“Are we there yet?” We all know the dreaded question that kids love to ask when they’re on a long car ride. The next time you find yourself on a road trip, you’ll probably want to enjoy the scenery and listen to family conversations rather than soothing the child complaining in the backseat. Car trays make this easier for everyone, giving your child a way to amuse themselves and the parents some peace of mind.
- How to Choose the Right Travel Tray
- Features to Consider for Travel Trays
- Top 10 Best Car Seat Travel Trays 2021
- 1. Best Overall Tray: Ecofantasy Kids Car Seat Tray
- 2. Best Premium Tray: Funtasit Kids Travel Tray
- 3. Best Budget Tray: Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray
- 4. Best Hybrid Tray: Organized Empire Travel Tray
- 5. Best Tray for Girls: Tomser Kids Pink Travel Tray
- 6. Most Comfortable Travel Tray: EcoZen Lifestyle Travel Tray
- 7. Best Tray for Boys: Tomser Kids Blue Travel Tray
- 8. Best Secured Tray: DMoose Kids Travel Tray
- 9. Most Stylish Travel Trays: Kenley Kids Travel Tray
- 10. Best Travel Tray for Toy Cars: Coolmum Kids Travel Tray
- Guide to Picking the Perfect Travel Tray
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose the Right Travel Tray
We all know how much our little ones might whine when we’re on the road, so getting them a travel tray and some toys can easily keep them busy. Below, we’ll cover the main features to consider before choosing a car seat tray for your child to play with. If you want to read a more in-depth guide to travel trays, you can look here.
Types of Travel Trays
There are three main types of trays, depending on how they’re set up and used. We’ll list them starting from the sturdiest types!
Secured Travel Trays
Secured trays physically attach to the car seat and strap on tightly, making sure they won’t budge no matter how sharp your turns get. They’re suitable for younger children who may not be able to hold trays steady. However, they also take the most amount of time for parents to set up, and can’t really be used outside of the car.
Hybrid Travel Trays
Hybrid trays often come in two pieces, with a top portion and a lap portion. The top hangs from the car seat in front of the child for you to hang up screens or a laptop. The lap part is placed over their legs so they have a flat surface for coloring or playing with other toys. They’re not as secure as the former option, but they’re a solid choice if you need to set up a screen.
Lap Desk Travel Trays
These travel trays only need to be laid over a child’s lap before they use them. They often have pockets on the side to hold pencils and other supplies, and the flat surface provides a place for them to have fun. As they’re not tied down to the car seat, they can be used in many different situations. However, since they’re not secured, they’re more suitable for older children.
Features to Consider for Travel Trays
When it comes to travel trays, picking the best one means more fun for your child and less concern for parents. It’s a win-win! Below, we’ll talk about the most important features to consider so that you can choose a travel tray perfectly tailored to your little one’s needs.
Age and Security
The most important thing is your child’s safety. While lap trays are the easiest to use, they’re also more difficult to keep stable when compared to the secured trays. Younger children will be safer with trays that directly strap to the car seat, while older children may enjoy the freedom that a lap tray offers them.
Depending on what activities your child enjoys, you may want to pick different trays. For example, artistic kids will definitely want a car seat travel tray that has space for all their pencils and crayons. Kids who enjoy toys and blocks will want a large surface to play on, while kids who like watching cartoons may want a tray that can display a screen.
Some travel trays, such as the lap tray, are more versatile than others. If you plan on using the tray for more than just in the car, you may want to consider purchasing an option that doesn’t directly strap onto the car seat. However, make sure you pick a tray that your child is old enough to properly use!
The biggest thing when it comes to trays is the fun and creativity they offer! Pick a tray that your child enjoys, and make sure it has enough features to keep them entertained on your long car trips. It might only be an hour-long drive, but for a child, that can feel like forever!
Style and Design
While this criterion isn’t as important, different trays also come in different designs and colors. If your child has a favorite color, you can see if the available trays come in that style. If a tray comes in multiple colors, you can even ask them to pick one out!
Travel trays can become a staple accessory for any car trip. Now that we’ve covered the biggest features in travel trays, it’s time for us to look at our top choices!
