As a family we have been embracing the humble road trip as our preferred family holiday/vacation, particularly over the past 12 months. But ensuring the family road trip is a success comes down to keeping the kids safe, comfortable and entertained for long car journey. Achieving this is all about the kids car accessories that you include when preparing your car for the long drive ahead.
To help you choose which car accessories for kids will be the best for you I have put this list of family car accessories together focusing on all age groups from babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school age kids. Plus, you’ll discover why you would want each item, along with the pros and cons for each piece of equipment.
In this Article on the Best Car Accessories for Kids Learn About
- Safety items
- Getting the kids comfortable in the car
- Keeping the children entertained
- Kids car organisers
- How to keep the car clean
- Being prepared for toileting mishaps
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19 Essential Kids Car Accessories
Keeping the Kids Safe
1. Car Seats
Many of you will be heading off on a road trip with your own car which means you will probably have the appropriate car seat for your baby, toddler or young child.
However, if you have flown to your destination and then hired a car don’t forget to also hire the appropriate baby car seat or booster seat. I have heard many people complain about the cleanliness of car hire car seats, so as an alternative you can hire a car seat from a baby hire company, the stock they supply is usually clean, good quality and meets the country’s car seat regulations.
Or you can take your own baby car seat or booster seat as luggage on the flight. You can even have your child sit in the car seat on the flight. But you will need to pre-book this with your airline before your departure date.
2. Car Seat Travel Bag
If you are flying to your destination before heading off on your road trip and taking your child’s car seat as luggage. Help keep it clean whilst it is in the luggage hold with a car seat travel bag*.
Several years ago we had a car that included an additional mirror – next to the rear vision mirror that would flip down so that the driver (and passenger) could watch the kids without having to turn around or move the rear vision mirror.
This meant that we didn’t have to take our eyes off the road by twisting to look back whilst driving. The child car mirror works just like your rear vision mirror. It was also really handy if our son was asleep and we wanted to check on him without making any sudden jolting movements that would cause him to wake.
If your car doesn’t come with one you can buy an additional car mirror* that attaches to the sun visor or one that mounts via a suction cup onto the windscreen*. For something a bit flashier you could choose a baby car camera* that films and displays in real-time to a small monitor (about the size of your mobile phone) that is mounted to the dash.
Keeping Kids Comfortable in the Car
Now that your child is all safe and sound, let’s get them comfortable with some specific car stuff for kids.
4. Seat Belt Strap Protector
The most important thing when you are on a road trip with kids is to have them strapped into their seat in the appropriate car seat for their age. But the straps on the car seats or the regular car strap used with a booster seat can rub and cut into your child’s neck.
So, I found that seat belt strap protectors* are an essential baby car accessory that will be used for many more years. The belt strap protectors come in a two-pack and are made of a soft fabric that wraps around the seat belt which easily slides up and down the belt to fit where your child needs the protection.
5. Travel Pillow
Go one step further for older kids with a cushioned pillow version*. Kids often nod off to sleep during long car drives and this pillow that wraps around the car seat belt will prevent your child’s head from twisting in an odd position.
Alternatively, you can go with a more traditional travel pillow (child size)* that wraps around the neck and will of course be also useful for flights and train trips.
6. Travel Blanket
As you know when you nod off to sleep your body temperature drops. Keep the kids (or you) warm with a plush compact lightweight travel blanket*. These travel blankets that I found fold up into a soft bag that can be strapped onto your luggage, hung from the back of the car seat for easy access or you can even use them as a small pillow.
7. Side Window Sunshade
Glaring sun coming in through the side windows can not only be a discomfort when the kids are trying to sleep but also cause sunburn. You may think that this is just a car essential for baby, but we have found they are still really useful for our young teen.
Side window sunshades come in a variety of styles and over the years we have tried them all out. To me, the best sidecar sunshade is the sock version*. The mesh covering fits over the top of your car door enveloping the entire read window, thus preventing the sun from getting through any gaps. When purchasing this style of sunshade, you will need to review the size and shape of the sock style shade to ensure it fits your car.
Another style of sunshade that we had included with one car was a roller blind. These roller blinds* are handy if you want to easily remove the shade to make it easier for your child to see out.
The final version is a twist foldable shade* that sticks to the window. The benefit of these is that you can move them about the car as needed, but I find the sun does sneak through the gaps.
Top Trip Tip: When choosing which version of the sunshade is best for you think about how you will cope whilst you are driving
Best Road Trip Toys
Now that the kids are comfortable let’s keep them entertained so that you stay sane without the constant cries of “I’m bored!” and “Are we there yet?”
Toys and activities for road trips need to be compact, offer variety and don’t have too many small parts that can fall off.
8. Hanging Toys
The best car toys for babies are hanging car toys so that they don’t fall on the floor. Choose one that can be pulled down and winds back up and offers a variety of textures to touch and see. You could also include a few plush baby books but be prepared that they are likely to be thrown to the floor for the fun of watching you do a contortionist act of retrieving the items from the depths of the car floor. To prevent the toys from reaching the floor attach the toy to the car with toy link rings*.
