The items in this post were given to me for the purpose of this post. All the opinions are my own.
Every year we take a road trip after Christmas. We leave on Boxing Day at oh-my-goodness-o’clock and drive 5 hours to set up camp at a beach town called South West Rocks that only has a population in Summer.
We try to pack light, but every year, without doubt, I end up with all the stuff that didn’t fit under my feet in the car and travel with my knees around my ears in a pose reminiscent of one you strike at a gynaecological appointment.
But there are some things we take that are ESSENTIAL. They make the road trip so much more bearable and mean that we have to make fewer stops and listen to fewer complaints on the way…because let’s be honest- nobody wants to hear “are we there yet” when you’re 5 minutes from home and have 5 hours to go.
Road trip essentials- what you need for a long car ride with kids
Laser portable DVD player.
I always swore blind my kids wouldn’t be watching DVDs in the car. And then I had kids. This Laser portable DVD player is a sanity saver. With its 10 inch manoeuvrable screen, both kids can watch at once! We are lucky enough to have a wide centre console in our car and it happily sits up there, close to the cigarette lighter charger…so we never run out of juice.
Super easy to use and lightweight, you can play more than just DVDs, with the option of using an SD card or even a USB stick to fuel the kids with all the movies that they need. It also comes in handy for listening to point 2! Without needing to listen to it up front as well. Just plug int the headphones and the kids can listen to their favourite audiobooks.
It comes with a case, remote and headphones- you will need a splitter if you want two kids to listen at once, but that is a worthwhile investment. If your car is without rear entertainment, this is an essential, especially if you get stuck in long northbound (or southbound) traffic jams! I recommend getting this for your kids for Christmas, make the best long car ride ever!
We normally do a shared present for both kids to enjoy whilst away and this is top of our list. Retailing at $179.95.
Last year I bought the Roald Dahl audiobooks from Costco and they were a game changer for our car journey. When it was rainy and miserable, we just popped in the CDs and there was instant silence in the car. The kids were enthralled with the stories. It’s an awesome way to make the journey more interesting and also to “read” some classic stories.
Even better if just the kids can listen to them together on the DVD player! These retail at $67.99 at Catch.com.au and seriously are a game changer. For younger kids there is a collection by Julia Donaldson that is awesome too- we love that one for shorter trips. We have found these to be one of our most important road trip essentials!
- Headphones for the gaming child So my son. What can I say, well he’s my gamer kid. Nothing keeps him satisfied like being able to play games (sometimes even educational ones) on the iPad, or watching his favourite shows on Netflix. But…NEWSFLASH…nobody else wants to listen to them. And that’s where these Bluetooth Laser headphones come in. Who can put a price on not listening to “pow, zap, bing” for 5 hours? An awesome stocking stuffer that means that they can listen to their own tunes in the car…bonus! Having no cord it also means you can control the device up front in the car if they are listening to music, rather than them holding (and dropping) it! They recharge with a USB cable, and the volume is super easy to adjust using the button on the ear.
The fun colours (peach or navy) mean they appeal to the kids too but aren’t too kid looking to not be used by ME when I need time out! Retailing at $29.95 at laserco.com.au, they offer 12 hours of listening on one charge…which means that when you get to your destination there is enough charge to pop them on yourself and enjoy…
Drink bottles that keep drinks cool.
My kids don’t like warm drinks. But not many kids do. One of my pet hates is uninsulated drink bottles that don’t contain enough water. Which is why I love these bottles from Montii Co. Not only do they hold enough water to get you to your destination, but they are also spill proof when you use the sports lids (sold separately).
The insulation is awesome, and you won’t have to worry about warm water. Retailing at $29.95 from Montii.
Don’t want the kids on devices the whole way? Well, here are some awesome ideas to keep them entertained that don’t involve a screen:
Road trip activities and games
Awesome games for road trips
Road trip drawing prompts
I got the battery replaced on my iphone recently, but I still need to power up. Especially when I’m using it for navigation or for music. Or there’s the times when I’ve forgotten to charge the headphones, or the kindle, or my watch…or…or…or the list goes on. Either way, I’ve found carrying around a power bank to be invaluable.
It can also be recharged in the car, which is a bonus if you’ve forgotten to charge it- just use the cigarette lighter adpater, and endless battery is soon yours. I love these as they can charge an iphone 7 1.5 times which means I am never without my camera on my phone.
Made by Belkin, they are sleek, easy to use and come in pretty colours (that’s the most important bit, right?), you can grab your own here for $39.95 (but can you put a price on your phone being recharged??).
Because really, they aren’t glamourous, but they serve a purpose, I always carry a variety in the car ready to go, like this USB to micro USB from Belkin, that I can use for my kindle, headphones, devices and anything else that needs charging.
I find it easier to have a set in the car as it means I can pack my others in my luggage! Our car has multiple charging points (GO JEEP!) but even so, I often find I’m charging on the go with a power bank. Available in four colours, black, silver, rose gold and gold for $39.95 from Belkin, they are excellent quality and super flexible so they will withstand the test of a long road trip!
When it comes to snacks for the kids, it’s best to pack in leakproof containers, like the yumbox mini snack. I portion out a meal for the kids to eat on the go and try to make it as nutritious as possible, chopped fruit and veggies, cheese and crackers- basically what I pack for recess is normally enough to tide them over.
The best thing about leakproof containers? When they are closed and fall off the seat…they stay closed and nothing leaks. These are $26.95 from Mini Hippo.
Wipes, tissues and hand sanitiser
“Mum! I’ve got a bleeding nose!”, “Mum there’s no toilet paper in here”, “Mum…Mum…Mum”. Yep. Pre-empt it, have tissues and wipes at the ready. And the hand sanitiser. Because “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING” means “WIPE YOUR WHOLE BODY OVER IT” in kid-speak. They are definitely road trip essentials!
Reusable coffee cups
Two problems with takeaway cups: they are bad for the environment and the coffee tastes bad out of them. So be sensible and eco and take your own! I am loving these collapsible cups from StojoAU as they take up so little space when collapsed, perfect for popping into your handbag so you’ve always got a cup.
So you packed snackboxes, but unfortunately, they are still S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G and they have to eat even though you are 6 minutes from your destination. That is why extra snacks are one of our road trip essentials! This is when I have some of our favourite packages snacks ready to go:
sunrice brown rice mini bites original
messy monkey strawberry and apple bars
Car seat organisers
Personal pet hate: reaching things on the floor of the car, on the backseat, in the door cup holders. So we organise everything in car seat organisers, they are cheap and you can get them from kmart. The convenience of the kids having everything at their fingertips and easy to grab is fantastic!
If you need food ideas for when you are on holidays, check out this blog post: Eating healthily with kids on holidays. Or if you’re heading to a cold location, read our guide to having an awesome snow trip with kids!