Top 10 Best Car Seat Travel Trays 2021
- Type: Secured
- Size: 17 x 12.5 inches
- Designs: Pink and purple, orange and gray
The Ecofantasy travel tray comes in two styles, so you’ll have one that suits your child perfectly! The base displays a US map for them to get a jumpstart on learning their states. On the sides, it’s surrounded by mesh pockets, a cup holder, and adequate storage space for your child to put their toys. The buckle is heavy-duty and suited for both cars and strollers as well.
This travel tray comes with 2 activity sheets and 4 markers to keep your child entertained. In addition, a scannable QR code allows you to access 20 more sheets for them to trace on. These sheets can be inserted under the clear screen at the base of the tray, and your little one can doodle on it with markers before erasing!
The travel tray works with car seats and booster seats and is made with non-toxic materials. All surfaces are waterproof for you to easily wipe them off, though the bottom clear surface may bubble sometimes. Unfortunately, the tablet holder may be too large for smaller tablets, so you’ll have to use rubber bands to secure them. However, it does come with a lifetime guarantee to make this purchase risk-free!
- Includes activity sheets and markers
- The clear bottom is erasable when written on with markers
- QR code gets you access to 20 activity sheets
- Lifetime guarantee for a risk-free purchase
- The base has US states and capitals drawn on
- The base tends to bubble up sometimes
- Tablet holder may be too larger for smaller tablets
- Type: Hybrid
- Size:3 x 12.9 inches
- Designs: Light and dark pink
The Funtasit kid’s tray comes with a detachable top that hangs from the backseat and a lap portion of the desk. This travel tray comes with every feature you’ll need, from a dry erase work tray to extra pockets on the top and sides! It’s colorful and fun, and the only downside so far is that it only comes in pink.
Just like the Ecofantasy car tray, the bottom of this travel tray also has a transparent cover that can be drawn on with dry-erase markers. The soft walls rise slightly above the edges to keep all the markers in, and the extra-large organizers are perfect for books and coloring books! It also comes with a glow in the dark silicone bracelet.
The first thing to notice is that the cup holder is built into the top of the tray rather than on the sides. This helps it distribute the weight more evenly over the lap. The tablet fits on the detachable top part that hangs over the seat so your child won’t have to hold it! The closures are also done with snaps instead of Velcro so that they can last longer.
In addition, the storage capacity of this travel tray is increased by the additional bottom storage area and regular storage areas. The material is 420D fabric that’s designed to be heavy-duty, and the tray is sturdy and thick. It also zips up once you’re done using it, and the handle makes it easy for you to carry.
- Has expanded storage system to hold everything you need
- Comes with glow-in-the-dark bracelet
- Transparent cover can be written on with dry-erase markers
- Closures are made of snaps rather than Velcro
- Zips up into a small bag to make it easy to carry
- Only comes in shades of pink
- Slightly more expensive than some other options
- Type: Secured
- Size: 16 x 12.5 inches
- Designs: Black
Car trays can get expensive if you’re not careful, but the Lusso Gear choice balances price with quality. It has many of the main features you might want, such as a dry-erase surface and mesh holders for pens. In addition, it’s more affordable than some of the more decked out options such as the Funtasit travel tray.
The Lusso Gear comes with a large, flat area for your child to play with and a dry erase board at the bottom. This bottom is a real dry erase board rather than clear plastic over the bottom, though this means that the tray doesn’t have any special patterns. It also has a detachable tablet viewing stand, and the sturdy walls are sure to keep your child’s toys from falling!
The storage area is not as developed as other trays, though it does have small holders for pens and markers. In addition, there is also a detachable cup holder on the right corner, though it is square and not as secure as the holder in the Funtasit tray. Unfortunately, the only color that it comes in is black, although this color is gender-neutral. However, the entire tray does fold flat for easy storage after use!
- Includes pen holders and storage compartments
- Collapsible design is meant to fold flat for easy storage
- Some storage areas are detachable
- Comes with a real dry-erase board at the bottom
- Suitable for boys and girls
- Only comes in black
- The cup holder is not as secure
- No fun patterns at the bottom of this travel tray
- Type: Hybrid
- Size:5 x 12.1 inches
- Designs: Purple, blue, and gray
The Organized Empire travel tray offers four functionalities in one, making it one of the more versatile options. It comes in a gender-neutral option of blue, purple, and gray, and the entire desk folds into a simple carry bag when you’re done using it. The top and bottom detach from each other to make the tablet holder more secure, and the zippers are easy to use for packing and unpacking.
