June 28, 2016

Long Road Trips and Personalized Road Trip Boxes

Keep the kids busy on your next road trip
with personalized boxes filled with
small trinkets and snacks.
Summer time and the livin' is easy. The sun is shining and everyone requests time off. It’s vacation! For us and countless others, it’s the end-of-summer push before school begins. It’s road trip time!

Most of you agree that the proper planning is a necessity for any vacation, but let’s focus on a very small and very specific task that needs more attention: planning the kids' "car travel kit." The point is to keep them occupied for endless hours so that we don't hear endless rounds of "When are we gonna get there?” I never guarantee myself endless hours of quiet. After all, my kids are still young, but I try.

So what's in my car kit? I usually include a DVD player and movies, special road trip music, fresh crayons and a doodle pad, coloring books, books and snacks. I also like to have items that are “fresh” and new for the kids — items that they haven't seen before sometimes will occupy lots of their attention.

I began my quest to occupy the kids a few years ago when driving five hours north for a long weekend. I started by grabbing two shoebox-sized plastic bins, and, with decorative pens in hand, I personalized them for my kiddos. After that I went about finding small trinkets and goodies that the kids could have. My only rule was that they could do whatever they wanted with the goodies, but once they were gone, there was no more.

At first I included toys from fast food kids meals, small treats and pocket-sized coloring books. Bins have also included small trinkets for each of the kids, a small Lego kit or a Polly Pocket, a kids map of the United States I got free with purchase from my local Marathon gas station, a Where's Waldo 3-D poster from Wendy's and a pack of gum. I'll admit, even now my kids enjoy doing "something" so a good book or magazines are often included. When I took my Girl Scouts on a trip to Mackinac Island recently, even THEY enjoyed doing the road trip games. We played an awesome road trip scavenger hunt that went on ALL weekend!

I look for items throughout the year, as I find that's the best way to prepare. I find inexpensive trinkets at Michael's and or in Target's $1 bins. A few months ago, I found that The Rocket in downtown Ypsilanti was a great place to find novelty items perfect for road trips; I bought individual re-positional sticker activity books there. By planning ahead, I am always prepared — I actually have items tucked away for future trips.

So what do you give your children to occupy them on long road trips? What are their favorite items? Is there anything special that is a must-have for your children in the car?

I’m heading off into the sunset with the car stuffed to the gills and the car's top carrier overflowing. The kids will be happily occupied for hours, allowing me to enjoy the ride. One can hope anyway, right?

This was originally published in annarbor.com.

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