15 Terrific Travel Toys for a 3-Year-Old

Just when you thought the terrible two’s were over, along comes your three-year-old!

A fun yet still really challenging age to be traveling with your kids. Their attention spans are short, and their need for interaction is vital – be it with you or an activity to get engrossed in (before tossing that aside and professing their boredom and a need to wee).

Don’t panic, parents. We’ve been there! This too shall pass….

In this post, we’re going to talk you through all our favorite travel toys taking you from toddler to the pre-school years – the best travel toys for a 3-year-old.

This post is part of our tried and tested travel gear series

If your child is slightly younger, don’t miss our post best travel toy ideas for a 2-year-old

As Amazon Associates, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases made from this page.

TL;DR – Summary of the Best Travel Toys for a 3-year-old

We summarise here a list of the best travel toys for 3-year old, but do read on for more tips on what to look for in the perfect travel toy and exactly why we love them!

Type/BrandCapacity & FeaturesDimensionsPricing
Skip Hop Toddler Backpack100% Polyester w/PVC Backing
Front pouch
Roomy main compartment
Easy-to-clean lining
Write-on nametag inside
‎Bottle Holder
Max capacity is 62 lbs
Recommeded age is 3 - 4 years
5 x 12 x 11 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular CrayonsDurable non-roll crayons
10 vibrant colors
Triangular shape
Made completely of break-resistant plastic--not wax
Recommended age is 36 months - 6 years
8 x 5 x 1 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Coloring BookAn alphabet to color
One letter, one animal from A - Z
Fascinating facts
56 pages
Recommended age is 2 - 4 years
8.5 x 0.16 x 11 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Wikki Stix144 Wikki Stix
Scrapbooking Kit
Non toxic
Waxed Yarn
Recommended age is 3 years and up
10 x 2 x 8 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Wikki Stix" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Pop Fidget BagSoft durable silicone
Removable and adjustable strap
Recommend age 3+
5.3 x 12 x 4 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Dot to Dot for Tiny Tots Wipe Clean Activity Book56 pages
Full of simple dot-to-dot exercises
Maze puzzles
Recommended age is 2 - 3 years
8.46 x 0.35 x 10.85 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Under the Sea (Magnetic Story & Play Scene)8 pages
20 magnets
Four different ocean scenes
Recommended age is 2 - 5 years
8 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Skoolzy Stacking Toddler Peg Board38 Piece Set
Sorting & Stacking Games
Color Matching
Shape Recognition Toy
Non-Toxic, BPA-Free, Lead-Free & Phthalates-Free
Recommended age is 24 months and up
9 x 2 x 10 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Giggle & Pebbles Educational Magic Sticker PadReusable, Washable and Non-Adhesive Stickers
Farm, Zoo, Ocean Animals, for Storytelling
3 fun scenes
11 x 8 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Bluey Sticker Playset35 reusable puffy stickers
2 sided play scene
7.8 x 9.3 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Buckle Toys Barkley DogMontessori toy
5 kid-friendly buckles
Can clip to car seats or strollers
11 x 6 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Highlights Hidden picture games256 pages
Rore than 115 hilarious Hidden Pictures puzzles
Recommended age is 3 - 6 years
8.38 x 0.55 x 10.94 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Highlights Hidden picture games10 pages
Sensory play without mess
Recommended 3 years and up
11 x 9 x 2.5 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Coolplay Kid Activities Water Drawing MatFolded to carry and storage easily
Includes magic pen
No ink No mess
Recommended age is 3 years and up
15.35 x 11.42 x 0.79 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Melissa & Doug On The Go Water WowMess Free Coloring Books
4 reusable white pages
Refillable Water Pen
Recommended age is 36 months - 6 years
6 x 1.5 x 10 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Pocket Etch a SketchMagic screen
Pocket-sized version
Draw with knobs
Shake to erase
No batteries required
Recommended age is 36 months - 12 years
3.54 x 0.79 x 3.35 inches $- Check Latest Price Here
Stacking Robots9 wooden robots
Durable and non-toxic finish
Recommended age is 36 months - 10 years
11.5 x 1.5 x 7.75 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Bath Suction Toys27 Suction toys
Dinosaur egg storage case
4.3 x 5.3 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
PlayTape Road1 Roll of 30 ft. x 4 in. Black Road
1 Roll of 12 Curves
Easy to tear
Sticks to any surface
Easy to clean up
30 ft$- Check Latest Price Here
Brio Labyrinth Take-AlongOne piece labyrinth game
Made of European Beech wood
Fully sealed and self contained
Recommended age is 3 years and up
9.45 x 7.09 x 1.97 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Fire HD 8" Kids Edition Tablet8" HD Display
32 GB
Blue Kid-Proof Case
1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
Kid-safe browser
9.6 x 6.1 x 1.0 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Kidrox Toddler HeadphonesTiger-Ear
Max volume reaching 85 dB
Durable & Soft Materials
Noise Isolation
Recommended age is 1 - 3 years
6.85 x 5.94 x 2.72 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
iClever Kids Bluetooth HeadphonesBTH02 Kids Headphones with MIC
22H Playtime, Bluetooth 5.0 & Stereo Sound
Adjustable Headband
Foldable & Durable
6.1 x 2.6 x 7.2 inches$- Check Latest Price Here
Lusso Gear Kids Travel TrayIncludes a dry erase board and pen/eraser set
8x10" tablet compatible
Carry strap included
Folds flat
16.6 x 12.2 x 1.3 inches$- Check Latest Price Here