With a zippered pencil case, mesh pockets, and a special sippy cup holder, your child is sure to have everything they need to stay happy right in front of them. There are pockets on both parts of this travel tray, and the zippered pencil pouch is not included in many other tray designs. However, the mesh bags on the two sides are lacking.
The foam used is high-quality, and specially designed to be stain-resistant and odorless. However, the material used is nylon, and won’t be as durable as the cover used for the Funtasit Kids Travel Tray as it’s not made of 420D fabric. It’s also a little trickier to set up since you have to hang up part of the tray. But if you’re looking for a hybrid tray that’s more gender-neutral, this is the best option for you!
- Gender-neutral hybrid tray
- Four in one uses makes it versatile
- Includes a zippered pencil pouch
- Folds up into a portable carry bag
- Foam inserts are odor and stain resistant
- Fabric is not as durable as other travel trays
- Takes a long time to set up in the car
- Nylon may rip more easily than 420D fabric
- Type: Lap
- Size: 75 X 12.6 inches
- Designs: Pink with colorful letters
The Tomser kids travel tray comes in a light shade of pink with enough activity pages to keep them entertained for a while! While it doesn’t have the security strap that secured travel trays offer, the board is heavy enough to make sure it doesn’t easily fall. It’s created with environmentally friendly PVC that’s 100% safe for your child.
The main highlight of this travel tray is the board at the bottom. It’s dry-erase so that your child can write on it, and the tray even includes six different colored markers for your child to use. The tray also comes with five drawing papers to keep them entertained. You can also find the Tomser blue travel tray for boys here.
This tray comes with 14 mesh pockets and two zipper pockets to make sure your child can hold all of their toys and activities. The letters activity sheet is usable on the tray and can help your child get a jump start on their education. The walls are also reinforced to be extra strong. However, the tablet holder does not have a plastic covering and is not as secure as other holders, so be extra cautious on bumpy trips!
- Includes letters at the bottom of the travel tray
- Comes with six board markers
- Includes five drawing papers to keep your child entertained
- Has 14 mesh pockets and 2 zippered pockets
- The tablet holder is not as secure as other holders
- Does not offer a security strap
- Type: Lap
- Size: 5 x 11 inches
- Designs: Blue with colorful dinosaurs
The EcoZen Lifestyle Travel Tray is one of the softer lap trays to make sure your child stays comfortable on long rides. It has mesh pockets, a high wall to keep crumbs from falling, and is colorful enough to keep your child entertained. In addition, it also has a tablet holder to hold smaller tablets in place (though it may not fit larger tablets).
The colorful dinosaurs at the bottom of the tray are sure to keep your child entertained, especially if they’re interested in dinosaurs and enjoy the scene. The side and front pockets are easy to reach, and the flexible base makes sure that it’s secure and also comfortable to use.
One thing you’ll notice is that this lap desk is basic, and doesn’t include a whiteboard like the Lusso car tray. In addition, the tablet holder is also rudimentary and tends to fit smaller sizes rather than larger sizes. However, the soft flaps and overall design of the tray makes it perfect for long car trips without worrying about your child feeling uncomfortable.
- The soft base remains comfortable for long car trips
- Dinosaur design can keep your child’s interest piqued
- Soft flaps keep toys in place without hurting your child
- The tablet holder can safely secure smaller tablets
- Does not have a whiteboard in the base
- The tablet holder is not suitable for larger tablets
- Type: Lap
- Size: 75 X 12.6 inches
- Designs: Blue with a space design
The Tomser blue travel tray is perfect for boys and works as the counterpart to the Tomser Pink Travel Tray. It’s made with the same high quality 100% PVC material, and the tray is soft and flexible on the lap rather than being a stiff board.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the bottom of this tray is not a dry erase board like its pink counterpart, to keep the tray softer and more comfortable over extended periods of use. However, the tray does come with a reusable animal artboard and dry-erase pen which can be used for the same purpose! However, this whiteboard is smaller than the ones that cover the entire bottom of the tray.
In addition to including the artboard and pen, it also comes with a travel bag so that you can safely bring the tray with you anywhere. The entire artboard and tray are also waterproof, and you’ll be able to clean it by simply wiping it down. The tray itself includes 10 mesh pockets, 1 zipper pocket, and 1 cup pocket. However, the cup pocket is on the side and may result in more weight on one side.
