For many parents, grandparents and other relatives, having the kids in the car on a long journey can be stressful. Here are some of our recommendations on what you will need to keep them entertained and keep you happy until you arrive at your destination.
Gadgets & Gizmos
Tablet - If you or your child own a tablet then you are already halfway there. Make sure you load it up with their favourite films, TV episodes, books and games. If you are looking to buy a tablet there are many out there that won’t break the bank, including the Amazon Fire tablet 7”. Currently under £50, the tablet is available with either a 7GB or 16GB memory plus a microSD slot that allows you to add up to 200GB of additional storage. The tablet has a quad-core processor which allows quick application launch and smooth play on games and videos. The battery offers up to 7 hours of mixed use life so, providing it is fully charged, it should last on most car journeys. It is available in a range of colours suitable for all.
Portable games consoles – There are many portable games consoles available including the LeapFrog and LeapPad family tablets, Vtech InnoTab, the Nintendo DS Family and the Sony PlayStation Vita. Rather than having to carry around a case load of games cartridges why not get a handheld multi-game console that can be passed around the car so you can try to beat each other’s high score.
DVD Player - The Nextbase SDV48AC is a 7” twin tablet DVD player and ideal for those with more than one rear passenger. There will be no arguments over what to watch as two films can be watched independently or one film can be shared across both players. Each DVD player has a 7 inch screen, USB port, SD card reader and is compatible with a range of disc formats. The battery will last for around 2 hours, but the system is supplied with a mains and 12v car charger. The DVD players can be controlled via a remote, so there will be no wiggling around trying to press buttons, and a car mounting system is also included. So there is no arguing over volume, both DVD players have an earphone jack. There are also single model DVD players and various different screen sizes available depending on your in-car entertainment needs.
As you would at home, remember to have the little ones take a break from their tablet, handheld console or DVD player every so often to rest their eyes.
Car WIFI - If your tablet has a sim card and you are already on a data plan then great. Providing you have a signal, your passengers can use the internet to their hearts’ content. For those who can’t survive a journey without the internet there are a couple of options. Some mobile providers are now offering a device that you can plug into the 12v socket in your car so that you can connect all your devices via WIFI. These are usually available on pay monthly and pay as you go options. Alternatively, if you are thinking about buying a new car, OnStar from Vauxhall can be used to create a WIFI hotspot. Supporting up to 7 devices, OnStar uses a roof antenna to connect to high speed internet services. WIFI hotspot data packages can be purchased after your free trial has ended.
In Car Charger - There are many in-car chargers available to keep your tech going on the journey but the Belkin Road Rockstar is ideal for all the family. This 4-port passenger car charger allows both front and rear passengers to charge the gizmos simultaneously. The charger can be plugged in to the front cigarette lighter where it has two USB ports. A 6-foot cable allows the extendable hub, with two additional USB ports, to reach the back seat passengers. The hub can be clipped onto the backseat pocket to avoid accidentally standing on it or removal of cables.
CD/DVD Holder - Rather than filling the car full of DVD and CD boxes, why not get a DVD wallet that holds multiple discs.
Headphones - There are a wide range of headphones available specifically designed for kids, including designs with their favourite characters on them. We would always recommend buying headphones specifically designed for children because many of them have a maximum decibel level of 85, which is recommended by the many health organisations. With children’s headphones, the head piece is specifically designed for smaller heads, they tend to be fit over the ears instead of in the ear and they are quite often more robust. For particularly small children we would recommend investing in a pair of wireless headphones. These are usually connected to a device via Bluetooth and can be recharged, allowing your child to listen to entertainment without lots of wires. Experts recommend that time spent through headphones should be limited to 2 hours per day for both adults and children.
Headphone splitter – This can quite often be a saviour of sanity. If some people want to listen to “The Wheels on the Bus” for the 15th time and you don’t, then multiple pairs of headphones can be plugged in to a single device for the kids to enjoy themselves whilst you enjoy the silence.
Headrest mount - If you or the kids already have gadgets such as a portable DVD player or tablet, then you may want to purchase a headrest mount. There are a wide variety available out there, just make sure that the one you buy is compatible with your device.
Power Bank - If you do not have one, it may be worth investing in a portable charger, such as the RAVPower 2 6800mAh 3-Port 5.5A Portable Charger, which can charge an iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy S6 over six times. It features three USB ports, meaning you can charge 3 items at once with a 5.5A highest output charge. The charger itself is only slightly larger than most mobile phones and so ideal for charging whilst on the move.
Batteries - If your gadget takes regular batteries then don’t forget to stock up on them before you set off.
Cables - There would be nothing worse than setting off, remembering your device and charger but forgetting the cable. We recommend buying a spare to keep in the car for long journeys or emergencies!
Now everyone is strapped in and ready to go, enjoy your journey!
Not wanting to take all your digital equipment with you? Then take a look at part two of our traveling with kids recommendations.