There’s a lot of great guides out there for unplugging on road trips. While I agree that it’s a great thing to do, as a mom who is sometimes driving two kids under 8 across the country alone, I often turn to electronics to help out and keep me sane. Here are my tech road trip essentials for kids with help from tech expert Amber Mac.
Before you even get started on your road trip, you’ll need to make sure you have enough chargers for the ride. I drive a Dodge Journey which luckily enough has an electrical plug on the back of the center console. It’s easy for the kids to keep their gadgets charged while my phone is plugged into the built-in USB charger.
If your car does not have this feature or you need to keep more than a few things charged, tech expert Amber Mac, suggests picking up the Bestek Car Cup Power Inverter. The power inverter fits into your cup holder and gives you two AC outlets, two USB charging ports and a 12V cigarette lighter socket.
Photo credit: Bestek
Don’t forget to double check that you have the correct chargers and that they work before you hit the road. A costly mistake I have made more than once!
Any parent knows that after a few hours of listening to anything from a children’s’ song collection to a DVD to the sound of video games, you will start to go a little crazy. Thus, headphones are always a must on our road trips. We have gone through more headphones than I can count trying to find ones that aren’t too loud or don’t break too easily. A great find is the LilGadgets Headphones available at bestbuy.ca or amazon.ca. According to Amber Mac, the headphones are durable, comfortable and light with a max volume of 93db to protect little ears. I particularly like that you can connect the headphones together through a shareport so the kids can listen to the same device at the same time with no additional splitters needed. Wired headphones cost around $34.99 while the wireless version will run you $69.99 a set.
Photo credit: LilGadgets
3. Nintendo 3DS XL
As huge gamers, the Nintendo 3DS XL gets a lot of action in our house. Both Will and Charlie have one and these units have come a long way since my teenage road trips with the early generation Game Boy. The 3DS XL allows kids to play more in-depth games than most phone apps which eat up a lot more time on the road particularly when stuck in summer traffic. I love that the 3D feature is optional and can be shut off depending on which game they are playing.
Here are a few of our favorite new and older games that we love to bring on trips:
- Kirby: Planet Robobot – Kirby has always been a big hit at our house and that didn’t change with the newest release that hit the market June 10, 2016. Kirby takes on a slightly new form as the pink blob dons new Robobot armor that allows him to lift heavy objects, defeat enemies and transform into a bunch of different modes. A slew of new amiibos were released with the game that gives Kirby even more features. I particularly like that this game isn’t hard to play. The kids are able to get through the levels of their own meaning I can concentrate on getting us from A to B safely.
- Disney Art Academy – Another recent release, Disney Art Academy is a great choice for long road trips. In the game, kids use different tools to learn to draw more than 80 Disney and Pixar Characters. There is also a free paint mode that lets kids use their imaginations and create their own artwork on a blank canvas. I’ve been surprised to catch Will and Charlie doodling Disney characters on paper lately and like that the games inspire them to be creative with and without electronics.
- Yo-Kai Watch – Last Fall Yo-Kai Watch burst into Canada with not only the game being released in North America but a variety of toys and a cartoon. My kids have been playing it ever since. I find it particularly funny that if there is a stench in the air or rainclouds in the sky, they always know which Yo-Kai to blame. They enjoy playing this game together and separately and I wouldn’t embark on a road trip without it.
- Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer – Another Fall release that has stood the test of time in our household is Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. In this game, kids get to take on the role of interior designer and get work assignments that they must complete. The further along they go in the game, the bigger the project. The last road trip we took Charlie was hard at work on a new school for her community. I raved about this game in the Fall as I watched both their creativity levels soar and still love when they show me their unique designs.
4. Family Playlist
One of my personal tech road trip essentials is a family playlist for impromptu sing-alongs. I like to pick about 4 or 5 songs that we each individually love and not tell the kids ahead of time. I love watching them perk up when their songs come on and hearing them sing along to some of my favorites. Since it’s not all my music they don’t complain about the playlist or ask to switch the song. Lately, I’ve caught them singing along with me to Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel and the Tragically Hip. I’ve also really enjoyed some of the music they’ve been introduced to through friends at school.
A final recommendation that both Amber Mac and I really like is the free Trekaroo iPhone App. The app created by the team at Trekaroo.com (which I am a writer for) helps you find kid-friendly activities, hotels, restaurants and more no matter where you are. Just hit the “What’s Nearby” tab to find a range of things from museums to beaches and parks. Make sure to create your own Trekaroo.com account and leave reviews for other families on what you loved and what wasn’t a hit with your kids. You can check out my reviews here.
Tech Roadtrip Essentials for Kids
Although we love getting outdoors and away from electronics, the reality is that we can travel further and with less stress with the above tech road trip essentials along for the ride. Have any go-to tech essentials that I missed? Tell me about them in the comments and I’ll take them out for a test drive this summer.