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Our 12 Favorite Packable Toys for Family Travel

You don’t need a whole toy chest to keep kiddos entertained on the road — just a few easy-to-pack essentials and some group-play classics.

Nikki Ridgway

Sponsored Content Presented by All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy

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Wherever you are in the world, kids will always need feeding, watering, and playtime. The novelty of travel usually takes care of a big portion of the entertainment, but for downtime between activities, a few well-chosen toys will keep everyone happy. Think easy-to-pack items that won’t spill, don’t have a zillion pieces to lose, and will entertain multiple age groups. What are these unicorn items? Read on for our (surprisingly back-to-basics) favorites.

Micro Kickboard Maxi Scooter Deluxe

When your sightseeing goals are at odds with little legs' stamina, roll in the wheels. This Micro Kickboard Maxi Scooter Deluxe is a crowd favorite for its stability, durability, and easy assembly. Best for grade-schoolers who are just learning the ropes up to tweens who have mastered the turn and carve, this scooter features bonus LED wheels to let parents keep an eye out for their riders even as dusk falls. Best of all, the modular setup makes for easy packing whether you’re road-tripping or hopping a flight overseas. Yes, it really does fit into a suitcase! (For ages 5-12)

Green Toys Jump Rope

Don’t underestimate the humble jump rope. Have fidgety kids on a long car ride? Stop for an energy-zapping skipping session. Are your keen fort builders missing their digs? String a towel over the rope for an instant hideout. A jump rope can be the reins for a game of horsey, a limbo pole for your most bendy family members, “microphones” for a twin karaoke battle, and anything else their imagination can conjure. This Green Toys edition extends to seven feet (but folds into a day-bag-size package) and, mega bonus, has handles made from 100% recycled plastic. Do-good goods are our favorite. (All ages)

Pizza Kite

Who doesn’t love pizza? And kite flying? Put them together and you get this awesome slice of pie soaring in the sky. A packing essential for almost any trip, but especially for trips to the coast, kites offer a whole-family activity in a fold-up package. Keep it in your back pocket for that low-energy lull after lunch, because once you catch the breeze, even the youngest family member can take control. It also sets a memorable scene for some classic family pics, so don’t forget to snap away. (For ages 6+)

Twee Chalk Cheesy Pizza Chalk Set

Speaking of pizza, this adorable chalk set is the perfect packing addition for family trips near and far. The case for chalk? It’s compact, easy to share, and super social since anyone can join in once you get started. This package is handmade in Philadelphia and designed for gritty surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Better yet, it’s more durable than chalkboard chalk so you can tote it in your daypack and share it with your less-than-gentle artistes. (For ages 3+)

Hearth Song Pick Up and Go Corn Hole

Ok, you might not want a pick-up-and-go corn hole set for your grand European tour, but for a single-destination road trip with friends, this portable set is the perfect outdoor centerpiece. Start a pre-dinner game ritual on day one so you can award a trip victor by the last night. A cinch to set up for both indoor and outdoor games, there are two hole sizes (for beginners and more seasoned players) and a handle for easy transport. Game on! (For ages 4+)

Kid Made Modern Wondrous Watercolor Set

This selection skirts close to our “no mess” warning, but makes the cut thanks to the easy clean-up and versatility. The 30-color tray is large enough that a whole gaggle of kids and grown-ups can paint at the same time, and while the gorgeous 10-sheet watercolor book will go fast, the paints work on any old paper. Keep a kitchen towel on hand and pack a few extra brushes in case everyone gets the creative bug at once. Like all Kid Made Modern products, these paints are artist quality and come in a range of vibrant colors. (For ages 3+)

Paint By Sticker

If your family travels include eating out for most meals, throw a few of these boredom-busting paint-by-sticker books into your suitcase to keep kids entertained while you, inevitably, wait. Even the littlest fingers can unfurl the stickers, though the difficulty rating varies from page to page, so be sure to choose the largest stickers for your youngest crafters. The book’s perforated edges mean everyone can work on their pages at the same time, and the finished products make colorful additions when hung in your temporary digs. Note to self: pack no-mess masking tape for an instant art gallery. (All ages)

The Super Book for Superheroes

For the kid who spends hours poring over workbooks and drawing pads at home, consider packing this wonderful superhero-themed art book. They’ll be crafting a super secret HQ on one page, considering a superhero’s emotions on another, and designing their own super flying baddie-zapping vehicle on another. It’s not the multi-purpose, easy-to-share item of most family travel toys, but if you’re expecting long waits at the airport or passages on a road trip, this activity book lets them get lost in a world of heroes and villains of their own making. (All ages)

Spot It!

This pint-sized package, also known as Dobble, has been a family favorite since landing on the toy shelves in 2011. The task of matching items on every pair of cards, no matter the combination, is a curiously satisfying pursuit for kids of all ages — including many grown-ups. The cards scatter easily, but clean up is quick thanks to the round shape and nifty tin, so even the youngest family members can pitch in. Spot It! is perfect backseat entertainment or as a go-to rainy day activity, and should be kept within reach of all family members, especially those who wake before the sun. (All ages)

Kinetic Sand 3-Pack

An easy-to-pack trio to have up your sleeve in case the weather forces you inside or a travel delay stops plays, this magic sand never dries out or makes a mess, and the castle-shaped holders double as molds so kids can craft a villagescape in three glittery pastel colors. The compact size also means it's perfect if your mini-traveler wants to “pack” their own bag of goodies. (For ages 3+)

Tegu Original Pocket Pouch

The kid- and parent-approved toy of toys, available in a highly transportable eight-piece pouch. Open-ended play happens naturally as kids craft animal shapes, construct (and demolish) buildings, create enclosures for beloved action figures, wonder about magnets, and on and on. Take them on the road, in the air, at the beach, or really anywhere busy hands need entertaining. (For ages 3+)

Franklin Sports Table Tennis To Go

If you’re headed to a destination that’s big on family time but low on toys, this genius portable table tennis setup is the perfect stopgap. All you need is a table and a competitive streak to get the whole family involved in a ping pong tournament. The retractable net attaches to any size table, so you could even start at a coffee table and let the most junior players find their swing. (All ages)

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