What to look for in travel toys for a three-year-old

Interaction is the name of the game in this age group. Your child can start to take on toys with smaller parts and more involved activities that work on cognitive and fine motor skills as well as creative play.

What sort of toys to take depends a little bit on your modes of transport and luggage space. As a general rule, we insist that travel toys for all ages be as light and noise-free as possible – please, please do not disturb your fellow passengers and nothing with invaluable or integral parts that, if they get lost, will ruin the toy or game.

If you’ll be camping and outdoors, this is the perfect opportunity to find more engaging toddler toys for camping – think wide open spaces and those gross motor skills! And don’t forget special toys for the beach!

Variety is the name of the game too. Don’t overpack, but do have a variety of options available. Coloring was their favorite activity yesterday. Now they can’t stand the sight of it. Bring along several lightweight options in their own pack or slip them into your handbag as a backup.

Toys for 3-year-olds; Don’t forget siblings

The other factor that many parents need to consider for this age group is the interaction with siblings.

  • Many 3-year-olds have younger siblings to consider too. If they are at the sitting upright stage, they will no doubt have a fascination with what big brother or sister is playing with, to the huge annoyance of your 3-year-old! Watch for anything with small parts or easily breakable still.
  • Older siblings don’t want to be annoyed by the noise, mess, and consistent need to help their sibling if a game is too complicated. Equally, it’s an age where a younger child can learn a lot and enjoy this interaction with an older sibling, so think about toys and games that can span age groups or be played in pairs.

Best travel toys for your three-year old

Without further ado, here are our favourites that have lasted us through both boys and girls in the 3-year-old age group.

Toddler Backpack

Skip Hop Toddler Backpack, Zoo Preschool Ages 3-4, Unicorn

Pull along suitcase? Now we know some travel parents will adamantly recommend a ride along suitcase at this age, but our personal experience – just don’t! We never recovered from the trauma of using a Trunki too early; they are made for older kids. As a cautious estimate, I’d say wait until your child is at least 4-years-old. Otherwise, it will end up being simply another novelty item you end up pulling or carrying along yourself.

Let’s start with your Toddler Backpack. At this age, we started introducing backpacks for our children to wear and enjoy the responsibility of carrying themselves. The key is to keep it light. They may not fit all of their toys and snacks into this bag it’s a great start for them (just remember, at some point, you may end up carrying it too).

A good choice for the toddler age group is a backpack that can double as a harness – with a secure chest strap and tether or leash. Your child can have some independence but still be kept close by.

Trunki Kids Ride-On Suitcase & Toddler Carry-On Airplane Luggage: Frank Fire Truck Red

You can check out our full guide to ride-on kids luggage here.

Large Crayons

Large crayons (preferably triangular so they don’t roll away) are the perfect companion for this age group. Bring along their favorite coloring books, or ideal for meals out, anywhere you can grab some paper, really.

If you’re getting an accompanying coloring book for this age group, keep it small enough to fit in their little bags.

Wikki Stix

Arts and Crafts for Kids, Scrapbooking Kit, Non-Toxic, Waxed Yarn, Fidget Toy, Reusable Molding and Sculpting Playset, American Made by Wikki Stix, 24 pack

Three is a great age to introduce Wikki Stix. These are great for creativity and fine motor skills, the different designs they can make is endless. They are inexpensive too, so there is no fear if you lose some, and they are super imaginative. It’s quite easy to just grab a handful at a time for their day pack and pull them out for those short breaks or long car rides.

Fidget Bag

Pop Fidget Toys It Shoulder Bag, Pop Fidget Toy It Crossbody Purse, Popper Push Bubble Fidget Sensory Stress Release Toys for Kids, School Supplies Backpack Messenger Bag for Girls (CM)

Fidget toys are still on trend for your three-year-old! If they have moved on from basic poppers and stick-on spinners – which we recommend for the younger age groups – this might be the next step for a maturing tot.

Help your 3-year-old girl feel all grown up with her very own push bubble bag! The strap can be removed for an easy toy, or leave the shoulder strap on for easy carrying.

