When I was a kid, I was a brat. Well not really. 🙂 What I mean is, I was a military brat. So we were stationed in various locations around the country–and not usually near family. So we put a lot of miles on the old blue station wagon and then the Chrysler minivan. On those long trips I can still remember my mom handing out little travel trinkets to mark off the hours in the car. Sometimes it was candy or stickers, other times an activity book or small toy. Whatever it was, we couldn’t wait to open each new “present,” which my mom had carefully wrapped and numbered before our trip began.
So of course this is a tradition I have continued with my own children. And between our trips to visit family and our camping/touring adventures, we too are logging some serious miles on our GMC Savanna. Our kiddos have come to look forward to these travel surprises, which not only help pass the miles but can also be used as very effective
bribery, er, encouragement to keep the peace in the car.
I tend to shop for these little travel surprises all year long. If I see something on clearance or in a dollar bin that I think would be good for the road, I’ll pick it up. I never spend very much on these items and I try to stick to things that will engage the kiddos’ interest for awhile. So below you can see the types of things I gathered for our most recent road trip–including some snacks, a book on cd, sticker books, coloring books, a craft kit, etc.
I wrapped each child’s trinkets in a different color tissue paper and then numbered them so that I would know I was giving the same (or comparable) item to each child at the same time. (A few items were for sharing and wrapped in yellow.) I space when I dole out the trinkets depending on how long the trip is–or if the mood in the car has gone sour, sometimes a little present can be quite the pick-me-up!
Now of course these travel surprises aren’t the only item in my stress-free travel arsenal. I always come armed with snacks and drinks. The DIY travel activity binders have been fantastic for keeping the kiddos occupied. And when all else fails, we do now have a portable DVD player for the car. 🙂