You and your family have been itching to hit the open road since your last vacation. Bags are packed, the car has a full gas tank, and your smartphones and tablets are charged and ready to go. As you go down your road trip checklist, there are travel must-haves that you may not have considered as you fit one more bottle of sunblock in your bag. These are the road trip essentials for every vacation – especially if you're going on a road trip with kids.
- Flip Down DVD Player: This handy device can save the driver and front-seat passenger's sanity. An overhead DVD player can keep back-seat passengers entertained for hours, and you don't have to rely on batteries or cables to keep a device charged. Just pack some of your kids' favorite DVDs and wireless headphones for some much-needed peace and quiet during a road trip. Some flip down DVD players also include inputs to let you plug in gaming systems so your travelers in the back can play games when they tire of watching movies.
- Snacks: Of course, you and your traveling crew are going to get hungry on the road. If you pack snacks – especially filling and nutritious ones – you can stop less and get to your destination faster. Apples, nuts and protein bars are excellent choices to keep tummies full, and you can avoid spending extra money on junk food or greasy fast food.
- Road Map: Most of us rely on our smartphones with GPS to guide us to our destinations, but if you travel through rural areas or your battery dies while you're charging other devices, you need may need access to an atlas. Traditional maps are good to have on hand, but you can also print out directions before you leave.
- USB Dual Car Charger: These are essential when you're traveling and have more than one device to charge. Just plug it into your car charger, and you get two USB plugs so the driver and front-seat passenger can charge phones simultaneously.
- Duct Tape: All jokes aside, duct tape can save a road trip disaster. A tear in a suitcase, a handle break and other minor issues can be temporarily resolved with duct tape. When you stay at a hotel, you may find the curtains don't close all the way, but a roll of duct tape can help keep the light out.
- First Aid Kit: You never know what could happen out on the open road. When you're trying to figure out what to bring on a road trip, this should be at the top of your list. Fill it with antiseptic, bandages, antibiotic ointment, medication and other first aid essentials.
- Pillows and Blankets: One of the best naps you can take is on the road. The mesmerizing hum of the tires on the road, quiet kids in the back watching movies on the flip down DVD player, and comforting pillows and blankets are all you need.
Perhaps the most important part of a road trip, though, is the company. Bring your family or friends to experience the open road, the fun destinations and the journey all the way there.