Wipe Clean Dot to Dot

Dot to Dot for Tiny Tots Wipe Clean Activity Book

Wipe Clean Dot to Dot is a great simple first activity book for preschool-aged kids developing fine motor skills and problem-solving. The pages are easy to wipe clean, so you can use them again and again with a dry-erase marker, and we love that its spiral bound at this age, making them easy to use on the go.

Magnetic story books

Under the Sea (Magnetic Story & Play Scene)

Magnetic storybooks make the perfect toy for the go. Perfect for older toddlers who need a little imagination time with and without some adult help.

They can be used as a smaller book when you’re on the move, and then when you have more space, fold out the larger playmat. Parts can go missing but are not integral to enjoying the game.

Schoolzy Peg Board

Skoolzy Stacking Toddler Peg Board 38 Piece Set - Sorting & Stacking Games Color Matching & Shape Recognition Toy for Toddlers & Preschoolers, Age 3+ Includes Pegs Foam Board Storage Bag and eBook

Schoolzy peg board is great for travel as it stores up into its own little carry pouch but contains hours of imaginative fun. A lacing and stacking learning game, you have plenty of different combinations to explore. Perfect for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, an introduction to counting, maths, and problem-solving.

Reusable Stickers

Reusable stickers are an absolutely perfect travel companion for your three-year-old. It’s not the end of the world (famous last words!) if one or two go missing along the way, and you can recreate pictures and stories over and over again (with no sticky mess left behind like normal stickers)

These are undoubtedly the best thing to pack if you have a long haul flight and small children to entertain.

(Top tip – be mindful of size when ordering reusable sticker books. We had a lovely Melissa & Doug collection but far too big to fit in any kid’s backpacks, or ours!)

Buckle Toys – Barkley Dog 

Buckle Toys - Barkley Dog - Plush Animal Learning Toy - Develop Fine Motor Skills - Counting and Color Recognition Stuffed Animal - Perfect Travel Toddlers Essentials

A buckle toy that can double as a cuddly teddy makes the best toy for travel! Little Fingers will be kept busy with this playful travel companion toy.

Hidden Picture Games

Jumbo Book of My First Hidden Pictures (Highlights Jumbo Books & Pads)

Our kids absolutely love hidden picture games; they’ve been a savior in many a queue or waiting for meals to arrive!

3 is a great age to start kids on the hidden picture journey. Some will find them easier than others, so do base the books on the appropriate age group, or you can lose their interest fast. Highlights have an incredible collection to choose from – sea creatures to farm animals or dinosaurs to suit little kids interests.

Montessori Busy Book

deMoca Montessori Busy Book for Toddlers, Travel Quiet Book with 10 Pages for Learning Boys and Girls, Sensory Cloth Activity Book with Interactive Daily Activities, Travel Toy for Kids

Your 3-year-old certainly hasn’t outgrown the joy of busy books yet. Keeping little fingers busy with some imaginative play on a long journey, these deMoca Montessori Activity Books make great travel toys with their own little carry handle.

Coolplay Kid Activities Water Drawing Mat

Coolplay Kid Activities Water Drawing Mat Painting with Water Pen Airplane Travel Toy for Toddlers

Coolplay Kid Activities Water Drawing Mat is a no-mess coloring and drawing game that folds up ultra-small in this travel edition that can easily be used on a child’s lap while on the move. Simply top up the refillable water pen when your little artist is ready to get to work!

Water Wow Water Reveal Books

Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Coloring Activity Pad – Jungle - Party Favors, Stocking Stuffers, Travel Toys For Toddlers, Mess Free Coloring Books For Kids Ages 3+

And equally awesome for this age group are Water Wow watercolor books. A perfect toy for travel in a bring-along size, they only need a few drops of water to work. There’s no need for whole packs of crayons, and they are pretty mess-free. Once the water dries out, it can be colored in again and again. They now come in a wide variety of different themes to suit your young kids interests..

Pocket Etch a Sketch

-

Pocket Etch a Sketch are a great take-along toy that can last from the toddler years through to pre-school age, with the “better” quality products being introduced as their fine motor skills improve. They are great and lightweight but don’t go too cheap or they breakfast; nothing beats the original Etch a Sketch!

Stacking Robots

Schylling Wood Stacking Robots Puzzle

Stacking robots are getting on the larger end of toddler travel toys, but they are so much fun for the 3-year-old group (and I bet a few grown-ups will join in!) The box is quite large, but they do easily fit into a bag when you take them out of the packing, and the pieces are large enough tots will enjoy playing with them as individual toys as well as for stacking games.

Bath Suction Toys

Bath Toys 27 PCS Suction Toys Sensory Toys for Kids Ages 4-8 Boys Girls Stress Release Toys Travel Toys Suction Cup Toys Silicone

Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean bath time can’t still be fun! Bath toys that can double as plane and car entertainment make the perfect toy for travel. We love these little suction toys as they work equally well on car windows as they do on the side of the tub in the hotel room!

