Super Stocking Stuffers for Happy Travelers

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a "little something" for friends' kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each!

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a “little something” to give to friends’ kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each, and are favorites in our house for family travel.

And one of the best parts? There are no batteries or sounds involved! No fighting over electronics, running out of power, or driving the driver/fellow passengers nuts with noises! Meaning ALL the travelers in the vicinity will be happy, not just your kiddos!

So if your family is known for long road trips, plane trips, or train trips, give these super stocking stuffers a try.

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a "little something" for friends' kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each!

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a "little something" for friends' kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each!

Super Stocking Stuffers for Happy Travelers

1. Wikki Stix

I first learned about Wikki Stix from another parent’s blog tips on traveling with kiddos. I was skeptical, but several years later, my kids still find them enthralling. (Partly because we save them for travel use only!)

These brightly-colored, wax-coated cotton strings are infinitely bendable, twistable, and moldable. Kids can write words with them, make pictures, create sculptures, stick them to the walls, whatever. And they never wear out.

Besides being great for airplane tray tables and road-trip lap desks, I also recommend stashing some in your purse or an eating-out bag for waiting at restaurants.

2. Bendy fidgets

They go by lots of different names, but my kids LOVE playing with these things. Especially when they’re trapped on a plane.
My girls’ favorite in this category is the original Tangle Jr., which can be twisted into bracelets or necklaces as well as popped apart into shorter or longer configurations. But Wacky Tracks and the Neliblu Snakes are close seconds.

3. Classic wooden toys

A few summers ago, we visited one of those “living history” museums – a recreated 19th century village where the people dressed in costume and taught us about life long ago. When we got to the house that had a room of 19th century toys for visitors to play with, it was all I could do to get my girls to leave, after a solid 30 minutes of playing with a classic Jacob’s Ladder toy.

Several years later, they remain fascinated with this stocking-stuffer from the Christmas after that museum visit. But unlike the versions from the museum or from my own childhood, today’s Jacob’s Ladders come in a wide variety of colors and designs. And besides the classic flip-flop motion that puzzles and fascinates, you can also arrange the wooden blocks into shapes and sculptures.

Other favorite toys that they never seem to tire of include the Whatz’it Fidget Toy, the Lewo 3D Cube, and the Toysmith Wooden Fidget Puzzle.

4. Portable-sized Smart Games

If you aren’t familiar with Smart Games from my previous post about them, they’re a fabulous line of toys that teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. My girls love them, and have learned so much from playing the eight or nine that we now own.

RELATED POST: Smart Games For Your Holiday Gift List

They come in different formats, some more portable than others. But the pocket-sized “i.Q.” line of SmartGames retails for under $10 U.S., as do many of the magnetic Smart Games.

5. Card Games

Card games are a classic favorite for long days in transit, as well as rainy days at your destination. While a lot of card games are just plain fun, others can also teach kids everything from math skills to strategy and planning ahead. Some of our favorites include:

  • UNO – this classic game is just plain fun!
  • SET – a great game to learn strategy and patterns while practicing color and shape recognition.
  • 24 – a fun game that allows kids to practice their basic math skills. (OK, this one is currently an “under $11” stocking stuffer instead of “under 10,” but Kimmie’s 3rd-grade teacher said her students LOVE to play this game for fun when they finish their in-class math work early!)
  • Cribbage – our favorite standard card game that uses a wooden board for scorekeeping (shh! your kids will learn math playing this game!).

Of course, there are plenty of games you can play with a basic set of cards as well. If you’re not familiar with basic card games or want to expand your repertoire, this book is a great place to start.

6. A knot-making kit

This is my girls’ favorite “game” to take whenever we go camping, starting the moment they get into the car. While knot bandanas can be hard to find and generally run over $10, there are also how-to-tie-knots pocket guides and reference card sets. And the best string I’ve found for the girls to practice with is a pair of rope handles from one of those glossy paper shopping or gift bags. Just untie the knots on the inside of the bag and you’re good to go!

RELATED POST: Must-Haves for Family Camping

Bonus: besides the pocket knot-tying card set, the Learn’n’Live series makes lots of other educational pocket card sets as well, on everything from first aid to primitive cooking to fire-building to animal tracks – perfect for kids who love the outdoors!

7. Buglites

What kid doesn’t love a flashlight? Buglites are the perfect emergency flashlight, and a fun bendy friend rolled into one. My kids’ Buglites live on their backpacks when we’re traveling, so they are always handy. And just like Wikki Stix, they love sculpting them into different configurations. Some colors run more than $10 at times, but I’ve pretty much always been able to find at least one color for under $10.

