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Travel Toys Buying Guide

Pack up your bags, you're going on vacation! While kids may not be too excited about the journey, appropriate playthings can make this aspect of the trip fun for them as well.

Featuring smaller versions of other toys, a minimum number of pieces, or helpful components like magnetic pieces or handy cases, travel toys are designed to be brought along on trips and enjoyed when on the go.

Features to Consider

The biggest expectation of a proper travel toy? Portability, of course! Your child cannot exactly put together a floor puzzle or play with dolls in their dollhouse while on the go.

Like a puzzle or a game - especially since travel toys are often miniaturized versions of these toys - you should consider how many pieces or parts the toy has because travel is not friendly to items with too many pieces. And, many toys just are not the same if pieces are misplaced or lost. While pieces may be able to be recovered with car travel, traveling by other methods likely means that missing pieces will be missing forever - a concept that may upset children!

A very reasonable solution to keep track of all the pieces - get travel toys that are magnetic! All pieces stay in place, during play and while being stored.

Also consider how much noise a toy makes, and whether this will be a distraction for the driver or fellow travelers. A number of baby and toddler toys make noise to keep them entertained but may not be truly travel-friendly.

When traveling by air, rail, or other means, be sure the toys meet carry-on regulations. It may be best to leave certain travel toys in checked luggage to enjoy at the destination - inevitably, your child will have time to play in the hotel room or other location!

Some Age Group Suggestions

Birth to 2 years
Many of our baby toys are already set for travel as well; all-inclusive with no extra pieces, and some feature "clips" to attach the toys to something else. Some great examples are:
  • Stuffed Toys
  • Soft Books
  • Toys that rattle and/or make noise
Travel Toys for Kids 12 months to 2 years
  • Board books
  • Simple Puzzles
  • Erasable "writing" toys
3 to 4 years
  • Coloring Books
  • Card Games
  • Alphabet and other Learning Toys
  • Magnetic block toys/tangram puzzles
5 to 6 years
  • Travel-related games, i.e. License Plate Games
  • Magnetic play sets or scenes
  • Travel totes or lunch boxes
7 years and up
  • Brain Teasers & Puzzles
  • Lap Desks
  • More advanced games, such as trivia

Where Will They Use It? (Play Environment)

While any toy deemed a “Travel Toy” can be appreciated anywhere and anytime, it will likely be enjoyed either en route to or at a travel destination.

No need for the toys bought for the journey to be packed away once you arrive. Given the fact that traveling with a lot of toys is not easy, the smaller, all-inclusive toys can also be a perfect option for keeping a fussy or bored child busy.

Ways for Adults to Play/Adult Involvement

Vacation: there is no computer (hopefully!), a stark change in scenery, and a diversion from everyday life. What better time could there be to stop, relax, and play?

Many travel toys are inherently “two-player” or more, providing all who want a spot to play. Trivia games, other turn-based games that can be passed back and forth, and even sketchbooks can be appreciated in tandem. And hey, if you are a little apprehensive about traveling yourself, play is a great way to pass the time!

Especially with younger children, remember to “cycle” through these little toys, rather than playing with a single toy until the child tires of it. This way, you may be able to go back to a recently played with toy later for another round of play.

Developmental Benefits

Spatial Benefits
The sheer activity of travel is quite a “sight” to see in itself. Several travel toys use this to their advantage, whether it is a scavenger hunt-style game or a sketchbook, where a child can recreate the ever-changing environment they see through the window.

Verbal Benefits
Given the mode of travel, voice may be used in different ways. A quiet, reserved voice would be preferred for travel in public, while everyone can speak up a bit more in the car, as long as the driver doesn't mind, of course! The relatively unique environment of being harnessed with a seat belt or strapped into a seat may promote more verbal communication with play.

Travel Toys for ToddlersIntrapersonal Benefits
When traveling with others - whether in the car or through some type of public transportation - kids have to learn to be somewhat self sufficient, which may mean playing by themselves. Travel toys should be all-inclusive toys that children can enjoy when they are solo, as others on the trip may not be able to interact all the time.

Types of Play

Cooperative Play Working together in all aspects is key while traveling; frankly, you're likely going to be spending a lot of time together! Many travel toys are perfect for a duo of children, usually simple 2-player games that help pass the time.

Quiet Play
Even the most boisterous of children will probably appreciate some quiet time either to or from a travel destination. Or, in the case of public transport, it's necessary! A child can learn a lot by remaining quiet and respectful of other travelers in such a situation.

Creative Play
Especially in a confined environment or with limited supplies, the creative spirit will be in full force. Toys and any items along for the trip may find new uses, or unusual pairings may arise. It's such a good opportunity to have a little fun with toys that are not typically used everyday!

Manipulative Play
Play by means of hand-eye coordination is essential with any travel toy. Being restrained in a seat, those hands and arms will likely be busy, whether a child is drawing, pretending, or playing a game.

Dramatic Play
The opportunity to role play or simply act out of the ordinary is easy, and kids can you portable play sets to broaden their horizons and take part in pretend play.

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