After planning our trip to Florida for the summer, we decided that it would be fun to drive like we did when the kids were much younger. Plus, we were ready to break in our new Explorer, so off we went!
Of course, staying sane in the car on a long road trip is important, and so is having the right gear when you reach your destination.
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Here are some of the things that we can’t live without on summer road trips –
Kindles – When you spend 10+ hours in the car, you need some entertainment, and the Kindle is the perfect device for our kids. They have their books, games, and movies stored for hours of various entertainment. Favorite games on the Kindles include Crossy Road, Smashy Road, Geometry Dash, and Minecraft Pocket Edition.
Keep in mind that only one or two movies can be stored on these devices for road trips. Without wi-fi, you can’t stream your videos like you do at home. The good news is that most hotels offer free wi-fi, so you can put different movies on each time you stop.
Nintendo 3DS – I had a Nintendo GameBoy for road trips when I was a kid, and this company continues to create new and fun games to keep kids quietly entertained. Our kids have the 3DS, and their favorite games include Tomodachi Life, Nintendogs, MarioKart, Super Smash Bros., and Super Street Fighter IV..
Melissa and Doug License Plate Game – I have always played the license plate game on road trips, and usually just write the states down on a piece of paper as we go. This year, I found this great Melissa and Doug version of the game that the whole family enjoyed. All of their products are well made, and this one is no exception. It includes wooden blocks that are bungee corded to the board and have the license tag for each state on one side, the name of the state and its capital on the other, and a red or a blue stripe on either edge. There are several ways to play, and we chose to play in teams. When your team calls the state, you flip your block over to your color. It got pretty competitive.
Coleman Steel-Belted Ice Chest – I had purchased the cooler about a year ago because I wanted something durable for camping trips that would keep ice for a few days, but not something in the Yeti price range either. I’ve been happy with the Coleman and the retro styling is just like the one my Dad kept when I was a kid.
Lug Travel Pillow – I have had my Lug travel pillow for years. It is made of a soft fleece material, and it includes a blanket inside. When you remove the blanket, you can inflate the pillow insert and zip the cover back around it. It is so soft and comfortable, and I have taken it on many trips. It also comes in a neck pillow version.
Canon Powershot SX710 HS Wi-fi – We bought our point and shoot camera for our trip to Europe because we didn’t want to have to haul the big camera around, and I have been very impressed with the quality of pictures that we have gotten with this camera. It is small and lightweight, and has an amazing zoom. I was able to get great pictures of Queen Elizabeth on her balcony at quite a distance. I also love how I can easily transfer pictures from the camera to my phone for sharing on social media or text message.
Rubbermaid Seat Organizers – These seat organizers kept all of the kids’ gear within reach and kept their seat space free of clutter, which is important on long road trips. We don’t want tiny 3DS games getting lost between the seats! The kids really liked the fold down tray because it was perfect for holding their Kindles while they watched a movie, or for keeping their snacks.
Mainly Auto Car Trash Can – I can’t stand clutter in the car, especially on road trips, so we put this over-the-seat trash can behind the middle row. The kids could easily reach it to throw away all of their snack wrappers. It is a great size, not too big, not too small, and it has a space to store extra liners.
Lands’ End Kids Swimsuits – Summer travel usually means swimming, and our skinny boy has a hard time finding elastic waist pants that don’t fall down. Land’s End makes swim trunks in a slim fit which work perfectly for him. I like their variety of cute, yet modest, girls’ styles as well.
Lands’ End Kids Flip Flops – Kids can be hard on flip flops, and there’s nothing worse than being out somewhere, like the beach or a splash pad, and having one of your straps break. Have you ever tried to walk in a broken flip flop? I love the Land’s End flip flops because they are so sturdy and well made.
Vera Bradley Triple-Zip Hipster Crossbody Bag – This was another purchase for our trip to Europe last year that I have been so pleasantly surprised by. I wanted something that would hold my camera, wallet, passports, and an umbrella without being bulky. I also wanted something that I could keep close to my body to deter pickpockets. This purse fit the bill on all accounts. I even started carrying it as my regular purse, and it has held up quite well. I love all the zippered pockets on the front. It was easy to keep our train tickets within reach, and I felt like everything was safe and secure in it.
Coleman Panchos – You can’t go to Florida without a pancho, and these were great because they come in kids’ sizes and are a little better made than some you might purchase in a panic at the theme parks. They are made of a sturdier, thicker material than those, and they fit our children perfectly.
Converter Cables – Last but not least, bring some cables for plugging devices into the entertainment units at the hotel. We noticed that several of the places we stayed in have handy A/V plugs for plugging in any number of device so that they display on the room’s TV. For Kindle, an HDMI adapter would be handy. Same for your iOS devices. We have a FireTV here at the house, and I wish I would have brought it, because we could have logged in and streamed TV shows and movies.
So there you have it! I hope some of our suggestions help travel better this summer wherever the road takes you.
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This post is part of our #SummerRoadTrip2016 series. Other posts in this series can be found here:
- AftT’s Guide to Wizarding Around Universal Orlando Resort
- The Best Parasailing in Florida
- Visiting Graceland with Kids
- The Best of Walt Disney World Resort – Old Favorites and New Magic