A long car ride can be exhausting for anyone of any age. Children are usually have the most difficult time since they are little Energizer Bunnies that can't keep still. Having them belted into a car seat is not easy for them and hence, not easy for you, the parents. I've compiled my time tested list of must haves when taking young children on a car long ride.
- Portable DVD Player. The power of a good movie will quite your little munchkin down for over an hour! Arm yourself with your kids favorite DVDs and you too can survive your road trip. I personally own (and love) the RCA 7-Inch Dual Screen Mobile DVD System. I have two kiddos so having two screens with the same movie is helpful so there are no arguements over who gets the screen in front of them. Plus, having the screens headrest mounted means the toddler can't drop (or throw) the DVD player. You can buy them refurbished for only $49.95 from Amazon. And if you're a Prime customer like me, you will love this item has Prime shipping. Check out the link bellow.
- Lovelys. Don't forget your child's lovelys. Having their favorite stuffed friend or their blanky is important for your little one's comfort. Just make sure that they stay safe on your car ride as things often get left at rest stops. Make a rule that stuffed friends must stay in the car. Also, its a good practice to check for your child's lovely before hitting the road after every stop.
- Mess Free Coloring. Pack crayons over markers or get some mess free markers. My toddler loves Crayola's Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring Books and Markers. There are so many different character themed coloring books and many different color markers. They even sell a travel case which not only holds everything in place but it offers a coloring surface while in the car seat. My suggestion is to load up on many different books and extra markers. Mess free coloring has kept my kiddos busy during trips which saves my sanity as I know they wont get marker covered hands or faces, you can't put anything past a toddler.
- Pillows. Even if you plan on staying at a hotel at night, a pillow can still come in handy. Children often nap in car rides, even big kids. If you child is in a booster or a regular car safety belt then it is best to pack a pillow so they can rest their heads. Its not a bad idea for any adult passengers as well.
- A Cookie Sheet. Sounds strange but cookie sheets are awesome for a car ride. I buy each kid a cookie sheet for things like coloring on or writing in journals. Also you can bring magnets to entertain your kiddos. Cookie sheets are metal and using them to display letter magnets or magnetic puzzles. Your older kids into Minecraft? They can build a Minecraft scene with magnets that resemble the blocks from the game.
- Reusable Puffy Sticker Sets. These sticker sets worked wonders for my toddler. It would work even better for a Preschooler. I found Disney themed stickers for our resent Disney trip and my toddler got a new set every time she fussed. I brought 3 which worked wonders for the ride to Disney. Next time I will buy 3 more for the ride home as stickers get lost or lint covered.
- Snack Cups. The most brilliant inventions, snack cups. Especially those straw cups with the snack compartments. If your car seats lack cup holders then you are really going to love the compact design of a snack and drink cup. We usually get ZakSnak Tumblers. They have all kinds of characters from Pokemon to R2D2 and Princess Poppy to Minnie Mouse. We bought Lion Guard and Shimmer and Shine for our toddler who loved the characters which made it seem like a special treat. You can find them at Target or on Amazon.
- New Character Toys. Kids love receiving new toys. Something new will give your child a whole new world to imagine. I recommend toys your child doesn't already have. If you buy another Littlest Pet Shop and your child has a dozen or more at home, they will loose interest quicker than a whole new toy. And from one mom (and Dad) to another, don't and I can't stress enough, DO NOT buy Legos! No matter how big your big kid is, Legos go everywhere! If you buy a set and those sets needs every stinking Lego piece, I promise you, one will get lost and spoil the whole set. You will have that big kid beside themselves over a single missing piece. Its not fun!
- Snacks! Snacks! and more Snacks! Trust me, snacks of all different kinds are necessary for a long car ride. Make sure you have a variety from pretzels to fresh fruit. As much as I usually like to push the healthy snacks, on a long car ride have a few fun sized candy bars tucked in your purse so when the kiddos are fussing and don't want to sit in the car any longer you had them a fun size Musketeers bar and enough the silence.
- Electronics. I saved this one for last because its usually the most expensive. But having a few games on a tablet or smart phones help. If you have an old smartphone that you don't use load it up with games over your home WiFi. Make sure the games don't need the internet to run and you have a free way to entertain your munchkins with electronics. If you don't have an old phone laying around then get a kid friendly tablet. This may not be as expensive as you think. We've heard good things about Dragon Touch tablets. A few of our friends have them for their toddlers and preschools and they have held up the constant drops from tiny hands. I found a Dragon Touch Y88X Plus 7 inch Kids Tablet 2017 Disney Edition, Quad Core CPU, Android 5.1 Lollipop, IPS Display, Kidoz Pre-Installed with Bonus Disney Content (more than $60 Value) for 68.99. The cases come in a couple of different colors so check them out.
- Camera. Whether its an old point in shoot or a disposable, giving an older child a camera to take their own photos can be a great source of entertainment. Plus, you get great selfies and shots of the kids during the ride without any effort on your part. :)
Hope this list helps. Please leave any other suggestions in the comments bellow. Don't forget to pack some things for the ride home as well. I hope you all survive and enjoy your trips with your children! Stay sane!