8. Assorted S-biner clips

This is a travel accessory that’s more utilitarian than anything else, but fits great into a stocking and is SO helpful for travel. My girls each have several hanging off their backpack carryons. With them, they can clip just about anything onto the outside of their pack: their travel neck pillows, a water bottle, whatever. (Though my kids have been known to play with them, too!)

9. “Vintage” 3D hand puzzles

Confession: I grew up in the 1980s. Back then, kids didn’t have iPhones, iPods, or iPads to amuse themselves with on the (in my case, hour-long) school bus ride to and from school each day.

We had Rubik’s Cubes and a slew of other three-dimensional hand puzzles along those lines.

There’s a reason these can keep you occupied for hours on end. And I am totally in favor of any game that keeps kids’ attention for hours on end without the use of electricity OR noise!

10. Travel-sized doodlers and other magnetic toys

Have a budding artist in your midst? At 5 and 7, our girls STILL love road-tripping with their pocket Etch-a-Sketch and doodle boards as much as they did at 2 and 4. While of course you can spend more, there are versions of these toys available in the under-$10 range.

And unlike other travel options for your artistic ones, there’s no mess or need to clean up! Far as I’m concerned, that’s the best part of traveling with these toys.

What about you? What’s on YOUR list of super stocking stuffers for road warriors and frequent flyers? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. Looking for some great stocking-stuffer ideas for grownups that come in at $10 or less? Click here for some great ideas for everyone on your list!

Like these ideas on budget-friendly stocking stuffers for kids on the go? Then please share with others by pinning this image!

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a "little something" for friends' kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each!

Need some stocking-stuffer ideas for Christmas? Or a "little something" for friends' kids at the holidays? These super stocking stuffers are under $10 each! Stocking stuffer ideas | holiday gift ideas for travel | traveling with kids | roadtripping with kids | flying with kids | how to keep kids entertained while traveling | inexpensive gift ideas for kids | non-electronic gift ideas for kids

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80 thoughts on “Super Stocking Stuffers for Happy Travelers”

  1. These are definitely useful for traveling. I tend to get hung up on what to put in the stockings, and we do travel a lot, so I’ll have to get some of these.

  2. I wish I had this list last year when I had to drive 1700 miles from the Midwest to the PNW with 5 of my 6 kids! I will save this list because that trip ruined some of my kids for car trips. Maybe some of these toys will help them realize they are not so bad after all.

  3. Great ideas here! We’ve accumulated quite a few card games and travel sized games over the years. We have a tub for travel.

  4. Thanks so much for all of these fabulous ideas. I’m often at a loss when it comes to getting something fun that doesn’t cost a ton for kids. I’ve forgotten about many of these toys! I love the idea of having a restaurant bag as well.

    1. You are so welcome. And the restaurant bag is a huge help when you have littles – ours are bigger now, so many of these amusements live in the car in their back-of-seat hanging caddies instead, but they will still grab something to bring into the restaurant with then.

  5. I get so frustrated when it seems like I spend just as much money on stocking stuff than I do their regular gifts. Thanks for this list that is much more budget friendly!

  6. Pingback: Holiday Gift Ideas for Neurodiverse Children - Super Mom Hacks

    1. Haha, you’re welcome! So glad you found it useful! Getting ready to pack up a bunch of these for next week’s road trip to my mama’s πŸ™‚

    1. So glad you enjoyed the list! I couldn’t find my girls’ Rubik’s Cubes in time for this photo shoot, because they’d squirreled them away up in their rooms so they could work on them in peace and privacy! πŸ™‚

    1. I totally agree – but usually we DON’T have (or make) the time in daily life, which is why I make sure to bring these along on trips! πŸ™‚

  7. These are all fantastic ideas! And I must say card games are a great pass time when travelling for adults too: my friends and I still play them!

    1. So you noticed one of the secrets of this list, then – they’re not just for kids! πŸ˜‰ I totally agree – and that’s one of the nice benefits of the games on this list, they’re fun for grownups too! πŸ™‚

    1. Uno is one of the best travel games, as far as I’m concerned πŸ™‚ – I have a little bag that stays with my travel stuff, containing nothing but a pack of UNO cards, a regular deck of cards, and our travel cribbage board. That way we can always find them! Glad you liked the other ideas as well πŸ™‚

    1. Glad that works for you, Andrea! Doesn’t work for us, though. We tried letting them have the ipads for the first time on this past trip (5 hours’ drive to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving), and within 30 min they were fighting, having technical problems, etc. (not to mention distracting the driver). We finally had to pull over the car and take away the ipad, and then it still took them another half-hour of driving to get calmed down after the games they’d been playing. No more. When we drive home tomorrow, they’ll have their few toys and their books (we don’t take ALL of these on EVERY trip!), and that’s it – the electronics will stay in the trunk!

