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Family vacations are supposed to be fun, but in between the packing, traveling, and breaking up fights from the kids, sometimes it can seem more stress than it’s worth. I totally get it! With three boys ages 5 and under, I’ve had my fair share of chaotic travel experiences. Airport vomit, backseat hitting, seemingly endless screaming — it’s all part of being a parent! But one thing that has helped me? Splurging on a few travel essentials before the trip to make vacations so much more enjoyable.
It starts with the right gear. You don’t want to head out without a way to strap in the baby (or their toys!) or electronics for your toddlers and older kids. But there’s other things you may not think of, like lap desks with tons of pockets to keep your child’s things organized or portable highchairs that will also keep babies safe in the sand.
Another thing you don’t want to skip out on? Keeping your kids entertained with fun games! There’s only so much music they can listen to or toys they can play with before they get bored and restless (which is not a place you want them to be on vacation). Apple Arcade offers over 200 games for all ages, which kids can play on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac while in the car — or waiting in line or waiting for food or waiting for anything, period. Check out a few of our favorite games, plus 9 other ways to make your summer vacation a breeze.
Car Seat Organizer Kids Travel Tray
Keeping kids organized in the car may be an impossible goal (just look at our gross floorboards for confirmation!), but you can help them a little with this genius car seat organizer. It has tons of pockets for water bottles, toys, crayons, and snacks, plus a tablet holder and a flat surface for playing. When you aren’t using it, you can fold it up neatly to make carrying it on a plane or even easier.Car Seat Organizer Kids Travel Tray $30.99
A fun yet simple game is exactly what you want for a car ride. In Snake.io+, players start their journey as a small snake who must eat pellets or other snakes to grow. The biggest snake will secure their place on the top of the leaderboard. The longer players survive, the longer they stay at the top, and the closer they are to beating the high score.
Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base
Babies come with so many accessories, it can make traveling with one a logistics nightmare. That’s why we are obsessed with the Doona car seat. It buckles into the car like a regular car seat, then pops out into a stroller in seconds (without even waking your baby up!). It’s perfect for traveling by plane, train, car, or anywhere.
Found It! Travel Game
When kids get bored of the License Plate Game or I Spy, pull out the Found It! Travel Game from Skillmatics. Designed for ages 4-7, this fun game encourages kids to spot unique things out the window, like “something that grows” or the number “6.” It’s simple and entertaining — the best type of road trip game!
Cooking Mama: Cuisine!
Kids can put on their virtual aprons and show off their mad kitchen skills with Cooking Mama: Cuisine! on Apple Arcade. This super fun game teaches kids how to prepare slice tomatoes, sauté onions, flip burgers, and more. It’s sure to keep them entertained during travel (and maybe a little hungry, too).
JetKids by Stokke Travel Toddler Bed in a Box
Traveling light feels impossible when you have kids, but this travel toddler bed makes it much easier. It’s a lightweight suitcase that can fit their essentials inside, but it also folds out with a mattress so kids can sleep. This is especially great if you’re stuck at the airport for unexpected flight delays!
But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
If you’re so over your child asking, “Are we there yet?”, you can encourage them to start asking, “But why?” And the best part is, you don’t have to know the answer! On But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, kids ask questions — “How do water slides work?” “Why are sloths slow?” — and the hosts find the answers. The fun and educational podcast is sure to keep kids interested and engaged on long car rides, and you might even learn a thing or two yourself. If your child thinks of a question along the way, they can record an audio message and submit it to the show for a chance to have their question answered.
Toy Safety Straps
Keep toys, teeters, snack cups, and pacifiers safe from bored babies with these silicone straps! Clip one side to their car seat or stroller and the other to their toy so they can find it again when they inevitably drop it.
Keep older kids engaged with Wylde Flowers, an Apple Arcade game designed for ages 12 and up. Help grandma tend the farm, learn how to practice magic, make friends, and explore the cozy town of Fairhaven in this unique app.
Ergobaby Omni Breeze Baby Carrier
Whether you’re going hiking or going to Disneyland, you’ll want to pack a lightweight baby carrier. Trust me, you’ll need it! The Ergobaby Omni Breeze is made with a breathable mesh to keep you and baby cool for all-day wear. Plus, it can hold toddlers up to 45 pounds, so you can give your back a break even if you have older babies!
Nuby Easy Go Booster Seat
Strap your kids in at a restaurant booth or the beach with this convenient portable booster seat. It clips on to a chair or sits up on its own with a waist harness to keep little ones contained.
Disney Getaway Blast+ (Gameloft)
Disney Getaway Blast+ is a top-notch travel companion. Your child’s favorite Disney and Pixar characters go on vacation at the same time as your family, and it doesn’t get much better than that. As players complete puzzles, they can restore and design vacation islands (fun!) and meet travel buddies like Stitch and Elsa (jealous!).
Skip Hop Baby Feeding Travel Set
Keep a variety of snacks on hand for toddlers with this Skip Hop travel set. It comes with three stackable snack containers, a sippy cup, and a travel bowl and spoon. It packs in the diaper bag for easy on-the-go eating.
LEGO Builder’s Journey
Unless your kids are older — or just super careful — LEGOs may not be the best travel toy. Luckily, this virtual LEGO game can fulfill their need to build, and it’s fun for kids as young as age 4! This Apple Arcade game will keep kids entertained on long car rides as they create virtual worlds with LEGO bricks.
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