In the summer of 2016, we decided to take a long road trip with our two small kids to go to California. This trip sticks out to me because it is the longest one we have ever taken as a family of four. We were so excited! Lots of sightseeing, a new area, and the kiddos on their first REAL Vacation! YAY!!! Four of us in the car just making our way to Sea World! What more could we ask for?
Now let me give you a little back story. At the time our daughter was 7 years old and our son was nearly 3 years old. He was a toddler, and partially potty trained (whew). Needless to say, keeping two kids entertained for a short period of time is doable but for an exhausting 16 hours was somewhat a challenge.
On the contrary, if you have ever met my husband, he is a traveler. He traveled most of our marriage for work. Not much anymore. But he is one to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. And that is what we did!
The Long Road Ahead
Prior to our journey to California, we had been a few places that had some distance to them with the kids. IE; Mountains, Denver (2 hours away), Craig (5 hours away), Farmington NM (5 hours away), and a few more.
As a mom of two, I will be the first to tell you that I am really NOT one to prepare much for anything. Although I am getting better. This time I felt like I was at least somewhat prepared!! YAY ME!!
If you have a toddler you know that toddlers don’t just on command sleep. At least mine didn’t. He would fight me each time he would nap! Oh, the agony! Do you know when they are babies the engine to the car just LuLL’s them to sleep? YES!!! He slept quite a bit!
Fast forward to the actual 16-hour trek across the country that went rather well. Yes, 16 hours!! We hadn’t really thought about our journey prior to the day it arrived as mentioned I was fairly prepared. I will share with you those secrets later.
Going the Distance
The distance was roughly 1000 miles from Colorado (where we live) to California (where we were headed). At a glance, we were looking at over 16 hours as mentioned. So inside my head, I’m thinking ok this will be a ton of fun! It is going to fly by and before I know it we will get there!
It did fly by… somewhat. Not like grueling 16 hours but we made pit stops and stuff which were super fun! Just like the other trips we had taken!
I incorporated what I had learned from those trips and enhanced what worked and it became the smoothest 16 hours. Because I was prepared.
When I mention planning ahead, I mean this trip to California was on our calendar for roughly 6 months prior to our departure date. So in all actuality, we had plenty of time to get stuff together. If you ever get stuck on planning just start writing things down.
I made a huge list of everything that was needed for our trip and I started at the top and worked my way down. This was like 2 weeks in advance. You can get my List of Must-Haves Here!
The first item we purchased was for the organization. If you’re new to traveling with young kids, surviving a 16 plus hour road trip without organization is just not possible. Yes, things get strewn about and kids have tantrums which lead to messes on the car floor, etc. Cause you know Kids will be kids.
But, if you have a method to your madness it is much easier to harness the accidents.
Why is this organizer so Amazing?
Enter in the backseat organizer. One awesome organization tool (if you will) at its finest! It is called the High Road Organizer for Kids.
The organizer is super lightweight and compact that it fits right in the middle of the seat without difficulty. This item is so easy to use and set up. You can even zip it up and put the strap on and carry it to have a picnic!
It has tons of different functions but my favorite was that it can be used as a cooler! You can store drinks inside and snacks for the kids right in the back seat. OH gosh, should I go on?? WHY YES!!
It has several storage pockets, 4 on each side to be exact, that you can load with stuff like crayons, wipes, a tablet charger, and several other items you can check out my must-have list here!
The High Road Organizer also holds two drinks and serves as a drink holder. The coolest thing I liked was the option for a snack tray with the flip-top lid! We used the snack tray several times when stopping for meals.
This organizer tops my list because it is so versatile and functional and can be used for other reasons other than in the car.
The capacity of the cooler can hold several drinks and functions as a snack holder as well if you use the divider. You can’t go wrong with this super easy, functional, and affordable Organizer for the car ride!
DVD Player for Road Trip
Now before I stumble on my words here I will tell you that the majority of our car rides we watch movies. Kids love movies, especially new ones (they are expensive right?). I think we even stopped at a Walmart in Arizona to buy a couple more movies cause the kids were out of stuff to watch (again super expensive).
I don’t know about you but, our kids are generally limited on-screen time. We have a set limit that they can watch daily, sometimes weekly, depending on the mood around the house.
Prior to my thinking about what the kids will do for 16 hours, my mind was racing with coloring activities, drawing, car games, etc. Leave it to my extremely smart and talented hubby to come up with the purchase of a DVD player. Nowadays I don’t even think people buy DVD’s anymore, or at least rarely.
And why would you when you can just download a movie to a tablet or just plug in your Roku stick or Amazon fire stick and binge your faves. But back 4 years ago in 2016, Roku was just barely coming out so we had an abundance of DVD’s Which made a huge difference.
The Best Dual DVD Player
So if you have two kids you will know that each child likes and dislikes certain things. Or if your kids are anything like my kids, they each want what the other has. On that note, I highly recommend that you get two DVD players, one for each headrest. Hence, to cease the fighting that still may or may not happen! I highly recommend these!
