Late last year, we took a scenic road trip from Los Angeles to Oakland up Highway 1, stopping along the way in Morro Bay. At the time of the trip, our kids were almost 4 and 2-years-old. We knew that taking the long way up the coast with such young children was ambitious but my husband and I were convinced that we totally "got this."
We did not have any of "this" at all.
The first part of the drive was easy, about three hours from L.A. to Morro Bay, where we stayed overnight at the Morro Bay Inn, an 8-room, family-run spot across from Morro Rock. Here's a view from our room on the second floor. (You can read my more in-depth review on HotelChatter, which has since closed down. More on the site's closure here.)
The next day was our big day of driving. We hopped out at the Elephant Seal Rookery not long after we set out, but the hours we spent driving through Big Sur before arriving at the Monterey Aquarium later in the day were long. LOOOONG. Part of it was due to that we didn't expect to be without cell service during most of the ride. This meant that we couldn't play our kid-friendly playlist that we had set up on Spotify. Nor could we download any new apps for the kids to play on their iPads.
The other part of it was that we really didn't pack road trip toys, other than an iPad for each kid. Which is crazy, since I am super diligent about packing toys for the airplane. But somehow I didn't quite think this one through. (Another reason why we didn't "got this"? Unbeknownst to us at the time, the girls were coming down with colds, which developed into a nasty case of pink eye on Christmas morning. #THEWORST.)
If only I had The Junkie when we made this trip. Yes, The Junkie. You know I love a good play on words. Wink, wink.
Made by the same company who makes the inflatable Bubble Bum booster seat (which a Trips + Giggles mom really loves), The Junkie is an all-in-one organizer for the backseat. It straps in between the middle seat and comes with a tablet holder, two cup holders, two trays for snacking and activities, along with a removable tote bag that has an insulated section which will keep drinks and snacks cold-ish during the trip.
The best part of The Junkie is the tablet holder. I slide my iPad mini into it and voila! The girls are able to watch their favorite movie (currently "Rainbow Rocks: My Little Pony Equestria Girls") together. The cup holders are also sanity savers since my children often like to bring both water AND juice with them on trips, no matter how short. (Don't worry, I keep a portable potty in the backseat too. I'm not taking any chances!)
The retractable trays, which remind me of airplane trays, are small so they aren't big enough for coloring books and crayons but they are good place to steady a bowl of snacks or to line-up tiny My Little Pony figurines. The tote bag is also a great place for storing snacks that the kids can access easily, although my younger one likes to put her My Littly Ponies in it. (Can you tell we're deep into the My Little Pony business these days?)
I received The Junkie to try out on a short road trip but we actually keep The Junkie in place in the car all the time now. It especially comes in handy during bad traffic (we live in L.A. so this routinely happens.)
The only issue I had with The Junkie is that it can be a little wonky to put together. You have to snap the plastic sides together. These sides are easy to collapse for when you want to remove The Junkie or decided to store it in the car without taking up too much room, but they can also collapse if your child bumps into it while climbing into the car. I wish the sides were fortified a bit more, but other than that, there's no way I would drive more than 30 minutes without this.
You can buy The Junkie online at all the usual retailers. The price is $39.99, which is a little more than other backseat organizers but the tablet viewer, which allows kids to watch it together, is what makes the price worth it.
Disclosure: Bubble Bum sent us a Junkie to review but we promise we'd never endorse anything we didn't think would help you while traveling.