9. Activity Books
Once kids get a bit older, I am a big fan of activity and sticker books* with coloured pencils or crayons (not felt markers – I don’t need to be cleaning that off). There are lots of options available to meet your child’s interests.
10. Big Kid Car Games
Check out more…
Kids Car Organiser
To keep all these travel toys for car rides organised and accessible you may like to have a car seat toy holder. They come in several different versions, so let’s run through the pros and cons of them.
11. Back Seat Organiser
A back seat organiser* straps to the back of the driver’s and passenger’s seats. It provides lots of pockets to place books, pencils, toys, snacks and water bottles. The benefit of this organiser is that the seats remain free for up to three children or for the kids to stretch out. However, your child will need to be big enough to reach over to the seatback organiser to retrieve and replace the items.
Some car seat organisers come with a tray* providing your child with essentially a small table to work or play, a bit like on a plane.
While another car seat organiser comes with a tablet holder* to keep the kids entertained. Alternatively, you could purchase a separate car iPad mount* that attaches to the headrest and can be angled so all the children in the back can see the show.
12. Middle Seat Organiser
If you would prefer that the kids have easier access to all their activities, snacks and water and you don’t have a third child a middle seat organiser* could be the answer. Some of the car organisers are designed with lots of compartments so that you can organise the kids’ stuff.
As I only have one child, we work on this system but instead use a child’s carry-on luggage bag*. Then once we arrive at our destination, we zip the bag back up and my son wheels his activity bag into our accommodation.
Top Trip Tip: By using the carry-on bag as the organiser saves on costs as it can be used for both road trips and flights
13. Travel Tray
If you liked the idea of the travel tray on the seat back organiser but weren’t keen on having it attached to the car seat you can get collapsible travel trays that the kids can use instead. The travel trays* include pockets for toys and snacks sitting hovered across your child’s lap.
Top Trip Tip: With the carry strap it can be easily carried for picnics and to campsites
Keeping the Car Clean
With all these snacks and activities happening in the car there is bound to be a mess.
14. Car Seat Protector
Particularly where your child is sitting. To protect your car upholstery from the baby car seat or booster a car seat protector* provides a barrier between the two. It not only prevents damage to the car upholstery but stops crumbs from falling into the cracks of the car seats.
The car seat protectors are padded for comfort and often come with a couple of mesh pockets. While others come in a combo pack with a padded seat back organiser* to prevent your child from kicking and marking the back of the car seats.
15. Rubbish Bin
Meanwhile, rubbish will often be handed back to you. Place a compact car rubbish bin* that can hang off the console in the middle of the car. Everyone can access it to keep the car clean.
16. Travel Sick Bags
But one thing you can’t control is travel sickness. Some kids and adults don’t cope well with long road trips. Whilst you may already be aware of this issue, sometimes it sneaks up. A baby or toddler that once slept and travelled well for long distances suddenly becomes ill.
Our son, travelled well as a toddler but once he reached pre-school, he really suffered from travel sickness, and then he outgrew the travel sickness as he got older.
And then let’s not forget that they could have caught a stomach bug or eaten something that disagreed with them.
So it’s best to be prepared with a few travel-sick bags. You can buy specific travel-sick bags* or just use zip-lock bags. Travel sick bags have a twist and lock mechanism to contain the offending stuff and a zip lock bag, well, zips up.
Top Trip Tip: To help combat travel sickness open the windows and stick to plain biscuits
17. Tissue Holder
You’ll also want some tissue on hand to quickly clean up any spills and wipe your child your child’s face. Tissue packets are lightweight so to help anchor them use a car tissue holder* anchored to your sun visor which ensures they are within easy reach for you to help. Plus the tissue holder also comes with hooks to keep your face masks handy.
Top Trip Tip: You could also place a pack of baby wipes or antiseptic wipes in the tissue holder
Toilet Training Car Accessories
The final mishap that can happen when you have babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers with toileting issues. Kids are notorious for not going when you ask them to go before you leave home. We, along with many other parents have had to pull over on the side of the road with cars whizzing by to have a toilet break.
18. Portable Potty
For boys, it is a little bit easier, but for young girls learning to manage the squat can be tricky, a potty just makes it so much easier. But they can be bulky in the back of your car with the rest of your travel gear.
So you may like to invest in a folding travel potty*, they come in a range of colours. This will also be really handy for any midnight calls for the ablution block when you are camping.
19. Toilet Training Car Seat Protector
And just in case you don’t manage to pull the car over in time a padded toilet training car seat protector* may be a worthwhile investment.
Finish preparing your car with this…
As you can see there are a variety of car accessories for children. They are all designed to help keep you child safe, comfortable, organised and entertained thus ensuring that the entire family arrives at your road trip destination safely and in one piece.
To complete your preparation for your road trip, check out all our road trip tip articles:
- A road trip planning guide
- Safety tips for road trips
- Fun ideas for family road trips
- Road trip packing list
- Road trip car accessories for kids
- Self-catering packing list
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