A kiddie potty here, a toy caddy there—your house may have all the essentials your children need, but when it’s time to go on a trip with your family, it’s close to impossible to fit everything inside your car to make it fun and comfortable for everyone.
One thing you must prioritize when going anywhere with your family is safety, so you should have first aid kits in both your home and your car. Keep the kit in the glove compartment so it’s always accessible and you won’t have to go out of the car when you need it.
Aside from a first aid kit, here are some other essentials you should never go on a drive without.
- Child seats – car seats for children come in all sizes, and it’s important to have the right sizes for each of your children and that the seats fit your vehicle. Make sure your children are comfortably snug; a too-tight seat can make riding uncomfortable. Pay special attention to proper installation, as an incorrectly secured car seat can cause it to come loose while the car is in motion.
- Car seat protection – car seat covers go underneath the child seats to protect your upholstery from depression damage and scuff marks.
- Travel organizer – let your children bring the toys that they want for the trip and stash these in a travel organizer to keep things tidy. Car organizers can also hold sippy cups and snacks, so your child can ride and dine in style.
- Auto tray table – a long road trip can make kids restless, but with a fold-out tray table installed, your children can eat, play with their Legos, doodle, and fill out coloring books on the go.
- Portable DVD players – you can have a whole entertainment system complete with headrest monitors installed in your car, or simply get portable DVD players and MP3 adapters. Bring along your child’s favorite cartoon or movie, pop it in the player, and enjoy driving without the distraction of kids asking “Are we there yet?” You can also plug in your MP3 player and sing along to the Frozen soundtrack—when your kids fall asleep you can then change to your favorite ABBA tunes.
- Side pillows – most car manufacturers fail to consider children when they designed their airbag technology, so side pillows to cushion your child’s body in the event of a crash is definitely a must.
- Floor mats – children get into all sorts of things and take these along with them. Protect your floorboards from mud, oil, and other gunk your children may innocently bring into the car. For best protective results, get a high-quality rubber mat that’s durable and easy to clean. Some floor mats are even designed with tall outer ridges that can effectively contain rainwater, mud, and minor spills from sodas and such.
- Extra storage – going on a trip—or simply picking up your kids from soccer practice—necessitates plenty of storage for sports equipment, luggage, and other items you can’t leave home without. You may need roof storage and, for long camping trips, a hitch and trailer.
Now that you have everything in place, pack up and get ready to go. Don’t forget the snacks (and the hand wipes)!