Vacation travel bag ideas by age

When we went on our recent trip to Orlando, I posted pics on the Facebook Page throughout the trip and many people told me they thought it was cute that my big kids still liked having me pack a travel bag to keep them busy en route.

The truth is that I did these bags when they were little and then stopped once they got older because I figured they could handle keeping themselves busy. They could but....they really missed having me surprise them on each trip.

Here are some ideas by age group that you might like to help keep your kids busy while traveling...

Note: some of the links below send me a referral bonus if the items are purchased through the links I've posted.

Age range: 0-2 year olds

Melissa and Doug First Bead Maze
A miniature version of the bead mazes often seen in doctors offices or preschools.


Price: $13.90
Buy it on Amazon

B. Hug Links
Little ones always have fun putting links together. Each link works well as a teether. Just a little warning that there is a slight rattle to the pieces.


Price: $15.30
Buy it on Amazon

Compact mirror
Little ones love mirrors. This is the one I have in my purse and it doesn't seem like it would break very easily.


Price: $6.49 for 2
Buy it on Amazon


Age range: 3-4 year olds

Melissa and Doug Caterpillar Gear Toy
Just about anything from Melissa and Doug is awesome. I really like this gear toy for little ones to see how they all work together.


Price: $8.55
Buy it on Amazon

Highlights High Five 6-Pack of Jigsaw Puzzles with Activity Book
Highlights magazine is well-known for school-aged kids but Highlights High Five is for preschoolers. This pack has jigsaw puzzles with an activity book.


Price: $21.95
Buy it on Amazon

Set of 6 extra large play silks
Pick any 6 colors you want. These are much more affordable on Etsy than anywhere else I've seen. Use play silks for dress-up, to create little tents at your seat, whatever you want.


Price: $29.95
Buy it on Etsy

Travel AquaDoodle
No-mess, super portable, never runs out of "ink" since you just add water.


Price: $19.99
Buy it on Amazon

Cheerios and floss necklaces
Bring along Cheerios or other ring-shaped cereal or candy and make necklaces with floss...and then eat it!


My Big Book of Everything
This is an old book that was published over 10 years ago but you can still buy used copies online. It's a huge book with over 800 photos of....everything. 5 star ratings on Amazon and


Price: $1.99 (used but good condition)
Buy it on

Lauri Toys Shape and Color Sorter
A colorful toy to keep kids busy and, best of all, it's quiet.


Price: $9.80
Buy it on Amazon

Dot markers (6 pack)
A spill-proof, mess-free, quick-drying and colorful way to paint.


Price: $14.99
Buy it on Amazon

Pipe cleaners
So many possibilities with pipe cleaners (my daughter has never stopped loving them, actually) - necklaces, create buildings, characters, etc.


Price: $14.46 for 1000 (cheapest I've seen)
Buy it on Amazon

Melissa and Doug Make-A-Face Sticker Pad
Sticker book with 20 faces and over 250 stickers to customize them.


Price: $4.86
Buy it on Amazon

Post-It Notes
Strong enough to stick to things but easy to remove.


Price: $6.59 for a 6 pack
Buy it on Amazon

Blue painter's tape
Seem like a weird suggestion? can use it for a lot of things: tear off pieces to stick to things and remove easily, create tracks to race cars through, make a tic-tac-toe board, outline a hop scotch court, cover outlets in your hotel room, etc.

The blue style (made by Scotch) is better than others because it has the right amount of stickiness and is a fun color compared to other brands.


Price: $4.49 for 60 yards
Buy it on Amazon


5-8 year olds

Color Wonder coloring books
Special ink used in Color Wonder products make it mess-free and great for traveling.


Price: $5.67
Buy it on Amazon

Doodlepedia books
Interactive workbooks that include coloring, designing, drawing, fun facts and activities.


Price: $10-12
Buy it on Amazon

Magnetic tile sets
Combine magnetic pieces to form lots of 2D and 3D shapes. Lots of different sizes of sets available, all 5 star reviews on Amazon.


Price: starting at $10
Buy it on Amazon

Melissa and Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons
I love just about anything from the Melissa and Doug brand. This set of 10 jumbo crayons is triangular-shaped which means they won't roll. Comes with a flip-top case.


Price: $6.89
Buy it on Amazon

DIY bag of dress-up items
Gather some items from home - old necklaces, scarves, bracelets, sunglasses - and put together a bag that you can use to play while traveling.

Tales2Go is an audiobook service for kids. Audio is available on Apple devices and desktops.

Why Tales2Go

Why Tales2Go

Price: $29.99 for 3 months
Buy on

Kidzsacks are color-your-own drawstring backpacks. Several designs available.


Price: $15-20
Buy it on Amazon


9-12 year olds

Family Road Trip Box Of Questions
Dozens of conversation starters to help you pass the time on your road trip. The topics are better suited to older kids than younger ones.


Price: $9.99
Buy it on Amazon

Tear up this book!
This book was created by American Girl and the cover pretty much says it all: "the sticker, stencil, stationery, games, crafts, doodle and journal book for girls!"


Price: $9.85
Buy it on Amazon

Encyclopedia of Immaturity by Klutz
My son (and all of Amazon) loves this book. Super fun, super interesting and keeps kids busy for hours. There are actually 2 editions of this book (version 1 and 2) so if you like it, you can get the second for a later date.


Price: $17.77
Buy it on Amazon

Klutz activity books
I'm pretty sure we've owned 90% of all Klutz books ever made. Pick ones that match your child(ren)'s interests. Just be careful not to get ones with lots of small parts that could get lost while you travel.


Price: $10-20
Buy it on Amazon

Electronic 20 questions game
If you've never played this game, you should. It's freaky how it figures out what you're thinking of and this version is even better. Just be sure to turn the sound off so you don't bother people sitting nearby.


Price: $17.95
Buy it on Amazon



Ted Talks on DVD
Does your family watch Ted Talks like ours does? You can go online and pick up to 6 talks to have burned to a DVD and mailed to you (and you can give each DVD a title of your choosing). I surprised our kids on a really long road trip and had a DVD created for each of them based on their interests. They loved it.


Price: $9.99
Buy it on

Yes & Know Invisible Ink Books
These invisible ink books contain lots of games and puzzles that are suitable for older kids or adults to solve.


Price: $7-10
Buy it on Amazon

Old shows on DVD or iTunes
Did your teen recently become a fan of a syndicated sitcom that aired years ago? Buy them a season on DVD or iTunes to watch while you travel.


iTunes gift cards
Let the kids pick out some new apps or music to listen to through the trip.


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