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.

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.

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.

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/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 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Warby Parker Created a Spray to Prevent Your Glasses From Fogging Up When You Wear a Face Mask

They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
Julian Wan, Unsplash

A face mask won’t keep you from getting enough oxygen, but it might keep you from seeing clearly through your glasses. When you exhale, your warm breath usually dissipates into the air in front of you. When you’re wearing a face mask, on the other hand, it gets funneled through the gaps around your nose and turns into tiny water droplets after colliding with your much colder lenses. In other words, it fogs up your glasses.

To prevent this from happening, Warby Parker has created an anti-fog spray that absorbs those droplets as soon as they form on your lenses, before they can cloud your view. It’s not the only product like it on the market—Amazon alone has dozens—but Warby Parker’s version has the added benefit of cleaning your lenses, too.

The perfect solution.Warby Parker

As Prevention.com reports, the spray is part of the company’s “Clean My Lenses Kit,” which comes with a bottle of anti-fog spray, a microfiber cloth, and a pouch for your glasses (or for storing the other two products in the kit). All you do is spritz both sides of your lenses, wipe them down with the cloth, and venture out for your fog-free day.

The spray works with any type of lens, which makes it a useful innovation even for people who just wear regular sunglasses. It can also come in handy during plenty of other fog-inducing situations, like sipping a hot beverage or cooking over a hot stove.

You can order a kit online for $15, or look for one in your local Warby Parker store. In the meantime, here are a few DIY ways to keep your glasses from getting foggy.

[h/t Prevention.com]

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