The best travel toys for toddlers in the car

You are getting ready to take a long car ride to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or simply heading out of town for the weekend. You are sort of dreading the ride because you are not sure how to keep your toddler entertained in this extended car trip – I know the feeling.

It’s not easy to keep your toddler entertained in the car. Short trips can sometimes be a handful, so long trips are really scary.

Sure you can turn on the iPad and that will probably work for a while but what if you don’t want that much screentime? What are the best travel toys and activities to keep a toddler entertained in the car for long trips?

Here are some creative ideas on how to keep your toddler entertained with things you already have lying around the house

Pipe cleaners and hand knitting yarn

Do you have some pipe cleaners or hand-knitting yarn lying around? This type of tactile play can keep your toddler entertained for a good while. He can twist, pull, tie… Your will bre surprised how much fun he can have. Wikki Stix also makes a kit that does just this if you still have time before your trip

Teddy bears

For some reason, parents forget that kids love their stuffies. Bring your child’s favorite cuddly toy to help him stay happy in the car. He may even get sleepy with his tootoo if the conditions are right.

Metal and magnets

Do you have a cookie sheet and some magnets? In fact, any metal surface will do but a cookie sheet is perfect because it can lay on his lap like a table top. There are magnets available with ABCs, numbers, shapes, animals, insects, fish, dinosaurs, weather, chores, spinning gears, a nativity scene, and more.


Give him coloring book pages and fat crayons. You can tear them out of coloring books or better yet, find them online and print them out. Put them on a clipboard or he can even draw on that cookie sheet you brought along

A custom care package

Make care packages for your little one. Give him a new bag with fun new things ever so often as needed. Fill it with snacks and dollar toys or toys he hasn’t played with for a while. It’s all about the novelty here. Keep pulling new travel “toys” out and he will stay happy.

If it all fails use your tabblet

You can either let him watch movies and TV shows or download a fun interactive game. I find songs work best at the young toddler stage. For movies, I really suggest getting a tablet holder for the car since your toddler will likely stop the movie or drop the tablet within minutes of you handing it to him.

best travel toys for toddler in the car 1

What Types of Toddler Travel Toys Are Best for Car Trips?

Car trips don’t have to be a nightmare. They can be fun and exciting, but you will want to think and make a plan before buying toys for your trip, or you may wish you had. 

From permanent markings to goo on your seat, any number of things can go wrong if you don’t plan and buy travel toys specifically for a car trip. Here are a few key things to consider:

  • Start with some kind of toy organizer for storing your travel toys.
  • You need travel toys that are not too large or too small, ones that are easy-to-hold.
    • You don’t want them to get lost between the seat cushions.
    • Make sure there are no small pieces that your toddler can choke on.
  • Try to buy mostly toys made of natural materials like wood, metal, and cloth.
    • This way your child begins to interact with nature.
  • You want something that doesn’t spill, write permanently, spray, and ooze goo, so that you can maintain your car’s integrity.
  • You need a puzzle toy. LatchKits Waterfuls is great for a toddler’s puzzle car toy.
  • You will want some building toys. Bristle blocks are a perfect example.
    • Buy plenty of them as many of them will drop plenty.
    • These travel toys will make good use of that organizer.
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How to Engage and Entertain Your Toddler During Long Car Trips

Another thing to consider before that long ride is that toddlers are young and they are going to get restless. They won’t be able to entertain themselves for the entire trip.

Yes, stopping ever so often to walk around and take a break from sitting will help, but they will need more. They will need you to intervene and engage them, keep them company, entertain them.

Here are some ways to keep your toddler entertained in the car

  • Read to him.
    • Pick easy books he will understand so he won’t get bored. Show him the pictures.
  • Give him snacks.
    • You don’t want anything with too many crumbs, and you don’t want goo on your backseat, so plan wisely, but snacks will help.
  • Tell him stories.
    • Tell him stories from when you were a child.
  • Do finger puppet shows.
    • This will be fun for both of you. You can do a show about anything. Just do a funny voice, and he will get tickled.
  • Practice with flashcards.
    • This would be the perfect opportunity to hold up flashcards and go over them with your toddler.
  • Sing some road trip songs.
    • Look up several road trip songs. Teach him to sing with you. 

The Best Toddler Travel Toys for Car Rides

You’ve read everything and you’re still not sure you’ll be able to choose the right travel toys. Well, that’s not a problem because I’ve compiled for you a list of the best toddler travel toys for car rides:

HABA Town Maze Magnetic Game

HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle Game - Learning & Education Toys for Preschoolers

Slide the magnetic wand over the clear, plastic cover to guide the balls along the tracks to find their matching garage. Measures 10″ x 8.75″ and weighs 1.01 lbs.

Why we love it

The maze is a STEM activity that fosters fine motor dexterity and visual-spatial skills. 

Why it’s perfect for the car

The wand is attached, and there’s a storage slot for it on the side of the board. Measures 10″ x 8.75″ and weighs 1.01 lbs.

Quiet Book for Toddlers Busy Book for Toddlers Montessori Toddler Book Airplane Activity for Toddlers Toddler Travel Toy for Car Preschool Travel Activities

Learn about nature, animals, gardening, matching, and much more in this high-quality 10-page book full of learning activities.

