Top 10 Road Trip Toys For Toddlers in 2023

Heading out on a long road trip with your toddler soon? Or heck, even an hour-long journey down the road can feel like a million miles when there’s a little one in the back crying out for your attention and to be entertained.

Before you embark on a long car journey with a toddler, you need to check out this guide to the most appropriate toys for toddlers in the car.

What Makes a Great Road Trip Toy for a Toddler?

Toddlers really are a tricky bunch to travel with. This age and stage really brings back the best and worst of all our travel memories for us! The memories are undoubtedly beautiful, and we wouldn’t change those moments for the world. However, don’t be mistaken; travelling with a toddler takes careful planning.

Whilst yes, we do recommend you pack toys for a toddler, you don’t need to go overboard – there’s only so much room in your diaper bag! And at the end of the day, all your toddler really wants is YOU!

Make sure any car travel toys you buy for toddlers:

  1. Are safe for your toddler to play with without direct supervision (particularly if you cannot directly reach your infant in the car).
  2. Not too small, so no risk of being swallowed or disappearing off between car seats.
  3. Won’t distract the driver – we’re talking those horribly noisy ones – or even worse, a tablet being played at full pelt and no headphones!!

On this toddler toy list, we have deliberately ignored electronics. Yes, in theory, you could start introducing a small tablet at this age or passing them your device to get them through a tough moment. But there are so many other wonderful and engaging toys for this age group, you really don’t need to resort to electronics just yet (car toys for older kids, though, we’d definitely consider this).

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Our Top 10 Favorite Toddler Toys for Road Trips

We’ve selected here ten tried and tested toddler travel toys that are perfect for long road trips.

1. Manhattan Toy Soft Activity Book

Manhattan Toy Soft Activity Book with Tethered Toy, Sunny Day

Soft Activity Books have hands down been one of our best toddler entertainers over the years. Children can independently explore with a variety of different scenes to choose from.

All the parts attach to the book, so no need to fear missing parts, and you can even teether the book to their infant car seat, so it doesn’t fall down. And no problem if it ends up in their mouth as it’s machine washable.

2. Buckle Toy – Buster Square

Buckle Toys - Buster Square - Learning Activity Toy - Develop Fine Motor Skills and Problem Solving - Easy Travel Toy - Educational Classroom Must Have

Buckle Toy Buster is one of our favorite toddler road trip toys. Buster is a small soft, foldable lovie, ideal as a toddler toy for road trips. There are six different clasps and buckles, allowing for several different activities that can be undertaken independently.

Buster now has some beautiful colored friends too, like the Pink Bella, and Bright Yellow Bongo. You’ll be pleased to know they are easily machine washable too!

3. Learn to Dress Kitty

Alex Little Hands Learn To Dress Kitty Kids Toddler Art and Craft Activity

Learn to Dress Kitty is a wonderful, loveable teddy with 11 different activities for small hands, from ties to zips and buttons, a guaranteed car entertainer without any small parts to go missing making them the perfect road trip toy for a toddler.

4. Billy Bear Busy Board Toddler Backpack

Buckle Toys Bear Backpack - Toddler Backpack & Stuffed Animal Learning Activity – Develops Fine Motor & Basic Life Skills – Soft Plush Kids Travel Toy - Billy Bear

Billy Backpack Bear (from the same makers as Buckle Buster) is a great way for your toddlers to store a few of their small possessions with them on your next road trip. As a toddler backpack, it’s small and light (13″ x 8″) with the added bonus of plenty of fine motor fun, plus, Billy has his own belly clock – perfect for answering that question, “are we there yet!”

5. Bebe Monde Crinkle Baby Books

Soft Baby Book Cloth Crinkle Baby Books Toys 0-6 Months, Baby Shark Infant Baby Toys 6 to 12 18 Months for Babies Infants Toddler Newborn Baby Boy Girl Shower Gifts,Teether Teething Sensory Toys & Box

Bebe Monde Crinkle Baby Books are another great option for toddlers in the car, as they come with lots of added extras, including sensory touches that are soft chewable and satisfyingly crinkly! They’re still super light, so an easy inclusion in your luggage, and yes, machine washable!