    1. MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY! That’s why I started my girls on Uno when they were just preschoolers – and why I taught them cribbage the summer Kimmie was 6 and Essie was 4 (so they could learn basic math)! Yes, playing cribbage with them was very slow for the first year or so because they had to count on their fingers a lot, but they’re now both way ahead of grade level in math, so it worked! πŸ™‚

    1. That’s one of the things I love about this list – a lot of the things on it are good for a loooooooong time πŸ˜‰

    1. I totally agree! I need to find a more travel-sized 3-person cribbage board than our full-sized three-person board; my girls have been spending this whole trip wanting to play just with me, not each other lol…

    1. Haha, if you mean “3 and up” by “older,” then this is true (though some of the sturdier tangles/fidgets and wooden toys are ok even for toddlers who still like to mouth things). So yes, guilty as charged – my kids are now both school-aged. BUT, as soon as they hit three, the fidgets and doodlers/Etch-a-Sketch came into play, and the card games by the time they were 4; even 3yos can play very basic card games, to help them learn number/pattern recognition if nothing else. πŸ™‚ And my kids have been obsessed with flashlights for forever, so when my eldest got her buglit at age 3 or so, she was thrilled – and she still loves it!

  8. Right off the bat you made the most important comment which is to save these toys for travel (or special occasions) only so kids are not bored of them already. You have so many good suggestions.

    1. Yup, all of them are still favorites for my kids after several years of use! (well, except for the very first Rubik’s Cube we got them, which fell apart so we had to get them two more better-quality ones, a Rubik’s Jr. and a mini-Rubik’s Cube.) (check the quality ratings before you buy!)

    1. Haha, yes, I admit I’ve become a little addicted to the Prime punch πŸ™‚ – fortunately these items should be mostly, if not all, Prime-eligible :)…

  9. I love that so many of these stocking stuffers encourage the littles to think! Such a great list. I’m saving to make my own wish list ❀️

    1. Ah, so you noticed that, huh, Jamie? πŸ˜‰ (must be the former teacher in me!) So glad you liked the list, and do have fun enjoying these toys with your kiddos when they get their hands on some of them! πŸ™‚

    1. *Thanks* Amanda – everything on it (including the few ideas I couldn’t locate the day I was taking the pictures) comes with a stamp of approval from both my girls πŸ™‚

  10. Superb ideas. Fidgets, wooden toys, card games are something I always have stuffed up when I travel with my son. They are super interesting to play and have fun.

    1. Yes! My kids are definitely prone to fidgeting, so this is a way to help keep them still in airline seats as much as anything (vs. kicking the seat in front of them or having the volume cranked up too loud on their devices, so everyone can hear it through the earplugs). But I’m NOT a fidgety person, and even I have found the Tangle Jr. surprisingly soothing and focusing to play with…

  11. Great ideas! I have to echo what you said about what you do with the Sticks, just keeping them as traveling toys. I did that when my kids were small and it made a big difference. The toys were β€œnew” every time we traveled. ?

    1. EXACTLY!!! Mine have now snuck their travel stash OUT OF the traveling stuff, and I keep finding them in random places around the house – not good πŸ™ …

  12. Its super important to keep them happy and entertained, especially including toys which are only available in the car is also a great way of keeping the peace…

    1. EXACTLY. When they were infants and toddlers, I had entire separate bags of toys that were for “car,” “diaper bag” (day out doing errands), “church,” etc. Now that they’re older, I mostly hide the plane fidgets in their carry-on backpacks, and the road trip bags that stay hung in my car get supplemented with a new pile of thrift-store, new-to-them chapter books for every road trip. πŸ™‚

  13. These are great! We live on the east coast whereas almost our entire family lives in the west coast so travel items for us are a hit! I’ll be sending this post to the grandma’s! πŸ˜‰

    1. Yup, been there done that (though we do have SOME family near us, just not all – and by “near” I mean a day’s road trip). Related, are visiting the grandparents 5 hours from our home over this holiday weekend, and several of these items have been in heavy rotation both on the ride here and now that we’re here/the girls are away from their usual toys…

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