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Family Road Trip Survival Guide

14 tips for playing nice in the car.

by Christina Couch

November 23, 2009

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The holidays are quickly approaching and that can only mean one thing – road trip! Before packing the kids in the car and heading out to Grandma’s, make sure you’re ready with this road trip survival kit. Trust us, it’ll make the trip much smoother. – Christina Couch

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YakPack

Most families carry a first aid kit, but few are prepared for motion sickness, illness and food spills. Each YakPack comes with plastic bags, latex gloves, a plastic scoop, antimicrobial wipes and absorbent, deodorizing powder. Though you may never have to actually use the YakPack, having peace of mind knowing that your car’s interior won’t be sacrificed on the way home from Aunt Betsy’s Thanksgiving dinner is worth the $8 alone.

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Sleeping Bags

Bring at least one per child. Operating as blankets, pillows, backseat forts, dividers between siblings or picnic blankets for roadside meals, sleeping bags may actually be the only thing bringing weary parents peace.

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Music That Doesn’t Suck

Six hours of Old MacDonald is going to get old mighty fast. To break the boredom, either create your own family-friendly playlist say, for every song the kids pick, Mom and Dad get to pick one too or try out a few kid CDs that are adult-friendly too. We highly suggest Brats on the Beat: Ramones for Kids , Kimya Dawson’s Alphabutt album and No! by They Might Be Giants.

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Car Games

Tired of I-Spy, Twenty Questions and the license plate game? So are your kids. Ultimate Road Trip Games ($14.95) provides 140 pages of fresh family-friendly games to beat the boredom and Pressman Toy’s 12 in 1 game set ($5.29) offers a dozen games including magnetic checkers, chess and tic tac toe. While the latter may not be suitable for smaller children (due to the tiny, oh-so-swallowable pieces), it’s sure to keep kids ages seven and up occupied for a while. Free printable travel games are also available at GetRoadReady.com.

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Cyclops Atom Headlamp

Driving at night usually means that traveling kids are either sleeping or whining. To keep the whines at bay, this miner-style reading light gives children a few more hours of reading and playtime when the sun goes down. It’s also useful for nighttime games once you’ve finally reached your destination.

Family Road Trip Survival Guide

14 tips for playing nice in the car.

by Christina Couch

November 23, 2009

400x236.jpg

1

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An Audio Escape

If the kids are wrapped up in games or sleeping, take time for yourself (while you can). To get a few adult moments in between family time, pop in an audio book or one of the bazillion cheap podcasts on iTunes. “This American Life,” “How Stuff Works,” NASA, Oprah and National Public Radio all offer free podcasts on topics ranging from celebrity gossip to space technology.

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Nintendo DS

In an ideal world, road trips would be delightful excursions filled with engaging family conversation. In reality, sitting in a cramped car for several hours with kids usually means at least some whining, sibling fights and wars over the music. Burying your kid in a video game for an hour or so may not be the most intellectual way to spend a lengthy car ride, but it can give Mom and Dad a few hours of peace. To avoid numbing your child’s brain, check out our list of creativity-building video games here .

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Space Bags

Road trips are hard enough even if everyone’s got ample leg room. To save on packing space, these vacuum-sealed bags shrink clothes to one-third of their normal size so you can pack more with less space. While the bag is like kryptonite for clothes that wrinkle easily, it works wonders for casual outfits, under-things and children’s wear.

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CarMD

The last thing you need is a mid-trip breakdown. Designed to catch engine problems early, this handheld gadget plugs into your car’s internal computer (provided that the car was made after 1996) and lets drivers know if there are any engine or emissions problems before they begin driving. If there is one, CarMD will connect you with a call support center manned by trained mechanics and technicians. While the device can’t guarantee that your trip will run smooth as butter, it can predict if your car will.

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Chapter Books

They may not be as flashy or eye-catching as DS games, but good old fashioned books can actually be fun on a road trip, particularly when they’re read round-robin style in zany voices. To get kids excited about their destination, choose a book that’s either set in or about the town where you’re headed. GoodLittleTraveler.com contains an extensive list of travel books for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Family Road Trip Survival Guide

14 tips for playing nice in the car.

by Christina Couch

November 23, 2009

400x236.jpg

1

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Tom Tom One 125 Portable GPS Navigator

Were you supposed to take 55 West to 65 North or 65 West to 55 North? Don’t worry, this guy will read your directions for you. One of the cheapest and most reliable GPS systems on the market, the Tom Tom One 125 comes with US maps already loaded as well as alternative routes in case of traffic or a sudden detour. Roadside necessities food, gas stations, toll roads are all in the system, as are major attractions, beaches, campgrounds, car repair shops, hospitals and police stations. Granted, it’s not as well-stocked as newer, pricier models, but for families looking for a modestly-priced way to avoid getting lost, it’s hard to beat.

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Keep Your Cooler Beach Backpack Cooler

You’re going to need snacks for the road, so instead of relying on crappy fast food, pack healthy hunger-busters and keep them cold. In addition to feeding traveling kids on the go, the backpack straps make this sucker easy to haul out to the beach, sports games and family hikes.

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Potette Plus Portable Potty

Everybody poops and thanks to this fold-away potty with disposable liners, your kids can even when there’s not a sanitary restroom for miles. Holding up to five ounces of liquid and suitable for children weighing 50 lbs or less, the Potette Plus doubles as both a stand-alone portable toilet and a collapsible training seat. The potty comes with three disposable liners, but getting rid of them . . . well . . . that’s up to you.

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Wagan Power Dome

If you do have a roadside breakdown, Wagan Power Dome will come to the rescue. A jump starter, air compressor, storage unit and outlet all rolled into one, the Power Dome can restart a dead battery, pump up a tire and play your iPod at the same time. Lights, jumper cables and space to store a first aid kit are also included. Go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief.

Find more:

Thanksgiving Special Issue 2009

Thanksgiving, Tom Coliccho Style

Best Holiday Travel Gear

Thanksgiving Discounts & Deals

This article was written by Christina Couch for Babble.com, the magazine and community for a new generation of parents.

Article Posted 6 years Ago
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