Ten Toys to Pack for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers

Anyone who has travelled with a small child will know that space-saving in the suitcase is a major issue. By the time you’ve squeezed in a week’s supply of nappies, wet wipes, a first-aid kit, bottles of Calpol, milk bottles, Ella’s Kitchen fruit pouches etc etc, the space left for children’s toys can be severely lacking.

So below is a list of ten toys that often make their way into my luggage, chosen for their maximum-entertainment-for-minimum-suitcase-space properties.

10 toys to pack for toddlers and pre-schoolers

Scrunch Bucket – the bucket that squashes down and squeezes into a small space! Genius! Great for water play, collecting shells, carrying other toys… rubbish for sandcastles.

Check prices for the Scrunch Bucket here


Scrunch Ball – an inflatable ball, that squishes down in your suitcase then blows up with a straw. Mine lives in my beach bag, and we never holiday without it.

Check prices for the Scrunch Ball here


Stacking Cups – who doesn’t love a nest of stacking cups? Great for water play, making sandcastles, washing hair in the bath, building towers…

Check prices for stacking cups here


Floating bath/pool toys – a few of those floatable animal ones that you can squirt people with across the pool.

Check prices for floating bath/pool toys here


Puzzles – not the heavy wooden kind, or the large fill-the-floor kind obviously. But a few smaller cardboard puzzles can easily be packed into Ziploc bags and shoved in the suitcase. My kids will happily do the same ones over and over to show off their puzzle prowess.

Check prices for puzzles here


Crayons, plus colouring/sticker books – ideal for long holiday lunches, and that awkward time at the beginning of a flight before the seatbelt sign goes off and you can switch on the iPad.

Check prices for crayons and coloring books here


Playdoh – needs no introduction… Throw in a few small travel-size pots and some shape cutters and you’ve got a rainy day, or airplane activity. And you don’t need to worry about it being trodden into your carpet, because – oh yeah! You’re on holiday; it’s not your carpet! (disclaimer: joke… I am a responsible mother and would never treat other people’s property with such disrespect).

Check prices for Playdoh here


Finger Puppets – we once stayed in a hotel in Switzerland where they handed these out to the kids on reception pretty much every time we walked through. We now have a bagful and they are great for imaginative play and entertaining children on the airplane. (Ikea do a good, cheap set).

Check prices for Finger Puppets here


Wikki Stix – I’ve only recently discovered Wikki Stix, although apparently they’ve been around for 25 years. These self-sticking sticks can be moulded and shaped into whatever craft shape your imagination allows. And they take up next-to no space.

Check prices for Wikki Stix here


Ipad – I debated whether to add this to the list, as there are so many anti-iPaders out there. But let’s be honest, there’s not many of us travel mamas who would set foot on a plane without one. And you can load it up with so many puzzles and educational games that your little ones will never need seek out Peppa Pig (but then again, whatever keeps them quiet on a 12-hour flight, right?) Need inspiration for toddler-friendly iPad apps? See our post Best iPad Apps for Toddlers.

Check prices for iPads here


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2 thoughts on “Ten Toys to Pack for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers”

  1. Awesome blog. Am going to seek out some wikki stix. I thought I was home free with no more long flights with kids ahead of me. Instead I’ve now found myself driving long distances with them. Almost worse!

    • Thanks Ange! Yes I remember those long drives in New Zealand all too well… look on the bright side – at least there are no other passengers around if they have a meltdown 😉


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