Car Trip Survival Kit Includes Top Road Trip Essentials for Every Age

We polled staff and site visitors to compile a list of the top 30 health, safety, and entertainment items guaranteed to keep road trip travelers — from infants to adolescents — in their seats. So, without breaking the bank or loading down parents with a lot of excess gear, here’s a Car Trip Survival Kit any parent can assemble, probably from gear you already own.

Chevy Chase in car for "Animal House Vacation."
The Griswolds embark on a road trip in “Animal House Vacation.”

For Parents To Carry and Administer:

  • Moist towelettes or wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Zip-loc bags: trash, dirty diapers and car sickness attacks
  • Masking tape: stakes out territory for siblings
  • Roll of “discipline” quarters: start your trip with a full roll for each child;  take one away for infractions or add one for good behavior
  • Flashlight: to reward kids who want to read after dark
  • Car charging unit for all electronics

For Infants & Toddlers

  • Cooler to hold toys and drinks/snacks
  • Baby safety mirror: clip on visor so driver or passenger can view baby without turning around
  • Pop-up top on sippy cup for juice/milk
  • Bottle warmer with cigarette lighter power adaptor
  • Pull-down, lock-in-place back window shade to keep sun away and divert vision of motion sick kids
  • Plush toys
  • Padded toy bar to clip onto rear or front-facing car seat
  • Sports bottle caps to convert bottled water into no-spill container

For Preschoolers to Have in Backseat

  • Sing-along recordings with book of lyrics for whole family
  • Plush toy and picture book for sibling to read aloud
  • Auto Bingo or “I Spy” out-the-window games on highway
  • Playsets with self-stick felt pieces to place on cardboard scene, or washable crayons and pad of paper

For School Age Children to Have in Backseat

  • Selection of absorbing books with large type
  • Favorite comics, manuals, “Waldo” search-for-clues type books
  • Audio Books or Children’s Story Channel on Sirus radio (Kids Place Live at Channel 78 and Radio Disney on Channel 79) 
  • DVD player, iPad or mobile phone with headset (Y-jack for siblings)
  • Magnetic chess and checkers gameboard
  • Deck of cards

For Tweens and Teens to Carry on Own

  • Most of the above plus:
  • Spotify, personal mixtape or collection of tunes to play on car stereo
  • Selection of books
  • Portable video games
  • Portable DVD player, iPad or small laptop with power adaptor to run off the car’s cigarette lighter. Be sure to secure the player safely with Velcro to the back of the front seat, in the well between front seats, or another convenient spot where kids can watch but not touch it.

Anything else you think is essential?  Please note it in the Comments Field below.

Remember! None of these suggested amusements take the place of using car trips and plane rides to get to know your captive kids a little better, and to discuss what’s on their minds. That may well be the strongest family memory you take away from your vacation.

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