Best car products for family holidays
We’ve picked out ten essential buys to make your family holiday in the car a breeze this summer
As the weather improves, thoughts turn to weekend breaks and holidays, and for many of us that will involve the car. Whether you’re planning a touring holiday or just transport to your summer break destination, there’s plenty you can do to ensure you arrive refreshed and ready to relax. So what should you pack to ensure your downtime goes smoothly?
Here’s our guide to the top ten items you should invest in before leaving home.
Nextbase 512G Ultra
Driving on busy roads that you don’t know, particularly abroad, increases the risk of having an accident. So it makes sense to have back-up from a dash cam if an incident wasn’t your fault or you were the victim of an insurance scam. Our current favourite is the Nextbase 512G, although the firm is due to replace it shortly as it fights off rivals in a fast-growing market. As it is, the 512G still delivers 1080p footage at 30 frames per second. A polarised lens helps it deal with bright sunlight, while it still sets the pace when recording after dark.
GoPro Hero5 Black
Want to enjoy that scenic drive again or even take stills of your holiday? An action cam is a good option. These devices are compact and easily mounted or stored in the car. Our pick is the GoPro Hero5 Black, which records footage in crisp 4K resolution at a speedy 30 frames per second, making it ideal to watch on a big screen like a TV. There’s image stabilisation, plus you can take RAW-file stills using the 12-megapixel camera. When you’re done, you can transfer images to your phone via the app.
A family’s holiday luggage can easily defeat even a large car. A roof box provides that extra capacity only when you need it. The Kamei 510 is a two-time test winner. Roof boxes can be tricky to get on with, but this one makes life as simple as possible as it weighs just 18kg despite its 510-litre capacity. It opens from either side and has user-friendly pull to shut and lock security. Plus, it can be slid forward so you can open a tailgate.
Olixar Universal Car Headrest Mount Pro
A movie on a tablet is a good option for keeping the kids quiet on a long drive, so a mount is essential. Our pick from Olixar goes between the front seats. It’s easy to set up and can be twisted and tilted through a wide range of angles. It holds the tablet firmly even over rough roads, plus is good value.
Eurohike Picnic Kit and Backpack
A leisurely drive to a beauty spot for an al fresco picnic is all part of the summer experience. For anything more sophisticated than a pack of sandwiches you’ll need cutlery, crockery and some way of keeping food cool. A picnic hamper provides just that, and this backpack version means you can venture away from the car. There’s an insulated bottle holder to chill drinks, plus when you get where you plan to eat there’s a rug with a waterproof layer.
Driving on unfamiliar roads is tricky enough without having to battle an atlas or map to stay on the right route. A sat-nav removes the stress from the experience, especially if you’re abroad and there are different traffic rules to negotiate. Our current pick of the standalone devices is the new TomTom GO5200. A new processor makes it faster than ever, but what puts it ahead of some talented rivals is its guidance. For safely finding your way through unfamiliar roads and cities, there is nothing better.
Simoniz Insect & Tar Remover
With any luck your summer trip will be blessed with sunshine. While great for the tan, that means bugs will splatter themselves on your car’s bodywork. Leave them to be baked on by the sun until you return home, and they can be really difficult to remove. With our test-winning Simoniz Insect & Tar Remover in the boot you can deal with the pests as soon as you stop. No need for water – just spray, leave to penetrate then wipe away.
Your car suits you most of the year, but when it has to swallow the family and their luggage, it suddenly falls short. Yet rather than switch to a bigger model, why not exploit the space on the roof? Whether you need to carry a roof box, bikes, boats or skis, you’ll need a set of roof bars even if your car has rails. Our test winner is Thule’s quiet, aerodynamic Wingbar. It’s easy to fit, plus it’s a modular system so when you change cars you’re unlikely to have to buy all the parts again.
Halfords 24L Electric Coolbox
There’s nothing like a cold drink to help you cool down when driving in hot weather. A powered cool box ensures you have a good supply without resorting to overpriced drinks from tourist traps. When we tested this Halfords version in Issue 1,446, it achieved the joint biggest drop in temperature, at 15 degrees Celsius below the ambient. We also managed to fit four 1.5-litre soft drinks bottles inside with plenty of room left for food boxes and the like. There’s neat storage for the power lead in the lid, plus a large handle for easy carrying.
Prestone Extreme Performance Screen Wash
Price: £3.50 (2ltr)
A bug cleaner will deal with dead insects once you’ve stopped, but on the move it’s the job of the screenwash. This is never more crucial than when driving abroad, where large insects can leave a distracting mess on the screen. When topping up before you set off, ensure this Prestone wash is in your reservoir. It won our Issue 1,464 screen wash test, proving hugely effective at shifting oil and bugs from the screen. It needs diluting, so you can vary the mix to suit where you’re driving and increase cleaning performance as you need to.