Family Road Trip Essentials to Keep the Kids Happy
Well... at least happy more often than not. For me, just the thought of being trapped in the car with my kiddos for more than 40 minutes has me biting my nails, and this summer we are embarking on a 15 hour road trip in just a few weeks! We had a practice run with a 3 hour (each way) trip this past weekend (you might have seen some of the trip, the ups & the downs on Snapchat - follow me with username ChasingDavies), and it had me thankful for some of the items we have ready and frantically looking for and buying some things that I know we now need.
It makes it worse that my kids are harnessed into their car seats, not able to move, stretch or reach for things - but in some ways, it is probably good (besides it being safe) that they are so they can't fight and they each have their own designated spaces. I remember when I was a kid, we'd take out the middle seats of the family van, lay down a bunch of blankets and pillows, and sprawl out on the floor.
Well, gone are those days... but here are some other safe recommendations that have and will help me, and I hope they'll help you, too!
1. Universal Device Headrest Mount - We LOVE this one! Easily add on the velcro-backed case to your portable device of choice, wrap the mount around your headrest (vertical or horizontal) and easily velcro the device to the back of the headrest. I like the velcro because it's easy for me (in the front seat) to pull it off and slap it on when getting a movie set up for each kid.
2. Portable Wireless Hard Drive - This is a life saver. It holds 250+ movies that we can stream to both our kids' devices at the same time (playing different movies) for their personal enjoyment. It's also great for when arriving at various destinations and pulling up movies for night or resting periods. Now you don't have to haul your big DVD stack around anymore and works with all devices!
3. Wireless Kids Headphones - From past experience, I think wireless and a kid-friendly sized headphone is key. We've tried the opposite, and trying to keep adult sized headphones on little heads is frustrating, and my youngest gets tangled in the cord - and everything kind of annoying is amplified to super difficult when everyone is buckled in a car for longer than normal periods of time.
4. Water Paint Books & Magic Marker Color Books - These are mess free ways to color on the go! We used the water paint books when the kids were younger, and now have graduated to the magic markers! These entertained my kids for more than 30 minutes on trip (3 hour drive) to Omaha last weekend, and would have easily been a hit on a repeat after watching a movie.
6. Hand & Face Wipes - After snack or rogue coloring, and in case of any other kind of mess, stock up on these hand & face wipes! Anything to stay on the road, wipes are a must.
7. Manage Temperature - Depending on the time of day, the sun beating in can be harsh for one side of the car. One kid will be hot, while the other one is cold from the over use of air-conditioning. Create shade with window shade clings if your car windows aren't already tinted. And bring extra blankets for the shaded half!
8. Carseat Neck Pillow - I learned on this last trip that we need a neck pillow that is compatible with the carseat for both my kiddos. When they would fall asleep, their poor necks were so bent and their heads would be moving all around - not comfy! Anything to get them to sleep, and to sleep longer!
9. DIY Play Tray - One DIY I can actually do... get a baking pan with edges for each kid to use on their lap. The edges help keep smaller toys from rolling off, so this is important! Then, depending on the age and interest of your child, this is a great time to pull out things like a Lego creator set (my son!) and crayons and paper (my daughter!). You could even take it a step further and using washi tape, create a race track on a try if you have a kiddo into cars or get magnet letters to practice spelling!
10. Backseat Toy Organizer - With my kids both in carseats - they pretty much need me to do and get everything nonstop (they can't reach!). So, I am looking into a middle seat organizer like this one to help keep some of their toys, books and water in hands reach!
Do you have any tips on keeping toddler/kids entertained in a car for what will feel like FOREVER?!?!