fun in car toys and gifts
Wanting to make a car journey more fun or relaxing? Here you will find some of our top picks for passengers and the driver.For passengers:
Portable DVD player.
Can be quite expensive, but many parents find that they're lifesavers on long journeys. If you're on a budget but you still have your heart set on one, look on eBay or ask friends and family if they're selling one that's rarely used. Batteries are charged using the cigarette lighter or mains at home. These gadgets can make all the difference between a nightmare journey and a relatively peaceful road trip. Just make sure you take a selection of DVDs along with you, or you might find yourself listening to the Mike the Knight theme tune over and over again for three hours.
A lower budget equivalent of the DVD player, and runs less risk of causing car-sickness, too, if any of your passengers are prone to that. These are excellent for any length of trip and for all ages, from kids to busy adults who don't get much time to catch up on their reading. You can buy new or scour the charity shops for a big bundle of second-hand tapes, for the old-banger-owner in your life. They're available for MP3 players, too, although the capacity to buy these as gifts varies between shops and providers. You could buy a small MP3 player like an iPod Shuffle, and load it with stories.
Toy steering wheel.
For the little backseat driver in your life, a toy steering wheel - which can either just be held, or attached to the child's car seat or to the back of the seat in front - will at least give them the illusion of control. They usually have interactive features like beeping horns and clicking indicator stalks, and will keep kids occupied for a surprisingly long time.
Very small children won't be able to keep hold of a steering wheel, or anything else for that matter, that isn't attached to their car seat; anything you give them will end up in the footwell in about 30 seconds, and will need constant picking up by someone (or just leaving there until the journey is over). With this in mind, look for toys that attach to the car seat itself, and which stimulate a variety of senses - brightly coloured, with crinkly textures to touch, and bells and squeakers to hear. You'll find plenty of this sort of thing at places like Mothercare and Halfords.
For the driver:
Definitely not the most extravagant pressie in the world, but who doesn't want to add a little comfort to their commute? Make sure your loved one never spills hot coffee all over their lap again, with a drinks holder that sticks to the dashboard.
Heated seat cushion.
It's not really a toy, but it sure does sound tempting with the days getting so much colder. And it'll go so well with that drinks holder!
This would be a special gift for most people, with prices ranging from £50 for an entry level device to £270 for a top level, round-the-world bells and whistles version. Best value will depend on how often your lucky driver actually drives, and where to - no point shelling out for European maps if they never venture beyond their hometown limits.