10 Road Trip Essentials for Kids, According to a Mom Who's Driven Thousands of Miles with Her Family
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People / Reese Herrington
Spring break is right around the corner, which means lots of families are embarking on some pretty epic road trips with their kids. While it sounds fun on paper, seasoned parents know it's a lot of hours in a confined space with little people that don't have the patience to not ask "are we there yet?" a million times. That's why I never travel without these things to entertain my three kids — and to keep my own sanity at bay.
From mess-free "coloring" to car organizational products to the multi-tasking wonder that are baby wipes, everything on my list is under $25 and all available at Amazon, so even last-minute planners can make sure they have all the essentials on hand before embarking on an epic adventure.
Parenting Road Trip Essentials at Amazon
Melissa & Doug Water Wow, 3-Pack, $19.69
Uleeka Backseat Car Organizer, $18.59 with coupon (orig. $34.99)
Amazon Elements Baby Wipes with Flip Top, 9-Pack, $17.74 (orig. $19.40)
iClever Cat Ears Light-Up Headphones, $20.99 (orig. $31.99)
Thermos Funtainer, $16.99
HomeWorthy Disposable Placemats, $13.99 with coupon (orig. $19.99)
Lisen Tablet Holder, $15.99 with coupon (orig. $29.99)
Tekfun LCD Drawing Tablet, $16.14 with coupon (orig. $16.99)
Paint-by-Sticker Under the Sea Book, $7.50 (orig. $9.95)
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I don't know who invented these ingenious no-mess "coloring" books, but I owe them a million thanks. These have kept all my kids entertained in their toddler years on planes, cars, and even at home. The included magic pen — which is stored in the pad itself — can easily be filled with water anywhere and the color fades away after an hour so that they can do it all over again (and again and again.) They come in a variety of theme bundles, so every kid can have something they're interested in.
Buy It! Melissa & Doug Water Wow, 3-Pack, $19.69; amazon.com
Unless you love scrambling around while contortedly looking for that one random thing your kid wants, a backseat organizer is a must. Stash tissues, books, devices, loveys, and more, and always know where everything is at a glance. This one even comes with a tablet holder and pockets for water bottles.
Buy It! Uleeka Backseat Car Organizer, $18.59 with coupon (orig. $34.99); amazon.com
Baby wipes for everything — from wiping down sticky hands to cleaning up messes in the car to actual diaper changing business — are definitely one of the ultimate parenting hacks. The flip top on this affordable option is key so the wipes don't dry out when that useless sticky flap stops being so, well, sticky.
Buy It! Amazon Elements Baby Wipes with Flip Top, 9-Pack, $17.74 (orig. $19.40); amazon.com
If any child in your vehicle is going to have any sort of device on this road trip, trust me, you need to get them a pair of headphones. These super fun animal ear headphones come with a mic and cushy earmuffs and most importantly, a 94 decibel volume limit to protect vulnerable little ears.
Buy It! iClever Cat Ears Light-Up Headphones, $20.99 (orig. $31.99); amazon.com
A long road trip means lots of time to kill and I Spy is a classic car game for a reason. This card set takes it to the next level especially when your exhausted brain can't think of any more things to look for on your own. One reviewer even raved, "This game does not get old when on the road!"
Buy It! Briarpatch I Spy Travel Card Game, $8.99; amazon.com
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Nothing is worse than a spilled drink in the car. That's why I always have multiple of these on hand and even if we go through a drive-thru, I'll pour my kids' drinks into these straw containers that will both keep the beverage cold and ensure no one has an unfortunate accident.
Buy It! Thermos Funtainer, $16.99; amazon.com
Road trips also sometimes mean stopping to eat at places that may not be the cleanest. That's why I always have a pack of these in my diaper bag. You simply remove the strips on the back of the placemat to stick it to whatever table you're at. They're great for babies that are just starting to eat fingers foods and for messy toddlers that are touching everything.
Buy It! HomeWorthy Disposable Placemats, $134.99 with coupon (orig. $19.99); amazon.com
Sometimes a parent's gotta do what a parent's gotta do to survive an endless road trip with kids. And that may mean streaming a movie or show in the backseat. This easy-to-use iPad holder attaches to the headrest and even has swiveling capabilities to ensure everyone gets a good view.
Buy It! Lisen Tablet Holder, $16.99 (orig. $29.99); amazon.com
This is basically a black doodle board with an attached stylus that reveals colors underneath for kids to draw or write on to their heart's content. It's 100 percent mess-free and slim and light enough to toss into a purse. If you have older kids they can even pass it back and forth to play games on.
Buy It! Tekfun LCD Drawing Tablet, $15.99 with coupon (orig. $16.99); amazon.com
This is another one of those ingenious mess-free activities that are ideal for travel. Kids simply find the sticker that corresponds with the picture they're "painting" and stick it on the matching number. Perforated pages make it easy to tear out the sheets they want and judging by how many of these I have rolling around the car, it's clearly a road trip MVP.
Buy It! Paint-by-Sticker Under the Sea Book, $7.50 (orig. $9.95); amazon.com
Esther Carlstone is a Commerce Editorial Director at Dotdash Meredith who often writes about her latest and greatest finds for parents.
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