We’re preparing for two upcoming flights in less than a week. Our four-year-old is a temperamental toddler, so I can’t wait for him to turn five this year. In anticipation of traveling with a five-year-old, we wrote a guide on the best travel toys for 5 year olds.
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Our toddler has flown on over 100 flights, so he’s a professional traveler now. Flying with a toddler isn’t as daunting as it seems, although they test your patience and sanity.
For us, travel day is a free day. Although there are rules, we are more flexible because it can be a long day for everyone, so we give our little guy some grace.
We try to buy fun and educational toys for our little ones. To decrease your preschooler’s screen time, here are some of the best travel toys for 5-year-olds.
Fat Brain Toys Squigz
Fat Brain Toys Squigz are fun suction-cup-building toys for toddlers and older kids. These are the most versatile building toys for kids of all ages because they can stick to nearly any surface.
Kids can take their imagination to the next level with abstract designs and creations. They pop when taken apart, so cleaning up doesn’t feel like a chore.
Parents love that these latex-free silicone builders are residue-free, so they do not leave marks on your windows, bathtub, walls, or table.
Play Brainy Magnetic Toy Cars
Our son loves magnets and cars, so Play Brainy Magnetic Toy Cars was a no-brainer for us. If your little one likes to build, these are game-changers.
We love these as an alternative to LEGOS, which are just too expensive for young toddlers. I wish I had purchased these instead of the three LEGO sets our four-year-old lost.
The instructions are easy to follow for kids three and older. It’s the perfect way to help your kids develop their hand-eye coordination, ability to follow directions and motor skills.
The pieces are easy to connect, unlike other building blocks. They can make a helicopter, tow truck, excavator, dump truck, and more.
These are perfect for flights or long road trips with toddlers, plus they are affordable compared to the other travel toys.
Learning Resources Mental Blox
Our son tends to figure out toys/puzzles quickly, so we always try to find something that gives him a challenge without making him frustrated. It’s a delicate balance for a preschooler.
Learning Resources Mental Blox Go! is a fun 3-D puzzle game that will keep your little one having fun at home or on your next flight.
Help your 5-year-old build analytical and critical thinking skills by developing their curiosity through asking questions and following instructions.
There is a travel case, making it easier to keep track of the pieces. It’s the perfect size for your toddler’s backpack.
This puzzle game has 30 challenges and an activity guide to help your little one build. It will help your preschooler to build their confidence.
This travel toy is perfect for a 5-year-old because it helps build early math skills. Plus, if you have younger toddlers, it’s a great way to help them recognize shapes and patterns.
If you are looking for the best educational travel toys for 5-year-olds, this is the perfect game for your next long-haul flight.
Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Coogam Wooden Puzzle
We purchased the Coogam Wooden Puzzle for a long flight from Miami to Lisbon, and we love it. I think I play with it more than our son, but it’s fun to do together.
Our little one loves puzzles, and the other brands are too easy for this, so this is a fun challenge. The easy puzzles can be solved by a 5-year-old with the help of a parent.
Don’t worry about not solving the puzzle. There is a booklet with the solutions included if you get stumped.
Puzzles are a great way to challenge your little one and help improve their problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, and motor skills.
Sago Brothers Air Dry Clay
Sago Brothers Air Dry Clay is the perfect alternative to Play-Doh. I have always been against Play-Doh, but my wife is a former preschool teacher and believes Play-Doh is a great way to help little ones use their imagination.
This kit has everything your little one needs to let their imagination run wild, plus it includes a tutorial guide to help your preschooler make fun creatures.
There are 24 colors included in individually sealed packages, making them perfect for flying with toddlers.
The clay will dry naturally within 24 hours, so your toddler can make whatever they want and display it in their room.
If you do not want the clay to dry, this kit includes extra sealed bags to keep the air-dry clay soft until you are ready for it to set.
Honestly, I prefer air-dry clay to Play-Doh, so this is one of my favorite travel toys for 5-year-olds.
Magnetic Drawing Board
I grew up using the etch-a-sketch, and although I couldn’t draw at all, I loved it. This drawing board is the upgraded version of the old-school drawing board I used as a kid.
The Magnetic Drawing Board is easy to use for little ones and is a great way to help your preschooler learn. It’s an easy, lightweight, and screen-free travel toy for kids on flights or long car rides.
All your little one needs to do is point the magnetic stylus to pull the beads to the top to create their masterpiece. If they make a mistake, use the other side of the pen to push the ball back down.
Our son is obsessed with science( and magnets), so this will likely be one of his Christmas gifts this year, depending on where we are during the holiday.
