2. A DVD player - this is essential if you are doing really long trips because kids can only sit for so long. We have to do an occasional 10-12 hour days on our trips and showing movies is a lifesaver! A new movie or 2 helps as well.
3. Snacks - I like to get the individual packets of things like goldfish and a few of snacks they don't usually get. They should be dry, non-sticky and fairly colorless if possible - chocolate crumbs that have been worked into the carpet will probably leave a stain. An individual thermos for each kid works better than juice boxes because there is less mess. Stay away from really sugary stuff as well - kids on a sugar high with no where to expend the energy will drive you crazy. Don't forget your wipes!
4. A backpack or tote of toys/books - Each of my kids have a totebag that they are allowed to fill up with books and toys that they want to have during the trip. The kids also have a V-Reader which they used alot while driving. I also let them each have a backpack, but will probably only do one bag per kid next year if we do it again because there isn't enough room. Stay away from crayons, especially if you are going to hot destinations. No matter how careful you are, one or two will escape and melt somewhere you don't want it to, or the kids will write on everything but the paper.
5. Blanket/Bedding Stuff - I allow them to bring their sleepy toys (lovies, blankies, babies, or whatever you call them) in their seat. It gets crowded with everything, but it makes them feel comfortable and will help them take naps easier.
6. Don't stop unless you have to: You'll never get there if you stop all the time. Make each kid use the restroom while you are filling up with gas, and try to coordinate eating with gas stops. Someone may need to pee in-between, but if you don't drink too much and force kids to take a potty break when you do, you can avoid unecessary stops every 30 minutes.
7. Positive Attitude! - It's important for Mom and Dad to have a positive attitude during the trip. Point out interesting things along the way, make up games, and build up excitement for the little things along the way like staying in hotels and the kids will follow in your footsteps. If you are cranky and negative, the kids will be too and that isn't fun for anyone. Enjoy your opportunity to see the country in a new way - there's lots to see and enjoy, and make stops and interesting places along the way if you want to.
Roadtrips can be really fun, educational, and adventurous family time - it's truly all in your attitude! Use your phone to look up info about places along the way and take lots of pictures or video. It may be the only economical way you can take vacations or visit family or friends since airfare is so expensive. I encourage everyone to try it at least once! Have a great time!