PlayTape Road

PlayTape Road Tape and Curves for Toy Cars - 1 Roll of 30 ft. x 4 in. Black Road + 1 Roll of 12 Curves

PlayTape Road has been a favorite with our youngest. Not ideal for on the move, but when you get to your destination, this is a super toy for the pre-school to toddler age group.

The tape leaves no residue, so stick it around your room on any flat surface, and you have an instant portable play space for your tot. 30 feet of tape is just 7 oz, so an easy one to throw in the diaper bag for lots of imaginative fun, BYO cars!

Brio Labyrinth Take-Along

BRIO - 34100 Labyrinth Take Along | A Fun Travel Version of The Classic Labyrinth Game for Kids Ages 3 and Up

Brio Labyrinth Take-Along would be at the top end of the age group as it definitely takes more skill and dexterity but is good for occupying time and developing all-important hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and fine motor skills in young children.

There are no parts to lose, and it’s made by a top-quality toy manufacturer (we have tonnes of their train set gear too!)

Kindle


, 8" HD Display, 32 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case (Previous Generation - 8th)

We did our best to stay screen-free with this young age group, but I won’t deny that this was around the age we started introducing the Kindle to our arsenal of traveling entertainment.

We would recommend only starting with electronic devices and screen time from age 3; primarily as before this age, younger toddlers really struggle to keep headphones on – I hate it when others loudly play with their electronic devices, so I expect the same from my own children’s toys.

Headphones

This brings us to our final 3-year-old essential, headphones! I’d be lying if I said there was a brand that works really well with toddlers and preschoolers.

Don’t go too cheap as they’ll break on the first go, but equally accept that you may only get one trip out of a pair of headphones – pre-schoolers can be inadvertently pretty tough! The important thing to look for in toddler headphones is volume limiting to protect their ears.

You’ll find our complete guide to the best brands of toddler headphones here

Toddler Travel Tray

Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray for Toddler Car Seat, Travel Tray for Kids Car Seat, Lap Tray for Airplane, Kids Travel Desk Essential Accessories, Carseat Table Tray for Kids Road Trip Activities (Black)

Last but not least, 3 is a great age to start using a travel tray on long road trips. It’s a great idea to find a kids’ travel tray that will fit neatly over their car seat, and this will give your tot an extra play surface (as well as keep items like their water bottle in easy reach).


Other ways to entertain your toddler while travelling

Whilst it’s great to have an arsenal of toys and entertainment to hand, the most important thing they want at this age is YOU! Here are a few more ideas to help kids entertained on long trips:

Audiobooks – a great way to pass the hours on a long car journey. A summer road trip is a great time to give something like Audible a try, there’s a great range of kids’ storybooks to choose from – as well as adults’ (yes, one day you may get to read again!), or you can even try free podcasts suitable for toddlers & preschoolers.

Snacks – oh, we cannot emphasize this enough! Any traveling with kids, snacks are your best friend. Use them strategically, keep the sugar levels under control, and keep them coming! Even if you have no toys to hand, have snacks!

Songs – a singalong in the car to their favorite nursery fits is bound to put a smile on your little one’s face. Allow yourself to have fun and be goofy!

Imagination games – I know I find them hard to get into too, but making up tall stories is a great way to entertain little ones and make the hours go by. Take turns adding to a sensible story and see how far you get. Or why not try to invent your own animal, a theme park, or create your dream house?

You can find more of our favorite travel games in the car suggestions here.


More travel tips for your 3-year-old

As we mentioned at the outset, it’s an age we really did love and hate traveling with our three kids.

It’s a real in-between age, not quite a toddler, not quite a pre-schooler. They are incredibly curious as to what is happening around them; many at this age are verbalizing well and clearly expressing their thoughts and feelings, which makes it such a fun time.

However, we know napping is still incredibly important, getting them to walk independently and getting them washed and fed on the move while asserting their will – often very vocally! There’s nothing you can’t tackle, though, with a little careful planning.

You may want to check out these guides relevant to 3-year-olds.

As challenging as travel was at 3 years old with all of our children, it’s also made for some of the fondest memories as you watch your baby transform into a worldly (and often strong-willed!) little person.


Bookmark this page or save this to Pinterest for later

Disclosures: We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. You can read our full disclosure policy here.

© Our Globetrotters

Like it? Share it!

One thought on “15 Terrific Travel Toys for a 3-Year-Old

  1. Laura Walker says:

    I bought the Arts and Crafts set for my 3 year old, she loves playing with them over and over. This is very helpful, it keeps my daughter quiet all the way and doesn’t ask to play on my phone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.