- Comes with a reusable artboard
- Includes dry-erase pen that fits into the artboard
- The tray itself is soft and flexible to be more comfortable
- Space design is engaging and fun
- Whiteboard is small
- Side cup pocket may lead to unbalancing the tray
- Type: Secured
- Size:5 x 12.5 inches
- Designs: Black, gray, and pink designs
The DMoose travel tray is one of the most secure and safe options for younger children who may not be able to keep a tray steady on their own. With versatile side walls and robust buckles, it locks in place and won’t budge until you get to your final location, so your child will be able to play in peace!
First, this is one of the few travel trays that comes in three different pattern choices, so your child will be able to pick one that they like the most. It also comes with foldable side walls that can be let down for extra play space and a sturdy tablet holder for them to watch television. Just keep in mind that this tray does not have a whiteboard component unlike the Funtasit travel tray and others.
Since this tray is so secure with sturdy buckles, it will take longer for you to set up as the parent. However, once everything is in place, the wool padded base makes sure your child is comfortable when they play and have their snack time. In addition, the tray has a TPU coating that absorbs many liquids and spills to keep large messes from happening!
- One of the most secured travel trays
- The tray has a TPU coating to help it absorb spills
- Foldable side walls for more space
- Strong and robust buckles keep your child in place
- Does not have a whiteboard component
- Requires more setup from the parents
- Type: Secured
- Size:5 x 13.5 inches
- Designs: Red, pink, and blue with gray accents
The Kenley Kids Travel Tray comes in three different geometric patterns, ranging from rectangles, circles, triangles and polygons. Each tray is accented with bright colors, and the muted shades make them suited for all children. Your little one may even be able to pick out their own favorite style!
With a tablet holder, so many pockets, and fun designs all over, this tray is one way to keep your little one entertained on the trip. It’s also one of the only trays to come with two cup holders, in case your child likes their juice and water to be within hands reach. It also includes a removable and collapsible storage unit and two zippered pockets, so they’ll really have room for all their toys!
With impressive 4-inche tall side walls, this travel tray keeps everything contained. The only downside is that it doesn’t include a whiteboard for your child to draw with unlike the Funtasit travel tray and others.
However, it does come with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll know that you’ve found the perfect durable tray. Unfortunately, the material does not absorb spills well either, so it may be dangerous with all the sippy cups on the tray. The tablet holder also only covers the bottom of the tablet, so it’s not as secure.
- Comes in three different geometric designs
- Includes two cup holders
- Has a collapsible and removable storage unit
- Includes a lifetime warranty
- Does not have a whiteboard component
- Is not good at absorbing spills
- The tablet holder is not as secure
- Type: Secured
- Size: 17 x 13 inches
- Designs: Blue with road and town designs
The Coolmum Kids Travel Tray comes with roads and a city patterned at the bottom, perfect for kids who love playing with their toy cars. The high-quality material is soft, and walls rise several inches to keep toys from falling over. The tray also has a sheriff’s star icon to add to the fun!
With a patterned road design at the bottom, this is perfect for kids who like driving their toy cars and trains around. They’ll be able to move around the large lap area, and the tablet holder can provide extra entertainment for them. The tray does also come in pink, though the pink one does not have a road design.
Unfortunately, while the design is whimsical and fun, the storage area and other technical features are lacking. It doesn’t have as many pockets as the Kenley Kids tray and doesn’t come with a whiteboard component. The tablet holder also only covers the bottom half and is not as secure.
- Whimsical road and town bottom is perfect for toy cars
- High-quality material is soft and comfortable
- Walls are high enough to keep toys safe
- Travel tray includes a small sheriff's star design
- Does not have as much storage space
- Does not include a whiteboard
- The tablet holder is not as secure
Guide to Picking the Perfect Travel Tray
When it comes to travel trays, the right one can mean the difference between continuous complaints and peaceful relaxation. You’ll want to pick the right tray that suits your child’s needs and wants, especially since it means keeping them entertained for long stretches of time.
Below, we’ll get into the details of travel trays so that you can make an informed choice when picking out the right option for your child. We’ll start with a small list of benefits, before getting into more features and tips for travel trays. If you want a shorter list with the most important features, you can find one here.
Benefits of Travel Trays
When it comes to travel trays, there are many reasons why they can be beneficial. Below, we’ll cover the biggest highlights that they bring besides just keeping your child busy.