6. Quiet Book for Toddlers

deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers - Montessori Basic Skills Activity Toys – Preschool Learning Soft Travel Toy & Sensory Educational Busy Book for 3 Year Old Boys & Girls + Zipper Bag, Red

Montessori Activity Quiet Book is another great road trip toy for toddlers without parts that can go missing, everything your toddler needs is sewn into this soft activity book.

Plenty of bright colors and engaging activities, from zips to snapping and tying. It even comes with it’s own machine washing bag, so small parts don’t get damaged in the wash.

7. Magnetic Drawing Board

FLY2SKY Magnetic Drawing Board Magna Drawing Doodle Board Travel Size Toddler Toys for 1-2 Year Old Sketch Writing Colorful Erasable Sketching Pad Birthday Gifts Boys Kids Educational Learning Toy

As your toddler’s dexterity improves, we love introducing a Magna Doodle Magnetic drawing board. We’re starting to get a little chunkier now than the soft toys, so keep it to toddler lap size and watch the appropriate age group.

The pens on Magna Doodle products normally attach, but the stamps and other attachments may not!

8. Alphabet Water Cards

Coolplay A-Z 26 Alphabet Water Cards, Children Drawing Card for Kids Educational Toys for Travel

Alphabet Water Painting is such a great travel toy for toddlers. They are super easy to fit in your bag, far less messy than normal paint. You only need a few drops of water, and your little artist is ready to go. We love that the Alphabet water cards come clipped together, so the parts don’t go missing, making them the perfect toddler toy for the car. You can also get these water painting cards and numbers.

9. Hide & Seek Alphabet Pop-Up

Battat – Hide & Seek Alphabet Pop-Up – 50 Shapes Colors Letters Numbers – Learning Toys for Toddlers – Phthalates & BPA Free - Red, Lime, Sea, Coral - 13" Large

This Hide-And-Seek Alphabet Pop-Up has 50 shapes, color and letter push flaps. Made with sturdy BPA-free plastic, it’s again getting on the larger chunkier side for small children but guaranteed hours of self-guided fun.

With its own carry handle, your little one can take it everywhere with them on your road trip.

10. Car Seat Toddler Travel Tray

CarSeat Tray -Toddler Travel Tray Guaranteed to Keep Kids Occupied & Entertain for Hours, Prevent Frustration While Driving, Sturdiest & Most Comfortable Travel Tray for Car Seat (Blue)

As your little one starts to grow, it’s time to level up their car play space! A Car Seat Travel Tray works great for your older toddlers who are moving on to the next stage of travel toys, where coloring and higher concentration level games can take place.

Look for features such as built-in bottle holders and a handy carry strap when choosing a car travel tray for your toddler.

More Road Trip Activities for Toddlers

Whilst toys that engage your little one will most definitely help, remember the most important thing your little one wants is YOU!

Now we know driving the car from the back seat really isn’t practical, but here are a few more ideas on how to engage your toddlers on long road trips, even if you’re the driver:

Songs – a singalong in the car to their favorite nursery rhyme is bound to put a smile on your little one’s face. Allow yourself to have fun and be goofy! Mis-singing their favorites and add your own words (maybe about your destination) always gives our toddlers a giggle

Imagination games – I’ll admit I’ve always found this one tough; I simply think I was born without this creative bone! But you can do it!!! Once you get started your little ones will help keep the creativity flowing. Start with a sensible story, then each of you has to add a silly twist.

Audiobooks – When you’re all done with the talking, a great way to pass the hours on a long car journey. A wonderful non-toy gift you can suggest to family & friends is to give something like Audible a try.  They have a great range of kids’ storybooks to choose from – as well as adults; a few you could try:

Snacks – We cannot emphasize enough how important snacks are for a long journey – they are half the event in themselves, never mind what’s happening out the window! Do take care with toddlers, though; if they are in the back unaided, it may be sensible to pull over for snack stops, a good chance for you to all stretch your legs.

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© Family Road Trip

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