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7 products for family trips and adventures
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Whether youre going on an afternoon hike or a multi-day road trip, traveling with kids involves a lot more preparation than going solo. - photo by Grant Olsen
THE GREAT OUTDOORS Whether youre going on an afternoon hike or a multi-day road trip, traveling with kids involves a lot more preparation than going solo. The gear requirements can be especially daunting. There are helpful items that can make the time in the car easier, make the destinations more enjoyable and even make the downtime more entertaining.

The problem is knowing what will work best for your family, and then finding room to pack it into your vehicle. Each family is different and every trip has its own dynamic, so what works for one family may not work for another. Here are reviews for a variety of products that could possibly be of use on your next outing.

SkyView Stargazing App

GRADE: A

PRICE: $2

This award-winning stargazing app allows you to point your iPhone or iPad into the sky to easily identify stars, constellations, planets and satellites. Its extremely accurate and even provides bonus information about what youre looking at.

The SkyView app is perfect for overnight outings. It will introduce your kids to the fascinating realms of space, as well as equip you with the advanced knowledge required to impress your friends and look like Isaac Asimov. A particularly fun time to use it is on long drives that go into the evening hours. Simply pull off the road for a few minutes to let your kids stretch their legs and explore the stars.

Leather Bound Notebook

GRADE: A

PRICE: $6

This suggestion came from a reader who has four children. When his family goes on long trips, they get an inexpensive notebook for each of the children. The goal is for each of the kids to create a trip diary by adding items like postcards, amusement park tickets, leaves or even restaurant napkins.

Having an ongoing activity like this can break up the monotony of long trips and help keep your kids entertained. And at the end of the trip, your children will have a fun record of the experience.

D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera

GRADE: A

PRICE: $159

Being gone for long periods of time often leaves you wondering about the safety of your home. A Wi-Fi enable security camera is a good solution, because it allows you to easily check in. Granted, you cant inspect your entire home with a stationary camera, but you can at least look at crucial areas of the house.

The Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera from D-Link is particularly helpful because it gives you the widest view possible. No other consumer camera on the market can beat it. This means that when placed right, the camera will allow you to see multiple rooms, entrances and windows.

This powerful little camera also lets you record video footage to a microSD card. Depending on the settings, that means up to a week of continuous clip recordings accessible through the mydlink app. And unlike some other brands out there, D-Link doesnt charge any fees to use their web portal.

The camera gives you 1080p HD resolution, night vision up to 16 feet, sound and motion detection, two-way audio and peace of mind while youre out on the road.

Chicco Lullaby Dream Playard

GRADE: B+

PRICE: $239

A playard is always nice to have around on a trip. Little ones can romp and play without getting in the way or wandering into danger. So whether its setting the playard up on a fishing trip or in a hotel room, it can help everyone enjoy the day more.

The best playards are versatile. For example, the Lullaby Dream Playard from Chicco can serve as an infant napper, infant recliner, bassinet, playard and changing table. It also comes with a parent organizer and theres an electronic toy bar that plays music, fun sounds and provides a night-light.

When packing for a trip, space is premium. So with something as big as a playard, its important that it gives you as much utility as possible. The Lullaby Dream definitely achieves this. Best of all, the components are all removable, so you can customize it with the best accessories you need for a given trip.

The Lullaby Dream easily packs into the provided carry bag for transportation. Its made with extra durable fabric that cleans easily and wont rip during rugged use.

Hydrocortisone Cream

GRADE: A

PRICE: $12

Children often have a special ability to find things like stinging nettle, poison oak or poison ivy. If youre going to be spending a substantial amount of time in the outdoors, its a good idea to have something like hydrocortisone cream on hand.

There are several brands of anti-itch cream on the market and the Kirkland Signature kind is one of the best and most affordable. It will help to soothe itches and rashes caused by bug bites, poison oak, poison ivy and other pesky things.

Chicco Stack 3-in-1 Multi-Chair

GRADE: A

PRICE: $129

The best baby products are versatile enough to grow with your kids. The Chicco Stack 3-in-1 Multi-Chair is a prime example of this. It can be a highchair for an infant, making it a useful item to bring on an extended trip where there will be lots of mealtimes.

For toddlers, you can detach the chairs legs and make it a booster. In booster mode, its easy to pack and can help youngsters feel like part of the action at the table. And for older kids, the chair converts to a stool.

One of the coolest features on this product is the removable tray liner. It easily snaps into place, and then at the end of mealtime, you can take it off and rinse it in the sink. Super fast and simple.

The chair has a sleek, welded frame and can be dismantled for transportation. Its a high-quality product that is ideal for multi-day trips with youngsters.

Burley Solstice Jogging Stroller

GRADE: A

PRICE: $399

A reliable, comfortable stroller is an excellent way to help your little ones experience the outdoors. Of all the different brands and models on the market, the Solstice is one of the best. Burley specializes in bike trailers and theyve designed the Solstice with many of the same advanced features.

For starters, this stroller is a true one-hand folder. When youve got a lot of other gear to deal with, the ease with which a stroller folds becomes extremely important. You can actually fold or unfold the Solstice while holding a child. It folds and locks in one motion, with the wheels in position so you can roll it rather than carry it.

Another key feature is the harness. Burley uses patented Spring Integrated Technology, which pulls the straps out toward the sides of the stroller when not in use. When you place your child in the stroller, the straps are held out of the way, rather than getting smashed beneath the child. So buckling them in is a breeze.

One final benefit of the Solstice is the extendable handlebar. While adjustability used to be less common on strollers, more brands are waking up to the fact that parents come in all shapes and sizes. So adjustable height isn't unique. But Burley has taken it a step further, making the handlebar extend out as it rises in height, allowing for increased stride length for taller parents. Small details like this place the Solstice in a league of its own.