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.

beadmaze - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

bhuglinks - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

compactmirror - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

melissaanddougcaterpillar 600x259 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

highlightshighfive - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

playsilks - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

Price: $29.95
Buy it on Etsy

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

aquadoodle - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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!

cheeriosnecklace 600x450 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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

mybigbookofeverything1 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

laurishapesorter 600x372 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

Price: $9.80
Buy it on Amazon

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

dotmarkers - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

pipecleaners 600x361 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

makeaface 507x600 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

Price: $4.86
Buy it on Amazon

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

postitnotes 532x600 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

bluepainterstape - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

colorwonder2 510x600 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

Price: $5.67
Buy it on Amazon

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

doodlepedia - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

magnetictiles 600x400 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

triangularcrayons 600x600 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

dressup - Vacation travel bag ideas by age
Tales2Go is an audiobook service for kids. Audio is available on Apple devices and desktops.

325229361 640 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

Why Tales2Go

Price: $29.99 for 3 months
Buy on

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

kidzsack 600x400 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

roadtripquestions 596x600 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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!"

tearupthisbook - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

encyclopediaofimmaturity - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

klutzbooks - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

20q - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

tedtalks 600x569 - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

yesandknow - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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.

friends - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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

itunes - Vacation travel bag ideas by age

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What do you use to put all of the items in? I am making my girls a little pack of stuff that you have suggested and having a harder time figuring out what to put it in to give to them so that they have everything in one place for their carryon on the plane.

Shannon Thomas

20 Questions is SUCH a fun game; we have one from when I was a kid, and my sister found a Disney version at a used children’s store! My niece is obsessed with this game, and we are definitely taking it on our road trip to Disney in May. : ) Awesome ideas here Shannon, thank you!


For book-loving kids the latest book in the series is always really nice.


Just a tip for driving–I usually pack colored pencils or markers for my girls because crayons and the hot Florida sunshine can make for a very melty mess! Found this one out the hard way.

Thanks for the reminder that even the older kids like travel suprises. We are driving to Disney in May. I’m starting my list! Don’t forget madlibs! My 11 and 13 yr olds still love those! Also, the travel games like yahtzee and farkle are perfect for that age.



Thanks for the great ideas for older kids. My kids will be 10 & 12 when we travel, and I am definitely going to get some of these suggestions before we leave.


Great ideas Shannon! I did trip packs for my nieces/nephews when they were little, but have not done them once they got older. I remember having as much fun making the kits as the kids did opening them! One twist we used for long road trips – all the items were wrapped and the kids could open 1 per hour (or half hour for shorter trips). Each item had a hint attached such as “open in the sunlight” for a pair of sunglasses or “open for a sweet treat” for a snack bag of cookies. The younger kids got help… Read more »


I’ve had a lot of success with origami. Also colored index cards together with basic art supplies (e.g., markers, stickers).


I’ve been hitting up Walmart and the Dollar Store in preparation for our Disney trip in October. My boys will be 5 and 1/2 and nearly 4 when we go and so far I’ve collected a multipack of 30 piece puzzles, 4 activity packs that come with a mini coloring book, crayons, and stickers (all Disney themed), a cheap bingo game, and mini magna doodles for both of them. Plus, my mom made them each a “car wallet” that holds a few matchbox cars and unfolds to have a little street for the cars to drive on. Plus, we’re flying… Read more »


When I travel, I usually bring along envelopes and notecards and stamps with gel pens or markers to write my friends letters while I’m on the plane! That way, I’m entertained and my friends and family have something to look forward too aside from the typical “make sure you bring me back a souvineer”


These are great ideas! I only wish this post had been up a few weeks ago. We leave 1 week from today. Maybe I can convince my dear husband to let me buy just a couple more things….


My girls (ages 6 & 3) love Usbourne books, specifically the sticker activity books. They have a TON of “paper doll” sticker books in a bunch of different themes…ballerinas, princesses, movie stars, travel, dream jobs, etc. (
They also have a travel activity book that my 6YO loves (

Suzanne Weaver

Great ideas for “travel” bags!!! Thanks for sharing the creative, interesting, & fun activities – lots of choices & variety of things to do to pass the travel time.


Great ideas again Shannon!
Congrats on the career move.


When we travel to Disney, I give my kids Disney pez dispensers with candy. It is the only time that they have those. Also, I love these books We don’t write in ours so that we can reuse them. They keep the kids busy for hours.

Angela from Ohio

Travel bags are a must. I have seen several toddlers melt down on airplanes because they couldn’t watch their DVD as soon as they boarded. Please parents pack some activity books to do while the airplane loads. My kids love Melissa & Doug create a face and other sticker books. Local teacher stores also have many educational and fun toys.



I just have to say that I normally pack stuff for myself too when I fly. I know it sounds funny but I love the invisible ink/magic pen books. I usually end up getting a Disney one you can color.

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