Ten Toys to Pack for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers

A look at all the best toys to pack or toddlers and pre-schoolers for your next family holiday. 

10 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.

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Foldable Bucket

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

JOYIN 3 Packs Foldable Pail Bucket with Shovels (Bonus Mesh Bag), Collapsible Buckets Multi Purpose for Beach, Camping Gear, Beach Party, Camping and Fishing, and Fun Summer Activities

Inflatable Ball

An inflatable ball, that squishes down in your suitcase then blows up quickly whenever you need it is the perfect toy for travel.

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Mine lives in my beach bag, and we never holiday without it.

Stacking Cups 

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

The First Years Stack Up Baby Cups, Bathtub Toys for Kids, 4.8 Ounce (Pack of 8)

Floating bath/pool toys

Great for bath time, learning to swim or just for squirting people with across the pool.

Munchkin Ocean Squirts Bath Toy, 8 pack


Jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles can be great as travel toys.

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.

Montessori Mama Wooden Puzzles for Kids Ages 4-8 | Jigsaw Puzzles for Kids Ages 3-5 | 3-Pack Kids Puzzles Ages 6-8 | 120 Piece Learning Games for Kids

My kids will happily do the same ones over and over to show off their puzzle prowess.


Colouring/sticker books

We always travel with an assortment of sticker books, colouring books, paper dolls, mazes, dot-to-dots. We also love the Colour Wow water colour books that allow the kids to colour in with no mess. 

Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads, 3-pk, Colors and Shapes, Fairy Tales, Animals

There are so many great activity books to choose from and it is easy to always have one in your handbag for lunches and dinners and include a few in your hand luggage for the plane.



Play Doh needs no introduction but is great as a travel activity. Throw in a few small travel-size pots and some shape cutters and you’ve got a great rainy day, or airplane activity.

Play-Doh Starter Set


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.

Oiuros 20pcs Different Cartoon Animal Finger Puppets Soft Velvet Dolls Props Toys Easter Basket Stuffers

We now have a bagful and they are great for imaginative play and entertaining children on the airplane. 

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.

WikkiStix Traveler - 144 Wikki Stix in a Bright, Colorful Carrying Travel case and 12 Page Activity Book - Made in The USA



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.

2020 Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Green (4th Generation)

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.



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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