Driving home for Christmas? Gadgets to keep the passengers happy

For many, visiting family for Christmas means spending hours on the road. However, joining the throngs of holiday traffic doesn’t have to equal restless passengers. While all of these suggestions would make for superb gifts in their own right, they promise to keep the recipient entertained — and the driver sane — for hours. So you might want to think about coughing up for one of these before setting the sat-nav to go. 

Whether your loved ones enjoy gaming, binging on Christmas TV movies or curling up with a good book, here’s a varied selection of must-have gadgets that’ll easily while the time away. 

Nintendo Switch

The only gaming device you need

Height: 4 inches | Length: : 9.4 inches | Resolution: 1280x720 | Storage: 32GB (expansion possible) | Connection: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LAN Video | TV Output: 1080p | Charge Time: 3 hours

Unique hybrid design
Fantastic graphics
Two controllers included
Controllers only charge on console

One surefire way to keep younger passengers amused on the long drive home from grandma’s is the Nintendo Switch a.k.a. the hottest gaming device of 2017. Doubling as both a home console and handheld, the Switch’s adaptability means you don’t have to stop playing just because you’ve left the house. 

What’s more, if you whip out the console’s kickstand to employ tabletop mode, you can play multiplayer, which is great if you’ve more than one gamer in the back of the car. 

Sony WH-1000XM2 Headphones

Premium noise-cancelling headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz - 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: : Yes

Great audio
30-hour battery life
Potentially fragile design 

While these Sony WH-1000XM2 noise-cancelling headphones might be a rather extravagant purchase just to block out the sound of festive bickering, they are a solid investment should your passenger be regularly on the move. Not only do they tune out any background babble and sound crystal clear with music and movies, but they’re lightweight, flexible and comfortable, too.  

Plus they have a Quick Attention feature that temporarily pauses whatever it is that you’re listening to, should you need to take your attention elsewhere for a minute. 

Amazon Fire HD 10

All about that Netflix (or Prime) and chill

Body: 10.3 x 2.26 x 0.39 inches | Weight: 1.10lb | Display: 224 ppi density | Display size: 10.1 inches | Multitouch: Yes | CPU: Quad-core (2x1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 & 2x1.4 GHz Cortex-A53) | GPU: PowerVR G6250 | Storage and memory: : 32/64GB, 2 GB RAM | Battery: 10 hours

HD display
Poor camera 

With no frills attached, the Amazon Fire HD 10 might not be the prettiest pad in the world, but it’s an absolute bargain considering its HD display isn’t so dissimilar from the new iPad (it boasts 224 pixels per inch, to Apple’s 264 ppi). 

Built for content, this is a great gift for those who just want a solid slate to binge their favorite shows, movies and games upon — especially if they already have an Amazon Prime subscription, which opens access to a mammoth library. Just download the episodes you want to watch before setting off, and enjoy up to 10 hours of high-res fun. 

Amazon Kindle Oasis

The Kindle just got a slick new makeover

Display: 300 ppi | Weight: 194g | Storage: 8/32GB | Battery: Six weeks | Charge time: 3 hours | Connection: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G, Bluetooth | Waterproof: IPX8

No headphone jack, Bluetooth only 

Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is a real step up in terms of design, boasting a larger screen and metal case, which doesn’t get too heavy even after hours of reading. It’s waterproof, too, which means you don’t have to stress too much about accidentally chucking coffee over it while going over a speed bump. 

The coolest feature, however, is the audiobook setting: Should you own a title in both print and audio, you can switch seamlessly between the two without losing your place. 

Additionally if you’re travelling at night you have the option to switch the text so it reads white on black, meaning you can continue your literary feast without distracting the driver. 

Anki Cozmo

A.I. gets adorable in this brilliant educational toy

Compatibility: Android and iOS | Camera: 30fps VGA | Display: 128 x 64 facial display | Programmable?: Yes

Educational and fun
Coding lab is simple and addictive
Set up is a bit of a pain

By far the cutest gift idea on this list, not only is Anki’s Cozmo an adorable pocket-sized pal, but he’ll teach you how to code, too. Yep, this Wall-E lookin’ critter is a super smart toy that helps both kids and adults learn coding language and ensures they have fun while doing so. And while he may be better suited to your tabletop than your backseat, he'll be plucking at your heartstrings if you try to leave him home alone over the Christmas break.

Similar to a Tamagotchi, this little dude requires attention to keep him happy, but building a relationship is the best part of the game. Once you’ve taught him to say your name, and watched him get angry and embarrassed while teaching him how to swear, you’ll almost forget that you’re learning how to code at all. 

The device comes with three power cubes — interactive blocks that aid Cozmo’s development — and an app, which is where you’ll find the code lab. 

Nintendo 2DS XL

Back to the future

Dimensions: 3.4 x 6.3 x .85 inches | Weight: 261g | Resolution: 800 x 240 | Storage: 4GB microSD included (replaceable) | 3D support: No | Battery Life: 3.5-7 hours | Ports: headphone

Huge game selection available
Beautiful design
Low-res screen
Battery life not great 

If the Nintendo Switch is out of your price bracket, the Nintendo 2DS XL is an excellent second option, especially if there are some nostalgic gamers in your entourage this year. This dual-screen gaming machine is compatible with an impressive back-catalogue of the classics, incl. The N64 Legend of Zelda games, one of the best Donkey Kong titles and Pokemon Sun and Moon. You can get NES and SNES games for it, too. 

The 2DS comes in fun color combos of black/turquoise and white/orange and has a ridged texture on the top side; considering its low price, it feels sleek and premium. That said, the screen is quite low res at 240p, so it’s not the right choice for someone looking for a top of the range gaming experience — but for someone after a more arcade feel, it’s perfect. 

MAXOAK 50,000mAh Portable Charger

Six at a time, baby

Size: 207 x 136 x 33mm | Output ports: Laptop, digital cameras, smart phone, iPad, Tablet, USB-devices | Battery pack recharge: 6-8 hours

Six ports
Huge battery
Large design 

Perhaps the most important item of them all, for what’s the the benefit of having all these awesome time-passing gadgets if they run out of juice mid-journey? 

While the MAXOAK 50,000mAh isn’t exactly the most portable of the portable chargers due to its weight and size, its battery is mammoth, and can charge up to six gadgets at the same time — including laptops — meaning every passenger on board can be kept fully fueled and entertained for the duration of the journey. 

Not the charger for you? Check our list of the best portable powerbanks.