Within the next week, many families will be venturing off on road trips to visit friends and family across the country for the holidays. As parents, we know that traveling with children is already a challenge, but when you add in holiday traffic and inclement weather, it makes hours in the car feel like days.
Thankfully, technology has come a long way since we were kids, and there’s more gadgets and gizmos to entertain (both young and old) on those long drives. But in addition to portable game systems and similar electronics, here’s a list of ten must-haves to take on your holiday road trip:
1. iPad/Kindle Fire/Tablet – Today’s tablet can be used for more than just playing games. Books, music and movies can be downloaded in advance to keep everyone occupied. There are a ton of useful apps for road trips, too. Two favorites are Gas Buddy, which finds nearby stations with the lowest gas prices, and SitorSquat, which finds clean bathrooms. If you don’t have a 3G plan, it may be wise to get a MiFi to utilize all the features of a tablet when you’re not in the range of Wi-Fi.
2. Portable DVD player – Small, personal DVD players are now dirt cheap, so it’s smart to pick one or two up for an extended road trip. If you’re like us, you have a million DVD’s around the house, and instead of repurchasing them to download on an iPad or tablet, bring them along for the ride. Don’t forget the headphones!
3. First aid kit – Every vehicle should have a first aid kit available at all times. It’s important to check it in advance to make sure it’s stocked with all the necessities like band-aids, bandages (including elastic wrap), antibiotic ointment, disposable gloves, gauze pads, a pair of scissors and tweezers, soap, hand sanitizer and a thermometer. Here’s a complete list from the Mayo Clinic. You’ll also want to bring along Tylenol or another pain/fever reliever for both children and adults, as well as prescriptions.
4. Cooler with drinks & snacks – Snack are a given on any road trip. But take a cooler and buy the goodies in advance to save money along the way. We always go with beef jerky and pork rinds because they’re an indulgent treat that we only eat on the road. Healthy options, like yogurt, cheese, and carrot sticks keep well in a cooler and are a better choice for little ones. We try not to take too many beverages to avoid endless pit stops.
5. GPS or Smartphone with installed turn-by-turn directions – It’s easy to get lost. Avoid having to stop for directions or driving in circles by purchasing a GPS for your vehicle, or downloading an app on your smartphone with verbal turn by turn directions. If you’re driving a new Kia, there’s a good chance you already have an in-dash navigation system like the one in this Kia Sorento
6. Baby wipes – Even if you’re not changing diapers, baby wipes are a must. They can be used to wipe dirty hands and faces, or to quickly clean up a small spill. Plus, they double as toilet paper for the rest stop that doesn’t have any.
7. Activity books – These books are cheap, fun and occupy for hours. When you (or your kids) don’t want to stare at a screen, activity books are the way to go.
8. Designated trash container – Before you even leave the house, take a bag or small can for trash along the way. It’s the little things that make a difference.
9. Roadside emergency kit – Like the first aid kit, this should be standard in every vehicle. These kits include tools, a flashlight, a can of Fix-a-Flat, jumper cables, quarts of oil, and an ice scraper. They can be purchased ready made, or you can DIY a kit. Here’s a list of basic items.
10. Small toy(s) your kids have never seen – When your child is on the verge of a compete melt-down, whip out a toy or game they have never seen before. These toys should be purchased in advance just for the road trip and are a last resort type thing. This usually helps calm little ones until the next stop, or hopefully long enough that you reach your destination.
What are your must-have items for road trips?
Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Kia Motors. This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.