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Toys for the Road

Courtesy of Brookstone

You’ve survived Christmas. You’ve found homes for most, if not all, of the gadgets and gizmos your kids received from Santa. Now it’s time to figure out which of those brand new toys are coming with you on the post-holiday road trip.

If your family is like ours, there isn’t much time to divvy things up—after traveling for the holiday, we leave again for an extended visit to the Northern California coast soon.

Here, in no particular order, is a rundown of which toys are best to bring along.

Ones you can read
Books—both those of the real-life-paper and electronic ilk—are great for road trips (as opposed to plane trips) because you don’t have to worry about bringing too many. Especially if you or your children get car sick, it’s best to bring books with large pictures and big font; this way no-one has to strain his or her eyes to follow along.

Ones that inspire creativity
Road trips fly by when your kids are using their imaginations, and nothing enables them to do this better than toys that inspire creativity. This could be as easy as a pad and a pack of (washable) crayons, or as sophisticated as a Brookstone Boogie Board Paperless LCD Writing Tablet or a laptop board for magnet art.

Ones that involve others
Families that like spending downtime together will enjoy toys and games that foster a group dynamic. Portable karaoke machines work nicely for this purpose, as do a certain number of group-oriented board games, such as Hedbanz. (Obviously, I only encourage the driver to participate when it’s perfectly safe to do so.)

Video games/digital movie players
Personally, I’m not a fan of having young kids stare into handheld video games or digital movie players—under any circumstances. That said, I recognize these devices have become a staple of road trips for many parents and many families, and wanted to be sure to mention them as an option here. If you’re a fan of these types of tools, they’re good to bring along.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t warn about toys to avoid bringing on road trips at all costs. These would be the ones that make noise. Incessantly. Think about it—silly songs are about the last thing you want to hear when trapped with your kids in a metal square on wheels. For your own sanity, tell the wee ones to leave these buggers home. And thank me in the New Year.