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In our house, we travel more than most. Afterall, we’re Americans living on the other side of the world and it takes us 23 hours to see our families. With two little kids, we try to stay on top of fun travel distractions. I’d like to share our 11 must-have gadgets for easy travel with toddlers.
Lacing Toy Puzzles
Ok, so for kids from about ages 2 to 4 these little wooden lacing toys keep kids fairly entertained for a bit. For long trips, even 30 minutes with happily entertained kiddos is a blessing. I like Loobani Wooden Toddler Lacing Toys. They’re eco-friendly and made with non-toxic paints. Plus, they’re little and pack easily. So, you’ve got an eco-friendly, non-toxic, easy-to-pack, educational toy for your kids. When your kids are happy and entertained, it makes travel with toddlers so much more enjoyable. It’s a win.
This year, our family discovered Wallxin 150 Magnetic Puzzle Tangram Jigsaw Book. Everyone in our family loves it! Our toddler loves to create her own designs and sometimes she tries to actually make a puzzle. The point, though, is that she loves playing with this “travel-only” game, and it’s magnetic so the pieces don’t really get lost (as long as she keeps them on the board). The best part is that she enjoys the game AND it’s pretty educational.
We also found another magnet puzzle that we can’t wait to try on our next trip. This Teddy Bear Magnetic Puzzle Toy looks like my kids will love it. We save “travel” toys for travel so that they can look forward to the trip.
Usually, puzzles are a travel no-no for us, but then we found this Melissa & Doug Dinosaur 4-in-1 Wooden Jigsaw with Storage. We love this puzzle set because all of the pieces have fit inside of the box, and the lid acts as a surface for putting puzzles together. So our kids can play from their carseats and they (generally) don’t lose any of the pieces.
Melissa and Doug sell a bunch of different 4-in-1 puzzles. These are a hit in our home. You can hunt around Amazon to find the right puzzle for your family.
For even your rowdiest toddlers, this USATDD Wooden Tetrix Puzzle is fun for toddlers and adults. Our kids love it because the pieces are colorful and there really is no wrong answer. The pieces are different shapes. They’re fun to bite, and they’re super bright friendly toddler-friendly colors. Plus when mom and dad play with them, it’s THAT much more fun. It makes for nice family time on a long trip.
Ok, so I’m one of those parents who always finds a way to make each and every activity “learning time.” Luckily for me, I think my kids are too young to know that all parents don’t do this to their kids. But when it came to picking out a coloring book, this Toddler Coloring Book: Numbers Colors Shapes: Preschool Prep, Activity Book made me so happy.
We use this coloring book to identify numbers, shapes, and letters. We work on our colors. It’s fun for them and when I sprinkle in a few stealth “educational” questions, they’re working on foundational skills. Fun for the kiddos AND educational, which make it fun for parents. What could be a boring screen-filled trip, becomes a series of fun learning experiences. It’s a win-win.
Ok, parents, when all else fails there are electronics. Kids, like adults, get bored and tired of traveling after a few hours. So, to spice up the trip and add a little diversity, we always keep a few electronics in the activity cycle. Here are our favorite electronic travel companions.
My kids LOVE this thing. We can download Amazon movies and TV shoes. There are educational and fun apps that my kids adore. When you’re in an enclosed space with little kids, it’s nice to have fun things to keep them happy. This Kid Edition Amazon Fire (with the kid-proof case) keeps things quiet and happy when we’re traveling. It’s a favorite for long flights and long car trips.
Now, we didn’t buy an iPad for our kids, but we do have iPads. We’ve downloaded a bunch of kid-friendly fun apps that our kids enjoy and when we add them in our travel activity circulation, they are a fun distraction from travel, especially when they get bored or tired of being in the same place for so long (14-hour flights with two kids under 4). You work with whatever you’ve got, and the iPad has been a lifesaver at times.
Whether your kids are watching the kid-friendly flight provided movie, playing with kid edition Amazon Fire HD or playing an app on the iPad, having headphones that fit over your kids’ ears (not earbuds) is a must. Before I had this little epiphany, I think I put the earbuds back into a child’s ears one million times in the span of thirty minutes. These are a must-have, sanity saver. You’re welcome.
Favorite Kid-Friendly Apps
Apps, I could probably write a whole blog post on my favorite apps for travel with toddlers and younger kids, and I may one day. For now, here are our favorite travel apps. They never get old, and they’re educational. My 3yro loves these apps and the 16 mo sits quietly and watches the 3yro play (amazing!). We literally have to pry the iPad away when iPad time is over.
My 3yro new her alphabet but was having a hard time with all of the letters’ sounds. Enter Endless Reader. This app animates letters and words and will have your child repeated the sounds of letters in no time. They match letters and even learn sight words. Because of this app, my little one already has at least 20 site words memorized and recognizes them in storybooks, on billboards, and on street signs. When traveling with toddlers, you need a great app that will help them learn, keep them engaged, and keep the “I’m bored” conversations to the bare minimum. If your kid likes the free version to get extra words, you have to buy a bundle, but it’s worth it.
By the same creators of the Endless Reader App, Endless Numbers (aka: Endless 123) is just as amazing as its reading counterpart. This app helps your kid recognize numbers. Put numbers in sequence and it starts with basic math. It’s a great app and I’ve got a 3yro who can do basic addition and LOVES it. How great is that?
We have a ton more gadgets and tips for making travel with toddlers almost resembling a fun experience. It’s just that these 11 toys/gadgets are easy to pack, fun for play, educational, and our kids have enjoyed them. What great gadgets do you have to make travel with toddlers more fun?