If you haven't looked at them, they are worth peeking at, especially for kids under 10. Amazon will replace it, no questions asked, for 2 years. So if they drop it, drown it, run it over- as long as you have a kindle to return, they will send you a new one. It comes with a case that I was a little skeptical about but it seems to work great! The Kindle comes with a year of FreeTime as well (my favorite part). FreeTime has 100's of books and apps they can choose and load onto their kindle for free AND you get to set limits on the electronics! So, if you want them to read for an hour before they have app access, then apps for 30 minutes, then back to books, you get to set it up that way! It makes me feel like we aren't ruining them on electronics, because they are mostly reading books! They love it because they get to have control and don't have to share with each other during Kindle time.
Don't forget headphones for each of them as well. We just found $5 headphones in the Dollar Section of Target. They cover the whole ear and have pretty decent sound quality. I feel like if they last even just a month or two they will have done a great job for that price! You can also get kiddo headphones on Amazon too for the little guys.
7. Redbox baby.
I can't rent from Redbox when we are at home, because inevitably I forget we've had it for 4 days, and by that point I may as well have bought the darn thing anyhow... But when we are on the road, it's a total God-Send!
I love that you can rent a movie, watch it as you drive and return it anywhere. No need to keep track of a disc for the whole trip (that's asking for it to get scratched or lost in our world)- just rent, watch, return. You can find them all over the place!
We just got our first car with a built in DVD player- but before that we used 2 of the 2-screen Portable DVD players that attach to headrests- these are the ones we liked, we snagged them on Craigslist, and I suggest checking there first, because often people use them for 1 road trip and then sell them!
8. Entertainment boxes
The Kindle and a couple movies will get a few hours, but there are still spaces I like to fill with other options. I know some opt to put the entertainment box (or busy boxes) next to the kids to sift through at their leisure, but one thing I've learned about my kids is given the opportunity to have a lot of new things at once, they will be overwhelmed and subsequently only enjoy each thing for 15 minutes *max* and then be seeking something else.
So our entertainment box is a slow leak. They kind of have a check out system, have an item or two, trade out for something else. It minimizes the mess in the car, and draws out how long they play with something.
We always have coloring books, and learned the hard way think Texas-in-the-summer that crayons are a bad idea. We do colored pencils for the big kids, and Color Wonder for the little ones. We also splurge on Usborne books/activity books (yay end of school book fair!) that I hide away until the trip- they have some of the coolest books for older kids, we love the Write your Own series- Storybook, Comics, Adventure Story (you can check them out here, but I'm sure they're on Amazon too)- I'll warn you though- their books are amazing and made for all ages- it's hard not to want them all! We also try to pack a clean craft that can keep hands and eyes busy. There are tons of age appropriate options at Target or Joann/Hobby Lobby.
9. Pick 1 meal to eat out
Part of going new places is trying new things, right? One thing my kids look forward to on a road trip is the 1 meal out we choose during a drive day. In fact, they will hold it together through those rough hours of the day where they are starting to get antsy and tired for the promise of that treat (which is why it is on the list, of course!) We try to pick something we can't get here at home, that also offers the opportunity to move around a bit.
I don't like to eat out for every meal, mostly because I would rather spend trip money in other ways- so we pack breakfast and lunch food in the cooler and typically opt for a dinner out. Better yet is when we can grab it and head to a park for a picnic and play before we hit the road again. Dinner is one of our bigger stops usually- we plan around a full hour of movement for the kids before we try to get in another 4-5 hours of driving in. It is important to make it a positive stop so that final stretch for the day isn't complete torture for all parties!
10. Prize Box
I have a prize box for my family sessions, so kiddos can pick something special after our photo session as a reward for playing through their pictures with me, and for not making their mommy and daddy lose their minds. I realized as my kids drooled over the goodies in there that they weren't allowed to touch, that I could probably get the same results for my kids if they had a little motivation to earn a prize during our trip. So, the Prize Box came to be.