If you’ve ever traveled with kids, you’ve probably seen how downtime can leave the little ones hungry for a fun distraction. Whether you’re heading to the beach, camping or to Grandma’s, it’s always smart to have a few toys on hand, but what actually makes a great travel toy? Here are five tips to help you find toys that can go the distance:
- Toys that can be shared easily (think siblings, vacation friends, cousins and other relatives) are a wonderful place to start. When toys can be played many ways by kids (and adults!) of different ages and a varying number of players, children will be happy to pull them out again and again.
- It’s also wise to pack toys that can be played alone. Sometimes kids need a little time to decompress from the day’s events, and toys that can be played with solo, maybe somewhere quiet or off to one side, offer just that kind of escape.
- Toys that can be set up and played with in their own carrying case are fun and easy for everyone. They give kids an instant “playground” no matter where they are, and they help parents avoid having to chase little pieces down the airplane aisle or dig them out from under the car seat (how do they get so wedged in?!).
- Gravitate toward toys that Goldilocks would like – not too big and not too small. Packing a giant toy in your suitcase isn’t usually possible and travel-sized versions of toys and games are often not as fun as the “real” version. Even if they take up a little more space, toys that are “just right” will get played with more.
Finally, family trips can be the perfect time to surprise children with a new toy or game. A good trick is to wait to give it to them until times are desperate, i.e. an endlessly rainy afternoon. That way, being stuck inside can end up being a fun and surprising treat!
Happy trails to wherever your summer travels take you!
Kara is the Founder of Storytime Toys, a design company making children's toys to encourage reading, building and creativity.