I admire the families that attempt long summer road trips with kids, especially because my kids consider a road trip to be anything longer than an hour. On short trips, relying on technology is usually my last resort, but for the extra long rides (that’s 1.25 hours for us, ha) there are so many cool tech accessories for families to help make those car trips a little smoother, and (dare I say it?) maybe even entirely whine-free.
The GripDaddy (above) is a smart tablet holder with an extendable arm that the kids will enjoy maneuvering for the perfect LEGO Movie viewing angle. It’s certainly come a long way from the early iPad car mounts we found years ago; this one is adjustable to fit an iPad, Surface, Galaxy or Kindle–and to top it off, nips any I can’t see! back seat protests in the bud. ($59.95)
With kids in the car, there’s not always time for we’re taking the scenic route, especially when you have a kid desperate for a rest stop. That’s one of the reasons the Waze app has been blowing up and we hardly navigate a trip without it any more. If you’re with us, check out this Kenu iPhone mount, a perfect gadget for the front seat passengers to keep us safe and hands-free. The Kenu attaches minimalistically to the car’s air vents and doesn’t create some huge protrusion on the car’s dash. It is designed for iPhones, but attaches to any vent at all. ($24.95)
Yes, there’s actually a way to free your kids from the tangled mess of wires when kids and headphones mix. These awesome Bluetooth headphones for kids will keep them wire-free and also give the front seat passengers some peace and quiet. Especially smart for tablet watching when the tablet isn’t in the kids’ laps. ($49.95)
Speaking of running out of juice, I try to avoid it by keeping a dedicated car charger in my vehicle at all times. This nifty dual charger from Tech Armor lets my husband and me plug in at the same time and avert any front seat power charging battles. (Yes, it’s not just the back seat we have to worry about on road trips.)
You have the iPad in the mount all ready for the movie to begin and…the 10% battery warning window pops up. Noooo! Having a portable charger is a savior for those moments. And kid vacations mean lots of picture-worthy moments anyway. The mophie is a great compact battery charger for any family travel adventure. It’s pricey, but it claims to be the longest lasting universal battery available right now, with the ability to charge two tablets at once fairly quickly. ($129.95)
How cool is this accessory that lets up to six users listen to the same thing? Bless you if you have that many backseat passengers stuffed into a minivan on a long car ride, and bless you further if you get them to agree on the same movie or album. In lieu of a Bluetooth headset, use the headphones you already have, and this inexpensive headphone splitter for a quick, easy solution. ($14.99)
Between the gadgets, gadget accessories, snacks, toys, DS cartridges, and whatever else your kids bring along, it’s nice to keep some semblance of organization back there. The Travel Pal serves as a holding place for all extraneous knick-knacks, gaming devices, headphones, and more. But what I like as a parent: it’s a pretty handy divider to help keep backseat passengers’ hands to themselves. Because heaven forbid one of them crosses that invisible line down the middle. ($10.50)