Use Them for Food
Car trays can work as the perfect feeding table, especially if they have cup holders. You can put sippy cups in the trays, or add some snacks on the surface if they get hungry. You’ll be able to seamlessly integrate snack time between play sessions, making the car trip much more productive.
When your child has their own entertainment area, they’ll be more likely to leave you alone. Some seats have multiple pockets and storage spaces, so you can even keep tablets and phones on the side for a quick set-up when they want to watch a cartoon.
Organization and Storage Space
Most car seats have mesh storage areas on the side, so it’s a quick way for you to sort out all those LEGO pieces from crayons! It’s an easier clean-up for you and your child – not to mention more fun.
Extra Car Seat Travel Tray Considerations
If you want to know every detail about car travel trays, you’re in the right place. We’ll get even more detailed with all the small details in these trays so you’ll know exactly what to look for.
While most trays are compatible with most car seats, you may want to double-check before making that expensive purchase. Some trays may be more suited for older kids and larger car seats, while others can only attach to smaller seats. You can get a basic measurement of your car seat before checking the details of the trays.
If you’ve spent any time with a child, you know they’re prone to dropping their toys and leaving them strewn about. You’ll want to search for a travel tray that has enough pockets and storage areas for these toys so you won’t have to worry about blocks jammed under your car seats!
Depending on the toys they like, you may need more or less storage than you’d expect. If you want to err on the side of caution and get a travel tray with more storage, we definitely recommend the Funtasit travel tray.
Sizing and Weight
When it comes to lap and hybrid trays, they’ll be directly on your child’s lap. This weight may also be dependent on the material it’s made of. You’ll want to look for a tray that’s not too heavy for your little one, but still large enough for adequate play areas. After all, what use is a tray if your child can’t play on it?
Check to see if the travel tray folds up easily for you to transport and take. Some trays even come with zippers and can end up being quite compact once you’re done using them. Other more secure trays may have lots of attachments that make them harder to fold up once you’re done.
Our favorite travel tray that’s easily portable is the Organized Empire travel tray.
The material should be waterproof and easy to clean since your child will make quite a few messes with their trays. You may also want to look for more pliable and softer materials for younger children so they’re less likely to get hurt. However, older children who want to draw and color will appreciate a harder surface.
Sidewalls (or Lack Thereof)
Sidewalls on a travel tray can determine how stable it is. Trays with higher sidewalls are less likely to have pencils and toys spill over, so that’s less clean-up for you as well. Make sure your tray has some form of barrier, since car rides can get bumpy sometimes! The Kenley Kids tray has some of the highest side walls at 4 inches tall.
Whether you prefer cup holders or not is a personal choice. However, with more pliable materials, the cup holder may end up causing the base to sag quickly, which leads to the tray being unusable.
In addition, if the tray has a cup holder, look for ones with the holder on the side so that it exerts less pressure on your child’s legs. One of our favorite travel trays is the Kenley Kids tray which even comes with two cup holders for both water and juice!
Maintenance and Care
Ideally, your travel tray will be machine-washable so that you can clean it easily. You’ll want to wash it every week for a deep clean if it’s frequently used, or if your child gets it messy with each ride. However, if your child rarely uses the travel tray, you could deep clean it every other week, or even every three weeks.
Make sure you wipe down the tray after each use to get rid of any germs and make sure nothing grows. It’s a quick process that only takes a few seconds with a wet wipe, and you won’t have to go through all the steps of fully cleaning it (until your scheduled deep clean day).
Just be careful to not leave it dirty for too long – after all, some materials are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. If you have a polyester product, the car tray may even be durable enough to take some heavier and rougher cycles of washing!
Tips for Using a Travel Tray
- Air out the tray when it first comes to get rid of any odors
- Regularly wipe down the tray
- Schedule a time to deep clean the tray
- Find a tray that aligns with your child’s personality and needs
- Check for any straps to make sure they’re comfortable and adjustable
- Trays can sometimes be used at home on the bed or the couch
We all love our children, but they can test our patience on those long car rides. When singalongs and chatter turn into never-ending complaints, your road trip definitely takes a turn for the worse. With the right car tray, you’ll be able to keep them entertained and happy for longer, and it makes life easier for the entire family. With car trays, you and your little one can finally stop dreading those long stretches of driving!