kit includes everything your little Rothko needs to create ten vibrant sticker paintings on sturdy card stock. Each page is perforated for easy tear-out, so kids can frame and share their masterpieces or remove all the pages to create a giant collage for their bedroom.

Credit: Workman Publishing, Amazon

Montessori-inspired sensory plushie

This adorable Sensory Stuffed Crab is a must-have for road trips and beyond. This engaging toy is designed to aid in early learning about colors and counting through its decorated numbers and shapes. Featuring 6 easy buckles, it encourages fine motor skills, cognitive development, hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities. Its compact design and easy-glide zipper pocket make it perfect for small hands and convenient to clip onto carseat. 

Credit Buckle Toys Store, Amazon

Reusable stickers

This cute reusable sticker pad features 5 scenes and over 150 reusable stickers. Each scene measures 14" x 11", providing ample space for creative adventures that can be rearranged and enjoyed again and again. Great for screen-free backseat play, this pad is perfect for travelers ages 3 to 8. 

Credit: Melissa & Doug Store, Amazon

Editor's note: This article was first published in 2019 and was updated in May 2024. Updates included additional items, new photography and item descriptions, and a new headline.

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