If you've ever taken a road trip with kids in tow, you probably already know just how rocky the ride can get. Once the initial excitement wears off, each passing mile seems to be peppered with sibling spats, tearful tantrums, and constant questions. But while family road trips are rarely a walk in the park, they certainly don't have to be a gut-wrenching rollercoaster ride, either. With road trips still being the most popular way for vacationing families to get from point A to point B, there's more kid-friendly travel gear on the market than ever before. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite road trip must-haves to help make your ride as smooth as possible
Staying put for hours on end doesn't exactly come naturally to kids, but by rotating a handful of fun activities, you'll be able to banish backseat boredom and prevent – or at least delay – frustration-induced meltdowns. Some of our favorite road trip entertainment essentials include:
Travel games. Traditional road trip games like I-Spy and Travel Bingo provide the perfect opportunity for family bonding and can also help get kids interested in their surroundings.
Our pick: If you want a game that the whole family can enjoy, look no further than the Briar Patch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game. With illustrated cards depicting both simple and more complex items to search for, children of all ages can join in.
Drawing/coloring supplies. Drawing and coloring can be a great pastime for kids on the move. However, if you have a toddler on board, you might want to limit the number of things that can be scattered, dropped, or flung.
Our pick: When it comes to entertaining tots in transit, we reach for the Melissa and Doug on the go Water Wow! reusable coloring and activity pads. With a mess-free water pen and sturdy reusable pages that clear upon drying, little ones can enjoy them over and over again.
A travel tray. Having a flat surface to play, draw, and eat on can make all the difference. After all, cars have to be pushed along on something, dolls need to sit somewhere, Lego structures require a good foundation to stand on, and any budding artist worth their weight in M&Ms needs a stable surface to create their next masterpiece.
Our pick: For kids under the age of five, we recommend the DMoose Toddler Travel Tray. With high walls, a waterproof surface, and rugged build, this travel tray is set to handle anything little ones can throw at it. For older kids in booster seats, the clear tablet holder and added freedom offered by the Kids Car Caddy travel tray will earn more appreciation.
As much as you might strive to limit screen time at home, you’ll soon come to realize that road trips are a different ball game, altogether. When the kids have played as many travel games as they can stomach and your nerves are starting to feel a little frayed, go right ahead and toss those home gadget rules out the window – and be sure to send any guilt packing along with them. A little tech-time might just keep things from going south. These are our go-to gadgets for road tripping with tikes:
A kids’ tablet. Few things manage to hold a child’s attention like a tablet. And it certainly isn’t hard to understand why. With a selection of games, movies, and apps at their fingertips, most kids will happily swipe, tap, type, or watch while the world passes them by.
A portable DVD player: Being able to watch well-loved movies or TV shows on the road can be a great comfort to little ones and, combined with the rhythmic motion of a car, a bit of familiar viewing might even help them drift off.
Our pick: The DBPOWER 9.5 Inch Portable DVD Player comes at an affordable price, offers both a USB port and an SD card slot for multimedia viewing, and will fit most backseat tablet holders with ease.
Headphones. A good set of kids’ headphones serves the dual purpose of saving everyone else in the car from having to listen to whatever your child is plugged into while keeping them from being distracted by background noise.
Our pick: Designed with kids in mind, the LilGadgets Connect+ headphones are volume limited for safer listening and come with a SharePort so that little ones can easily tune into whatever their siblings are listening to.
Family road trips can be rough on your car's interior. Empty wrappers, tipped over juice bottles, and mountains of toys are just a handful of items you're likely to find strewn over your car's seats and floor at any given moment of your journey. Keeping things neat and tidy will help save your upholstery from leaks and stains, and can work wonders for your frame of mind as well. When travelling with kids, having the following products in the car will help tame the clutter:
A backseat car organizer. By providing a dedicated spot for popular kid-essentials like toys, knick knacks, stationery, drinks, and gadgets, backseat car organizers make it easier for children to find their own stuff while minimizing mess at the same time.
Our pick: With ample storage space, a sizable tablet compartment, and two insulated drink holders, the DMoose Backseat Car Organizer comes fully equipped to handle both road trips and everyday commutes.
A car trash can. Between meals, snacks, and drinks, kids can generate a substantial amount of trash over the course of a road trip. A car trash can will help keep a lid on litter.
Our pick: When the backseat is fully occupied, having a hanging trash can situated near someone's face is far from ideal. With a weighted bottom that rests firmly on the floor, a lid to keep trash contained, and a leak-proof lining, the High Road TrashStand will keep your car clean and your passengers happy all the way to your destination and back.