8 Clever Ways to Keep Your Kids Occupied During Family Road Trips

Noel Hendrickson/iStock via Getty Images
Noel Hendrickson/iStock via Getty Images

Tablets and smartphones have definitely revolutionized family road trips, but the age of “Are we there yet?” won’t truly end until someone invents teleportation. In the meantime, here are some creative ways to keep your kids occupied, organized, and entertained while you head over the river and through the woods this holiday season.

1. Create a clothespin countdown.

To reduce the number of logistical questions (including “Are we there yet?,” “Where are we?,” “When’s lunch?,” and “How much longer?”), run a string around the interior perimeter of your car and use clothespins to hang note cards that detail your itinerary. You can include state lines you expect to cross around certain times, activities you’ve planned for the car ride, and stops you’ll make along the way.

2. Buy some backseat organizers.

backseat organizer
Bearoy/Amazon

Instead of climbing all over the car in search of a certain stuffed animal or snack, keep everything in sight and reachable with these handy, pocket-filled organizers that strap to the seat backs. There’s even a special pocket for a tablet, so your kids don’t have to hold them while they watch.

Buy it on Amazon for $10. 

3. buy some travel trays.

carseat travel tray
Beloved Belongings/Amazon

These travel trays have special pockets for tablets and other items, but they also function as portable desks, so your kids don’t have to balance their books and snacks on their laps.

Buy it on Amazon for $20

4. Plan a game of road trip bingo.

road trip bingo
Regal Games/Amazon

If you really want to give your kids the quintessential road trip experience, bingo is the way to go. You can create your own game, tailored to what you think you’ll see along your particular route, or you can purchase a classic set with spaces like “barn,” “bridge,” and “airplane.”

Buy it on Amazon for $9.

5. Download kid-friendly audiobooks.

Tablets can be tiny, heaven-sent televisions, but sharing devices, headphones, and chargers between multiple people isn’t always as easy as you want it to be. Pressing play on a story that the whole family will enjoy is a perfect way to engage everyone at once—and if the kids help choose what to download beforehand, they’ll be more likely to get excited about listening. Tim Curry’s recording of Peter Pan is nothing short of enchanting, or you could try a more modern classic, like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, read by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Buy Peter Pan on Amazon for $18 and Aristotle and Dante on Amazon for $17. 

6. Listen to some podcasts.

Podcasts are another way to entertain the entire car, and the short episodes—ideal for those with limited attention spans—help break up a seemingly endless journey into segments. Check out this list of best kid-friendly podcasts for some ideas.

7. Invest in an erasable drawing board.

boogie board writing tablet
Boogie Board/Amazon

To keep yourself from finding long-lost crayons in your car crevices for years to come, treat each kid to a Boogie Board, an LCD writing tablet that erases with the touch of a button. They’re available in blue, pink, and black from Amazon.

Buy it on Amazon for $40. 

8. Print out “treasure” maps.

Plotting your route on actual printed maps will give kids a sense of progress (and a sneaky geography lesson). You can also identify landmarks along the path and, if you want to make it an actual treasure map, you can treat them to a surprise once you reach your destination—whether it’s an early gift from Santa or a slice of grandma’s chocolate cake.

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10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

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Amazon Customers Are Swearing by a $102 Mattress

Linenspa
Linenspa

Before you go out and spend hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars on a new mattress, you may want to turn to Amazon. According to Esquire, one of the most comfortable mattresses on the market isn’t from Tempur-Pedic, Casper, or IKEA. It’s a budget mattress you can buy on Amazon for as little as $102.

Linenspa's 8-inch memory foam and innerspring hybrid mattress has more than 24,000 customer reviews on Amazon, and 72 percent of those buyers gave it five stars. The springs are topped by memory foam and a quilted top layer that make it, according to one customer, a “happy medium of both firm and plush.”

A bare mattress from Linenspa in a bedroom
Linenspa

Perhaps because of its cheap price point, many people write that they first purchased it for their children or their guest room, only to find that it far exceeded their comfort expectations. One reviewer who bought it for a guest room wrote that “it is honestly more comfortable than the expensive mattress we bought for our room.” Pretty impressive for a bed that costs less than some sheet sets.

Getting a good night's sleep is vital for your health and happiness, so do yourself a favor and make sure your snooze is as comfortable as possible.

The mattress starts at $102 for a twin and goes up to $200 for a king. Check it out on Amazon.

[h/t Esquire]

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