Traveling with children can be tricky no matter how old they are or the limitations of your mode of transportation. Whether by car or plane, train or truck, the key to seamless travel is to be organized but flexible, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. The best way to do this is not to pack excessively, but to pack smartly, with the best products to keep your kids safe, clean, and most importantly, occupied, top of mind.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up a list of the best travel-friendly, specially designed products that will help keep your kids comfortable, entertained, and happy for the long haul, minus all the meals, snacks, treats, and drinks that will take up the rest of their time.
1. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Tablet
Thanks to sleek, lightweight tablets like the Amazon Fire HD, you can retire your chunky portable DVD player and CD carrier stuffed with discs. The 10 is the device’s latest model; It comes with a kid-proof case and guaranteed two-year warranty, or for $275.99 you can splurge on a bundle that also includes a BuddyPhones kid’s headset, carrying sleeve, and screen protector. Your purchase also includes one year of Amazon Kids+, giving your child unlimited access to kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games — aka enough material to keep them entertained for hours in the backseat.
2. Yoto Player
The Yoto Player is a screen-free audio player inspired by Montessori principles and designed to give kids the freedom to choose what sort of stories or music they want to listen to. Here’s how it works: When your child inserts a Yoto Card (sold separately) into the device, the smart speaker plays the audio content. Cards can be purchased in singles or packs, with content appropriate for age groups 0-5, 5-8, 8-12+, and include everything from Disney’s five-minute stories and chapter books, to music compilations, educational activities, and even podcasts. And don’t worry, the device does feature a headphone jack, so you can listen along with your child, or opt for some adult quiet time.
3. Maliton Car Backseat Organizer
Just because kids are generally messy, doesn’t mean your backseat has to be. Consider the Maliton Car Backseat Organizer a compromise for parent and child; the inside of your vehicle stays in order, and your child has all of their favorite activities, travel games, and devices within reach. Unlike its competitors, this backseat organizer is loaded with compartments: 10 storage and two backup pockets, all of which come in varying sizes to fit a host of products.
4. Lamicall Headrest Tablet Mount
If an entire seat-length organizer isn’t necessary to keep your little one occupied, but some kind of tablet device is, invest in a headrest mount like this one from Lamicall. Compatible with practically every device you can think of (including smartphones), the mount is also able to rotate 360 degrees and is well protected with soft rubber pads that prevent friction and vibration. It’s one of the best products for road trips with kids.
5. Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle
We don’t know what’s worse: sticky hands rubbing against your seats, or drink spills. Unfortunately, you can’t always have an eye on your child’s wiping habits (being that your eyes are supposed to be on the road), but we can easily eliminate juice stains from your list of stressors with the Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle. The portable drinkware comes with a BPA-free, leak-proof straw lid that won’t drip a drop when the nozzle is closed. It’s also vacuum insulated, so your child’s drink will stay cold for hours, and comes in seven sizes, from 14oz to 84oz, to ensure the whole family never goes thirsty.
6. Little Kids Fubbles No-Spill Bubble Tumbler
Bubble break! If you’re going to make a pitstop to use the bathroom or restock on snacks, you might as well take some time to stretch out your legs and let your precious cargo play a little. Personally, this writer has never met a parent who didn’t enjoy blowing bubbles with their toddler, so for travel buddies 18 months and older, break out the Fubbles between long stretches of road. Little ones will love blowing and popping its soapy orbs, and parents will love that this tumbler features a patented No-Spill design, eliminating any potential leakage in the car or luggage.
7. The Honest Company Sanitizing Alcohol Wipes
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of diligently washing our hands and sanitizing everything. This is an especially important habit when traveling with little ones, as you might find yourself without soap and water. To keep your family clean and safe, stash a pack of these sanitizing alcohol wipes from The Honest Company in your car. Each wipe is made with plant-derived alcohol and a touch of aloe to keep hands from drying out, and while the photographed package above is fragrance-free, the wipes are also available in two scents: Lavender Field and Grapefruit Grove.
8. OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty
Accidents happen, especially for potty training toddlers. Luckily, if your little one vocalizes they “gotta go” right now, you’ll be well prepared to prevent said accidents if you have the OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty in your trunk. The compact toddler toilet has legs that fold and lock into place. It can be used as a stand-alone potty or setup on public restroom toilets and comes with three disposable bags with absorbent pads. Refills are available, but the potty is compatible with your standard plastic bags, too.
9. Puro BT2200 Kids’ Headphones With Microphone
Finding the best headphones for kids is no easy feat, but this pair comes highly recommended by Spy’s tech expert, Jonathan Knoder, for its kid-friendly safety features, comfortable wear, and sound quality. The size and design of the Puro BT2200 allow it to be used on both toddlers and children, so they’re built to last for years of road trips to come. What’s more, this pair of headphones come with a built-in microphone and are noise-canceling, so you can play your music without interfering with the audio of their video.
10. Enovoe Car Window Shade
Window shades might sound like a fluke, especially considering the fact that a giant windshield is still welcoming in a bunch of sunlight. However, parents say they do actually make a difference, claiming not only are they essential for backseat nappers, but car window shades also help protect your child from excessive sun exposure and harmful UV rays.
11. Seat Belt Protector Cushion
One of the first steps when planning for road trips with kids is comfort. As it can be uncomfortable for us to sit in a car for hours on end, it has to be even more annoying for kids, especially in the backseat. One solution is the Seat Belt Protector Cushion. These pads for seatbelts are made for older kids who use a regular seatbelt and are out of a full car seat. Easy to use, this protector cushion is a great way to prevent a sore neck or shoulder, easy to remove and clean with Velcro closure and will comfortably cushion your child’s head when they inevitably fall asleep in the car.
13. Car Garbage Can
Another way to make road trips more pleasant is to keep a clean and organized car. The Drive Bin is a versatile container that will help keep your vehicle clean and doubles as a soft cooler for travel snacks and drinks. This garbage can is perfect for road trips, as you tend to collect a ton of junk during a long car ride with kids. As a bonus, the Drive Bin comes with a 20-pack of extra waterproof liner bags that will help keep the car tidy and odor-free.
14. Travel Board Games
An obvious yet invaluable survival tool when on a road trip with kids is a board game. This Super Set of 12 Board Games are great as they are compact, portable, and best of all magnetic so the pieces stay on the board. Games included are Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Tic Tac Toe, Backgammon, Snakes & Ladders, Solitaire, Nine Men’s Morris, Auto Racing, Ludo, Space Venture, and Racing.
15. Backseat Travel Kit
Another great travel accessory for long car rides with kids is the Backseat Travel Kit for Kids by Rand McNally. The bundle includes three activity books that have puzzles, quizzes, and games, a 32-page doodle book, and two sticker sheets. All are housed in a sturdy case fitted with a magnetic closure with room to store extra writing and drawing utensils and paper.
16. Travel Lap Tray
Another option for stress-free road trips with kids is the travel lap tray. This tray is durable, made of foam, and has plastic inserts to create a solid, firm, and flat surface for your child to write and play on. Also included is a zipper-protected pocket and expandable storage to hold notebooks, crayons, and snacks all within arms reach. The lap tray is durable, wipe-able, and machine washable for germ-free cleaning. The tray is also easy to put on and take off, simply wrap and click the adjustable strap around your child’s waist.
17. Drawing Activity Set
This Drawing Stencil Kit is an all-in-one activity set that includes a high-quality storage case, plastic drawing stencils, blank sheets of paper, colored pencils, a sharpener, and clips. This is another great product for kids on road trips that can be shared with everyone in the car and includes a lap tray for easy playing. With over 280 individual stencils from animals and flowers to boats and cars, this complete, travel-friendly kit is perfect to take wherever you may go and provides hours of creative fun.