LEGO Classic Creative Suitcase
Our son got the LEGO Classic Creative Suitcase for his birthday, and we love it. The travel case makes storing his LEGOS easier.
We took it up a notch and glued the LEGO baseplate to the top of the case to connect the LEGOS, and we don’t have to deal with the pieces falling on a flight or in the car.
I was against LEGOS for a while, but they are a lot of fun to build. Honestly, he has a few sets that I purchased for myself, but they turned into his travel toys.
If your 5-year-old can follow directions, LEGOS are one of my favorite travel toys because they can build anything.
It’s the perfect toy for them to explore their imagination and make something different every time.
Seckton Kids Camera
We ask our son to take pictures (for this site and social media), so he has become interested in cameras (and himself). Now he says, “Take a picture mama, Caleb looks so cute.” We are still working on him referring to himself in the third person, it’s a working progress.
The quality is what you’d expect of a kid’s camera with an 8 MP camera, but the video is in 1080p, which is perfect for your little one until they are old enough for a GoPro.
This camera includes a 32 GB SD card, so no extra accessories are needed. There are also 28 frames for your little photographer to create their masterpiece.
If you want to get your 5-year-old involved in your traveling adventures, this camera is the way to go.
Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse
If you aren’t familiar with our blog, I am a huge fan of Melissa & Doug. I believe they have some of the best toys for toddlers.
We have several of their toys, including the train set, that’s survived us traveling the world for nearly three years with a rough four-year-old.
He’s actually destroying the town with the train as I write this post from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I wrote all that to say; we only recommend travel toys we are willing to purchase for our son.
Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse is one of the most durable and portable doll houses for little ones. It has functional doors and includes 11 wooden pieces of furniture with two wooden dolls.
This dollhouse is the perfect way to keep your little one busy on a flight if you want to be screen-free. The handles are durable, so your little one can carry the dollhouse through the airport and onto the play like a big kid.
Magformers are an advanced version of the Magnatiles that we love. They are perfect for older kids.
Now that our little guy is older, these magnetic building shapes are perfect for helping our soon-to-be 5-year-old develop his problem-solving and math skills. It’s a great way to introduce science concepts (which he loves) in a fun way.
An instructional booklet is included with the magnet blocks, making it easier for creatively challenged parents like me to build fun models.
Skillmatics Educational Games
Skillmatics Educational Games are fun activities to keep your little one learning on the go. It’s a great way to keep your preschooler engaged during a flight.
The activity pads are double-sided, so more learning with less space. Your preschooler can fix mistakes or repeat the activities with the included dry-erase marker.
Some activities include learning animal habits, patterns, shapes, animal food chains, caring for our planet, and more.
Guess in 10 Junior
One of the things I love about being a digital nomad family is the time we get to spend together. Now that our son is older, we can finally play games (although sometimes frustrating) that last longer than five minutes.
One of our favorite toddler-friendly games is Guess in 10 Junior. It’s the perfect way to learn through play.
There are different versions of the game to mix and match as your toddler gets older.
You play the game by using the guider tiles to ask up to 10 questions to guess the animal on the card. The different versions of the games include underwater animals, professions, dinosaurs, food, superheroes, things that go, and sports.
A few examples include:
- How many legs does the animal have?
- Does the animal live in the forest?
- What does the animal eat?
- Does the animal have horns?
Guess in 10 Junior is a great way to interact with your preschooler while traveling. The whole family can join. See who can be the first to win seven games.
Skillmatics Art Activity
We all know kids love stickers. They are annoying for parents but fun for little ones.
The Skillmatics Art Activity is a fun no-mess sticker book for toddlers and preschoolers. They can use the stickers to dress up princesses, color animals, dinosaurs, or mermaids.
There are different books to keep your little ones entertained on a flight or during a road trip. The pages are double-sided for more fun.
It’s a great way to help reinforce colors for toddlers and help preschoolers create their own stories.
We like to use the pages as books for our son to make his own story to go with the pictures to make it more fun and encourage his imagination.
PaperCraft Fashion Parade
PaperCraft Fashion Parade allows your little one to create dolls with over 160 outfits. It’s the perfect way to keep your preschooler busy for hours on a long flight.
It’s the perfect way to keep your preschooler busy for hours on a long flight. Everything your little one needs is within the spiral notebook, so it easily fits in your little one’s travel backpack.
It’s one of the best travel activities for traveling with toddlers, especially if you plan on taking a long road trip.
Your little one starts off by coloring the accessories, then builds the perfect doll.