Not really known for the name but I am going to attempt to spell it for ya NAVISKAUTO 10.1″ Dual Car DVD Players with 2 Headphones. I have never heard of this company before but having read all of the reviews (over 200 of them) I realized that it might be worth spending the money for them.
Aside from the kids tablets these were awesome and can even hook up to apps on your phone! Who would have thought? The kids can even learn as we were driving.
RELATED Content: The Best Learning Apps for kids that encourage reading.
What does it come with?
Sure enough, we were not disappointed. These DVD players come with EVERYTHING, and I mean everything you need for a day of DVD watching! The NAVISKAUTO has a large screen on it at 10.1″. It even has a great picture and supports 1080P video.
On top of that, it has a place on the convenient side of the DVD so parents can change the DVD when needed. Two Kids can watch two different movies or the same movie at the same time! WOW! I love it! Here are a few other things that are noteworthy about this DVD Player:
- Rechargeable battery
- Last Place marker memory
- 2 in 1 car charger
- headphones for both screens
- IR remote controls x2
- Can Sync to phones, tablets, XBOX, with HDMI cord
- Anti Skip Technology
- 2 Headrest mounts (very sturdy)
To say the least I am a huge fan of this DVD player. It lasted the entire road trip, we had no trouble getting anything on it to work and it hooked up to the car Easily! This one is a score for us and definitely will be for you also! NAVISKAUTO 10.1″ Dual Car DVD Player for the win!
Road Trip Car Activities and Games
I can remember when my parents would take us on road trips, which was honestly not that often. Back in the 90’s we didn’t have much but we did have CAR GAMES! We always had that go-to game “padiddle” or the “I SPY” game. We always found something to do.
What would a car ride be without games? Imagination is key when it comes to creating activities for the kiddos. My parents always would pack crayons and coloring books regardless. But I figured hmmm… why not change it up a bit. I found that there are so many games and activity books, that are just for long road trips! Check it out!
The Best Activity Book
First I highly recommend getting a busy book or the Mom I’m Bored Book. This book caught me with its title and totally fixes the “I’m bored” comments. I love this type of activity pad because even if you have a toddler there are tons of things in this that they can do.
There are mazes, coloring activities, stickers, connect the dots, and so on! It keeps kids busy for quite a long time. It has 22 different activities and comes with a dry erase pen also. Let me just say, my kids, played with theirs even after we got home. WINNING!
License Plate Game
When I was little my grandparents would drive around in town with us and we would count license plates from out of state. For each one, we got a point and whoever had the most by the time we got back home would get a huge BANANA Split!
So needless to say I usually won! This was a favorite past time of mine and I will forever remember it.
I was actually surprised to find that someone, somewhere, had made up an awesome game called the License Plate Game! How perfect!!
This game was so much fun! We nearly got all 50 states on the map that is in it. I am sure we would have surpassed the 30 we did get in 16 hours if we would have driven a little longer.
The game itself comes with a United States Map, stickers and a dry erase marker so you can replay the game if you run out of License plates! I’d like to know if anyone has ever gotten to all 50 states? The License Plate Game is well worth your money and will create tons of memories as it did for me.
I have saved the best for last for a reason. Busy bags are amazing! And if you haven’t seen these before they are worth every penny. Although some people create them themselves, I felt like what I spent on the Busy Bag itself was comparable to what I would have spent at the store.
If you are crafty that is awesome and I applaud the moms that can make them! As for me, purchasing a ready-made bag was so beneficial and it was particular to what my kids liked.
On to the contents of a SUPER AWESOME! Busy Bag! This bag is packed with everything a toddler or kid would love! My son at the age of 3 loved anything from crayons to play doh, to cars. And he would play with it all.
So when I saw this bag I knew it would be perfect. The cool thing is, you can buy it for girls also and it comes in pink! They have two different themes for each. Check out the list of everything that comes in it! And the bag is packed to the gills!
- Coloring/Activity Book (80+pgs),
- Mini Chalkboard w/ Chalk and Eraser
- 1 Stickerbook
- 24 Crayons
- reusable WaterWow book
- Play Dough, 5 Play Dough Shape Cutters
- Lap Board
- a toy (Boys bags contain a 3-car pack & girls bags contain 1 pony)
Now if that doesn’t sound like nearly everything we would buy from the store than I don’t know what does! Especially for probably a fraction of the price!
The End Result
This was our first very long trip with our kids and it turned out great! There was a lot of sleeping on the way from both of them and the DVD player worked fabulously. We stopped several times along the way for gas, goodies, grub, and to stretch. We even made it in a Whopping 14.5 hours!!
WOOHOO! The kids we ecstatic about the Busy Bags and enjoyed them the whole way home as well!
Having only mentioned five of our top must-haves for our long trek with our two kids. We definitely packed more than this and some of the items I did not mention.
But if you need help with a packing list we have created one for you that we generally abide by when we travel and we plan on taking many more trips with this list in mind!
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