Why we love it

The book is a hand-crafted Montessori book made from safe materials. It aids in developing fine motor skills.

Why it’s perfect for the car

There are many separate activities. Measures 10″ x 10″ x 1.8″ and weighs 1.05 lbs.

BrainUp Busy Board 

Busy Board for Toddlers - Sensory Board - Wooden Busy Board for Kids - Activity Board for Toddlers 1-3 - Locks and Latches Activity Board - Baby Activity Board - Toddler Educational Toys

I love busy boards, and so do toddlers! This one has puzzles with pegs, locks, latches, gears, a spinner with beads, an abacus, and more. 

Why we love it

This sensory board is an educational toy. It will encourage kids’ reasoning skills and dexterity.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It’s a fidget board handmade from quality materials. Measures 10″ x 11″ x 3″ and weighs 2.2 lbs.

My First Crayola Touch Lights Musical Doodle Board

My First Crayola Touch Lights, Musical Doodle Board, Toddler Toy, Gift

As far as toddler toys for the car, you can’t beat a doodle board. The Crayola doodle board has a sealed gel screen that your toddler writes on.

Why we love it

It lights up where you write on it and it plays music – a mesmerizing toy.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It’s a mess-free board that will amuse him. Measures 2″ x 13″ x 12″ x 2″ and weighs 1 lb. 

BEST LEARNING Mushroom Garden

BEST LEARNING Mushroom Garden - Interactive Educational Light-Up Toddler Toys for 1 to 3 Years Old Infants & Toddlers - Colors, Numbers, Games & Music for Kids

The Mushroom Garden is a fun and educational toy for toddlers. You see the pattern the colored mushrooms follow, try to remember, and follow it. It teaches colors and numbers along with games and music.

Why we love it 

It works on hand-eye coordination, logical thinking, memory, and dexterity. This toy has won several awards.

Why it’s perfect for the car

This is an exciting challenge for your toddler. It will keep them learning. Measures 7.87″ x 7.87″ x 3.94″ and weighs 11.3 oz.

deMoca Montessori Busy Board

Montessori Busy Board for Toddlers - Wooden Sensory Toys - Toddler Learning Activities for Fine Motor Skills Travel Toy - Educational Toys for 3 Years Old Boys & Girls

This wooden busy board is a great travel toy. It has zippers, snaps, laces, and ties. It encourages dexterity and fine motor skills.

Why we love it

This Montessori sensory board has 10 activities to develop fine motor skills and help learn problem-solving. Also considered a Waldorf toy.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It has several activities of varying difficulty levels. Measures 15.1″ x 11.1″ x 1.5″ and weighs 1.85 lbs.

Esjay Busy Board

Esjay Toddler Busy Board, Sensory Board for Fine Motor Skill, Montessori Toys Toddler Activities for Travel, Car(Grey)

This Esjay board features buckles, laces, zippers, hooks, and more. It teaches the alphabet and numbers. It can keep toddlers busy for a while in a out of the car.

Why we love it

This Montessori toy helps with fine motor skills and cognitive skills.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It’s made of soft fabrics and it’s very lightweight. Measures 11″ x 8.8″ x 1.7″ and weighs 8.8 oz.

Infantino Press & Stay Sensory Blocks

Infantino Press & Stay Sensory Blocks

Among the travel toys for toddlers, this is one of our favorites. These 24 bristle blocks are so fun to put together and to pull apart – even for adults.

Why we love it

They are very bright and colorful. They encourage imagination and dexterity.

Why it’s perfect for the car

These blocks are easy to use so kids don’t get frustrated. Together they measure 10.1″ x 9.9″ x 2.3″ and weighs 1.1 lbs.

KIDZALLIENT Montessori Busy Board

KIDZALLIENT Montessori Toy for Toddlers - Essential and Basic Fine Motor Skills Toys - Double-Sided Learn to Dress Activity Busy Board – Educational Sensory Board for Travelling 2 3 4 5 Year Old

This busy board has a squeaker, some buckles, snaps, laces, and velcro, and that’s just on the first side. The other has a maze and more.

Why we love it 

It helps develop fine motor skills, memory, and cognitive skills.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It has lots to do but not too much, and it comes with a cool travel bag. Measures 15″ x 13.2″ x 1.2″ and weighs 15.2 oz.

KOKODI LCD Writing Tablet

KOKODI LCD Writing Tablet, 10 Inch Colorful Toddler Doodle Board Drawing Tablet, Erasable Reusable Electronic Drawing Pads, Educational and Learning Toy for 3-6 Years Old Boy and Girls (Pink)

The KOKODI tablet makes colorful lines. Depending on how hard you press with the stylus, the lines become different thicknesses. You can write and draw whatever you like and then simply press the erase button.

Why we love it

It uses your child’s imagination and works his fine motor skills. It has no radiation and no glare. Great on long car rides.

Why it’s perfect for the car

It’s small enough for any toddler to hold. Measures 9.8″ x 6.9″ x 0.24″ and weighs 8.8 oz.