The number one rule when traveling with kids is to be prepared. In order to help you out, we’ve rounded up loads of our favorite small travel toys ready to pack into your carry on and bring on board—all affordable, and some for as little as $2. You’ll find toddler toys, picks perfect for bigger kids, and cheap fidget toys, all made for on-the-go fun. Now, put your tray table up and prepare for take off!
Silly Putty Buddeez
Silly Putty is an old reliable travel toy, but Crayola found a way to up the fun factor. Silly Putty Buddeez come with mini molds that create teeny tiny finger puppets—a monkey, cupcake, heart-eyed emoji, or fierce T-rex. Kids can make the puppet, then smash up that putty, roll it, and start all over again.
Available at shop.crayola.com, $2.97.
Polly Pocket Out of Sight Campsight Compact
Pocket-sized Polly is back and ready for on-the-go adventures. New mini-kits include a doll and accessories, all packaged inside of a handy-dandy carrying case that doubles as a playspace. We like the camping compact that comes with a telescope and a tiny campfire, or you can choose from equally tiny and adorable sets like the ballet or a visit to the aquarium.
Available at toywiz.com, $6.99
Unicorn Tic Tac Toe
Make three in a row with this fun, portable tic tac toe game. Maine-based Etsy seller Modern Mama's Boutique's Unicorn Tic Tac Toe set packages ten heart-shaped playing pieces in a canvas bag that features a unicorn on one side and a simple black game board on the other. It's a sweet take on a classic.
Available at etsy.com, $3.95
Smushy Mushy Besties
Ripping open a new surprise toy while on the airplane adds an extra element of distraction. Smushy Mushy Besties are made of slow-rising foam so they can be squished down into an eensy weensy ball before rising up again. Each Smushy Mushy is a different food sporting a smiley face—like a taco, fortune cookie, or watermelon. Plus, these toys are scented, meaning they might overpower the stench from your seatmate's stinky socks.
Available at target.com, $2.99.
On the Go Scratch Art Color Reveal
We love bringing art supplies on the plane, and this new On the Go Scratch Art notebook is a fun way to do just that. By scratching away at the black-coated pages with a wooden stylus, kids uncover pictures full of sea life. The bright reds, blues, and greens are especially eye-catching, and the addition of facts on each page makes it an artsy and educational choice.
Available at melissaanddoug.com, $4.99.
Think of Crayola's new Globbles as a combination between a sticky hand and a stress ball - but without the icky residue sticky hands leave behind. In a pack of three, they'll keep kids busy with squishy, mushy fun. Bonus: you can rinse these fidget toys off, so they'll be clean and ready for the plane ride home.
Available at shop.crayola.com, $4.24.
MindWare Stretch String
Travelers of all ages can tie up, twist, and twirl MindWare's Stretchy String. One of the newest fidget toys, it can be stretched to over three feet long. Plus, it's a portable toy that easily fits in backpack pockets.
Available at target.com, $4.99.
Looking for your next family card game? DOS is here with a new twist on UNO—two discard piles and the chance to rack up points with a color match bonus. Be warned: DOS is a little trickier than the original game, so it's best for kids who are ready for a challenge.
Available at target.com, $5.99.
Felt Penguin Puzzle
Busy little ones love to put together puzzles, and this adorable felt penguin puzzle is especially appealing. It's super packable—lightweight, with just eight soft pieces and an optional carrying case. If penguins aren't your kid's thing, Etsy seller Ann's Craft House also offers felt puzzles shaped like a pig, owl, dolphin, and more!
Available at etsy.com, $8.
Playfoam Squashformers Robots
Kids can build rad robots with the aid of the two molds that come in the Playfoam Squashformers Robots package. Playfoam is squishy, moldable, and no mess—these little magical foam bits won't stick to clothes or airplane seats. It's an on-the-go creative toy for your mini makers.
Available at educationalinsights.com, $4.99.
LEGO Minifigures Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts
Even Slytherins and Gryffindors agree: LEGO's Harry Potter mini figures are magical. In surprise packs, this limited edition series includes favorite characters like Luna Lovegood, Dobby, and a couple of versions of Harry himself. It's the next best thing to a trip to Honeydukes.
Available at barnesandnoble.com $3.99.
Dionsaur Wind Up Toy
This pint-sized wind-up dinosaur can waddle right out of extinction onto your kiddo's tray table. Dino lovers are sure to dig it. Plus, at under $5, you can pick up a pair of them.
Available at papersource.com, $3.95.
Dry-Erase Activity Pad
Melissa and Doug's new Dry-Erase Activity Pad includes 20 pages of fun, from dot-to-dots to mazes. Since kids can fill out the pages, wipe them off, then start all over again, you'll be sure to get your money's worth out of this affordable travel toy.
Available at melissaanddoug.com, 4.99.
Plus Plus Mini Maker Tubes
Sloth and llama kits are the newest buildable sets in Plus Plus's line of super portable Mini Maker Tubes. Step-by-step instructions make it easy for airplane travelers to make the featured animal, or they can use the plastic bricks to make unique creations of their own.
Available at plusplus.com, $6.99.
Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships
Star Wars and Hot Wheels joined forces to create these speedy Carships. You'll find your Jedi's favorite Star Wars ship reimagined as a race car, from Poe's X-Wing Fighter to the Millennium Falcon. They make for fantastic travel toys in any galaxy.
Available at shop.mattel.com, $3.99.
Fingerlings - Mini Pencil Toppers
Adorable Fingerlings Mini Pencil Toppers include a tiny animal, bracelet, and a plastic charm. These monkeys, giraffes and pandas are sized just right to wrap around little fingers - or perch atop a pencil while your kiddo scribbles in her travel journal.
Available at target.com, $2.99.
Lunar Landing Sticker Kit
With this Lunar Landing Sticker Kit, kids can land on the moon, go on a moon walk, and explore outer space, all from the comfort of their airplane seat. The glow-in-the-dark stickers are ready to light up the night, and the fold-out moon scene makes for quick set-up and take down. If your kid has opted out of the space race, you can pick up a similar sticker kit with rainbow ponies or trains instead.
Available at mindware.com, $4.95.
Etsy seller 805 Masks' book-inspired finger puppets will take airplane puppet shows to new heights. You'll find your puppet master's favorite characters, from Elephant and Piggie-inspired creations to Peter Pan and his crew. Read the book, then put on a show!
Available at etsy.com, from $5.
AJ's Toy Boarders - Snowbard Series
Pick up a pack of AJ's Toy Boarders in the Snowboard Series, and you'll have twenty-four little green riders ready to catch air off the armrest. You'll get a bunch of cool parent points, and you'll have a happy, busy travel companion for the duration of your flight.
Available at toyboarders.com, $5.95.
Crayola Scented Stampers and Markers
We love that this Crayola Color Wonder kit includes loads of artsy fun without the mess. With five fruit-scented markers, blank paper, five stampers and a chocolate-scented ink pad, little ones will be kept busy coloring and creating.
Available at target.com, $9.99.
Feature photo: courtesy rawpixel.com