“Are we there yet?” on repetition can be hugely annoying on a road trip. Some of the same tactics I recommend for flying with kids can be also used in the car. I tire easily of the verbal games, such as “I spy,” especially if I’m driving, and am constantly on the look-out for products and games that will help insure a more or less silent car. Here are some.

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1. TrayKit (pictured above): Invented by a British mom, the TrayKit is making its debut in the USA. It’s a carry-on backpack that unfolds into a tray. Strap it to car seats and airplane tray tables to provide a flat surface with flaps that prevent crayons and toys from falling on the ground. The TrayKit traveler also includes a book that we used on our last trip to count how many boats, taxis, trains, and planes we took. It acts as a small scrapbook where kids can chronicle their journey. It also wipes clean easily in case the kids want to snack on it. If you don’t have a TrayKit, kids can balance an old rimmed baking sheet on their laps.

2. Kid-safe headphones: Plug them into Tag Readers, iPods, iPads and more so that you don’t have to listen to whatever they’ve got playing. We have been happy with Kidz Gear Wired Headphones and they do have a lifetime warranty. Ours have been through a lot and recently have started not transmitting iPad sound that well. We’ve gotten well over $20 worth of use out of them over the years. However, they do have a limited lifetime warranty that I’ll investigate, but we were given a complimentary pair of JLab JBuddies. My daughter prefers these because they’re pretty and seem to work well.

3. LeapFrog Reading System: Designed for kids 4–8, the LeapFrog LeapReader helps kids learn to read via reading entertaining stories to them. This has provided La Jolla Girl with hours of entertainment in planes, trains, and automobiles. Plug some headphones into the Tag Reader and enjoy the silence.

4. One-piece puzzles: Try the old favorite, Rubik’s cube, or a Tangle.

5. Mad Libs: Another old favorite, Mad Libs, can keep kids who can read engaged in word games that also help them learn sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary. Plus, these travel games for kids are lightweight and portable.

6. Stickers: Sticker books and sticker help keep kids entertained (also lifesavers for flying with kids).

7. Little presents to avoid meltdowns: This works like a charm on the plane. Find inexpensive gifts and wrap them in multiple layers. Kids love the process and the surprise. It resets their moods.

8. Electronics: Portable DVD player, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Windows Phone – you name it. I bet these were first on your list anyway.

What else do you bring on a road trip to help keep the kids quietly entertained?

*Photo credit: TrayKit
**I received a TrayKit for review, opinions are always my own.

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. We have 5 kids (I know. What were we thinking?) so we’re always looking for ways to keep them entertained when we go out. We download a lot of audiobooks. There’s plenty of sites where you can get them, but we use this site a lot because it’s free and all the stories are original. Here’s the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/stories-for-kids