The pieces are easy to mix and match, so your preschooler can peel and restick as much as they want.
Color by Playfoam
Color by Playfoam is a fun alternative mess-free alternative to painting. This fun coloring set uses Playfoam to color a dragon or unicorn.
The kit includes five colors and a squisher for your preschooler to color each section. It’s a fun way for your little one to color without crayons.
Your little ones can even display their art when they finish using the kickstand in the coloring kit.
The best part about Color by Playfoam is that it’s reusable. All they need to do is scoop out the colors and create another masterpiece.
Make things more interesting with some glow-in-the-dark Playfoam.
Marvel Matching Game
We have a different version of the Marvel Matching Game, and our son loves it. Our version is Disney characters, but if your little one loves superheroes, this is the perfect travel game for your family’s next flight.
If your preschooler isn’t into superheroes (like mine), their other characters they are sure to like, such as Disney princesses, Classic Disney characters (we have this one), Toy Story, Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins, Raya, and Mickey Mouse.
It’s a great way to interact with your preschooler and for them to build skills while having fun.
We tried the game with all 72 tiles; it was a little overwhelming even for me. I recommend starting with 20 tiles and increasing the number as your little one matures.
The tiles are the perfect size for little hands, and the game helps build their memory, hand-eye coordination, and confidence.
Although the game only lasts 10-15 minutes, it’s a fun distraction while flying with a toddler or for some screen-free family fun time.
Honestly, I may need the game more than him because my memory these days is terrible. We play it during family game nights, and I am embarrassed to say he tends to beat us without us letting him win.
Coloring Book and Crayons or Make a Book
I don’t think the coloring books matters, but we always try to use coloring books with characters our son is familiar with or enjoys. They tend to keep his attention longer, so he doesn’t color for 3-minutes and say all done.
If you want to take it up a level for your preschooler, the Lulu Jr. Illustory Book Making Kit is a great option. Little ones can use their imagination to create their own book, from the story to the illustrations.
Hot Dots Let’s Learn Pre-K Reading
We’ve been digital nomads since our son was 14 months old, but he’s quickly approaching kindergarten age (which is delayed a year due to his birthday), so we are always reinforcing learning while traveling.
One of the tools we use to help our little guy stay ahead is Hot Dots Let’s Learn Pre-K Reading. This pen makes learning fun with our preschooler. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for flights, it’s a great way to keep your little one learning during road trips.
The 50-page spiral notebook includes reading readiness activities to help preschoolers with rhyming, phonics, early comprehension, and critical thinking. The electric pen provides instant feedback to help your little one gain confidence as they learn to read.
We love that he can learn in his time without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. It’s a great learning tool for the summer vacation to help your soon-to-be kindergartner learn.
Jixelz Playful Pets
My wife first found Jixelz Playful Pets when we lived in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Although it was a different brand, the building puzzles were the same. They are easy to pack for traveling with a preschooler.
We use reusable snack bags to store our son’s puzzles or LEGO pieces. They are a little expensive but well worth the price over time. We’ve had our silicone bags since we started traveling in 2020, and they’re still going strong.
The jigsaw pieces fit perfectly to make whatever your little one can imagine. There is a picture for your little one to follow to create the pets, or they can make their own creations.
These puzzles are inexpensive alternatives to LEGOS and come with over 700 pieces, so they can lose some along the way and still enjoy building.
5-Minute Stories are perfect for little ones learning how to read. It’s a screen-free way to entertain your little ones on short flights.
Although books don’t seem fun, they are a great way to interact with our kids while traveling. Traveling with our little guy is more fun when we have things to do together.
Since these stories aren’t long, you can keep your little one’s attention. The character includes Paw Patrol, Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Train, and Moana.
You are bound to find something your little one will love.
Check out our other travel toy and activity guides:
- The 25 Best Travel Toys for Babies
- 20 Toys to Keep Toddlers Busy on an Airplane
- 25 Beach Toys for Toddlers
- Our Favorite Travel Toys for 3-Year-Olds
- 15 Travel Games for Toddlers
- 20 Fun Travel Toys for 4-Year-Olds
- Our Favorite Headphones for Toddlers
- 20 Screen-Free Road Trip Toys for Toddlers
- 10 Mess-Free Travel Activities for 2-Year-Olds
- 50 Road Trip Activities for Toddlers
- LeapFrog Tablets for Toddlers to Promote Learning
- 20 Educational Travel Toys for 5-Year-Olds
- 15 Fun Airplane Activities for Toddlers
- The Best Learning Tablets for Toddlers
- 20 Snow Toys for Toddlers and Big Kids