Tis’ the season for holiday travel. If you’re headed out on a road trip to see the grandparents with kids in tow, you know there is a fine line between a harmonious family drive and complete, inescapable chaos. The best accessories for traveling with kids are the ones that keep everyone happy and entertained. A truly memorable family road trip is a combination of packing the right items as well as a few other travel hacks that every parent should know.
The first rule of traveling with kids is to be as prepared as possible. Some items are age dependent, but there are a few must haves for any journey. For one thing, you can expect a mess. Crumbs, spills, discarded potato chip bags and almost anything else you can or cannot imagine.
Baby wipes are great for cleaning hands and gadgets and vehicle surfaces, even if there are no babies on board. Sealable baggies are helpful to have on hand for containing trash and anything with unwanted odors, but also for organizing games with small pieces, snacks and all that electronics-related gear. They pack up small, so grab a bunch. One great way to get kids involved and excited about the trip is to give them special travel backpacks that (if they’re old enough) they can pack with games and activities of their choosing. Also, don’t forget pillows; basically anything that makes sleeping easier is a must.
Today, the best accessories for traveling with kids are, of course, tablets. This one lightweight device takes the place of DVD players, books, drawing surfaces and iPods. To get the most out of a tablet, invest in a pair of headphone splitters so kids can watch what they want together without you having to endure it for the millionth time.
One great travel hack turns tablets into seat-mounted mini-theaters: slip an elastic band or tie a tie around the front seat headrest. Using a tablet case with the cover flap bent backwards, slip the cover between band and seat. Voila, seat back monitors! Some vehicles come standard with Wi-Fi, but if yours doesn’t, you can install a hot spot for internet browsing (remember to set parental controls on the devices before leaving). Lastly, don’t forget to bring car chargers for all your devices and an extra portable one just in case.
If you’ve got a particularly long ride ahead, plan stops along the way. This will give everyone a chance to go to the bathroom, stretch their legs and maybe indulge a few curiosities with classic road trip stops.
Document the ride and build excitement for the trip by snapping photos of your activities throughout your journey. You can easily get the kids involved by making one or all of your kiddies family road trip historian, giving them their own camera to capture all the fun.
If all goes smoothly, family car rides are a good opportunity for bonding and spending actual quality time together. The right accessories and proper planning can make it a genuinely enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the best accessories for traveling with kids, including wifi and bluetooth installation, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Freeimages
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.