Packing for trips is one thing; Holiday shopping for kids is another. When you combine the two together (travel and toys for kids) you’re entering a whole new world of dilemma, stress and confusion — until now!
We’ve tracked down some great gifts for kids (for the holiday or any special occasion) that are easy to travel with and keep young minds entertained.
(1) Mega Bloks Play n Go Table
The Play n Go Table is an excellent, compact gift (easy to wrap and take with you even) for kids aged 1.5 – 5 years of age. All bricks are stored inside the table and can even remain there when it’s set up. You simply turn a little dial, pop off the four coloured squares and all of the mega bloks are stored within in.
Kids can play alone or with others, making towers, towns and more. The set comes with a car and a driver and stickers to help develop counting and alphabet skills. Because of it’s simplicity and size, it’s also excellent for home use because you can tidy up and store it away if needed. Our sons (aged 1.5 and 11 years both get a lot of play out of it.
(2) Playmobil Take Along zoo & Aquarium
Playmobil is known for their iconic figures and toys and all of these parts are totally safe for a toddler (people have asked me about removable hair etc) but none of these little people do that. Our son is totally into water toys right now so this is right up his alley. It’s another great item to wrap and take with you (it’s small but opens up into so much more) for holiday travel and gift-giving.
(3) A Tape Measure.
It seems odd to list a tape measure as a great travel toy, but many parents have told me how they’ve passed the time giving their children everyday items. I find a standard household tape measure to be a bit too sharp along the edges for my liking. But I managed to track down the kiddie version (below). You’d be surprised at how something as simple as this can occupy your children on flights or during road trips. It’s also a great travel stocking stuffer for them to open up on holiday vacation.
(4) Nintendo 3DS
Portable Nintendo devices have been around for decades (I was obsessed with mine as pre-teen and teen – I was hooked on Tetris and Mario Brothers). Over the years, I’ve watched them transform from the older, vertical grey version (with the sepia screen) to a fabulous, slick, handheld device. Noah’s played with the standard DS for years but this year, all of the hype is around the Nintendo 3DS. The screen is actually in 3D (without the need of glasses) and the games are getting more and more impressive. This is an EXCELLENT travel toy and passes hours on planes, trains and in automobiles. Games are so compact that it’s easy for kids to take a few with them on vacation. And, again, it’s such a small package that it’s easy to wrap if you’re heading off on a holiday vacation and plan to open gifts while travelling.
There are so many different accessories as well so your children can continue to amplify their gaming experience throughout the year.
This is the hottest toy we’ve tracked down this season with nearly every kid putting this on the top of their list.
(5) Water Paint pads by Crayola
Keeping kids occupied in restaurants or at doctor’s appointments is a big factor when thinking about travel toys. Will the item engage your child? Is it messy? Will you lose pieces? Can your children get too dirty?
We’ve always found that colouring and small, simple crafts are fabulous ways to keep them entertained. We purchased quite a few of these Crayola water paint sets from Walmart and Amazon.ca and found them to be quite useful in restaurants, when we’re on the road. You simply put a bit of water on your side plate or in a little glass and the pages come to life.
Again, it’s great for any age really. Our youngest guy (1.5 years) typically just dips the brush into water and drinks it, but it’s engaging nonetheless.
(6) Travel Easel.
There’s a large variety of compact travel art sets that are designed with travel in mind. The brushes, paints and accessories are all much more secure than in a standard art set. Some come with stands so the case folds out itself into the actual easel and everything is there and ready to be played with. Again, most of these are small and fit in a suitcase so they can easily be wrapped and given out while on a trip. They’re also great for planes and restaurants where the surface is more stable. We haven’t yet come across one that works well in the car though because the motion and movements can get a bit awkward when drawing.
(7) Kidizoom Action Cam by VTech
This is one of the most exciting gifts of the season and it’s absolutely perfect for a travelling family. It’s essentially like a Go-Pro for kids — a camera and video camera specifically designed and cater toward children. It’s versatile and durable so kids can do what kids do best — play, get active and be rough & tough. And the best part is the price: $69.99
It’s very easy to use – kids just plug a micro usb into a computer and upload their images and mini-movies. They can play back their own experiences and watch their days come to life. The device records their excursions from their own point of view (the camera mounts on a helmet, bike, skateboard etc) and allows them to document things as they see it.
For a family who’s always on the go or has plans to go away for the holidays, this is a very exciting gift. It’s also quite compact in the box so it’s portable and easy to wrap.
(8) Playskool’s Fold ‘n Go Busy Elephant
The Fold ‘n Go Busy Elephant is one of the cutest. coziest toys we’ve come across in terms of travel items. It’s compact (see the second image below) and folds up into itself.
It’s one of our favorite travel toys we’ve found for infants because it’s got everything parents look for – safe toy, diverse, engaging parts and it’s small.
Our toddler even enjoyed testing it out because he loves the action of putting things into things and taking them out. When unrolling the plush elephant, there’s so much excitement that seems to come out of it.
(9) Random small toys saved specifically for travel
There are a ton of great, random small toys that work amazingly to occupy young minds whether on the road or on a plane. We pack ours up as soon as we get home or to our destination so they always feel new. We recommend selecting items that can easily be cleaned and have few detachable parts (so you don’t lose them during the voyage). If it’s the holiday season, gift wrap each of them so the kids have something to tear open. The toys don’t have to be new…it’s just the act of revealing something slowly that tends to get them all excited.
(10) Doodle Travel Mat
There are tons of great different travel mats (we ordered three this holiday season) that work well too occupy kids in hotel rooms, at relatives’ homes or in the airport while waiting to board a flight. They fold up like paper and then fold out on a floor. Kids can doodle and create art while passing the time during travel.
Note: We’re having an issue getting the photos uploaded but as soon as we’re ready they’ll be up.
Let us know if you’ve come across any great toys for travel or for holiday gift-giving while on the road. We love to hear from you!!
Angie & Rick