Taking a vacation is always a very exciting time. As the weeks and days gradually bring you closer to the date to leave, you can feel the swell of anticipation in the air. The only problem is, that in order to reach the glorious vacation destination, you have to take a trip; and if you have children, you know that traveling can often be a bit of a stressful experience.
I mean, I get it! It’s hard to sit in a vehicle for hours upon hours (and to kids- an hour seems, I think, at least double what it does to an adult!) when you are already excited. All those emotions and antsy-ness, and small spaces are bound to create some…. “moments”.
So, in an effort to make the actual traveling time a little bit more fun for everyone, I began a little tradition.
Here’s where the inspiration came from: When I was about 15, I took a trip to Michigan with a good high school friend and her mom and brother. Obviously, from Virginia to Michigan by car was a pretty good haul. We drove through the night, and some of the next day. Mrs. Kelley had quite a few small, wrapped gifts in a bag, that my friend and I could choose from. We were allowed to pick 1 each at each new hour. Who doesn’t like presents!? Being teenage girls, she had things like lip gloss, lotions, soaps, candy, jewelry, etc. I thought that was the coolest idea! We waited in anticipation of another hour gone by so it would be time to open another little treasure- and that really seemed to make the time go by quicker! Instead of focusing on the long trip, it was more digestible by being broken up into one hour chunks. It helped to keep the trip fresh and exciting!
So- I have taken this idea and made it our own little traveling tradition, as well. Our annual trip to the beach is around 6 hours, so I buy 6 small gifts for each child. Obviously, that could add up to be a little expensive when you have more than a couple kids, so I try to find things in a dollar bin or the dollar store, things on clearance and so on. I look for little gifts that they can use on the trip or that they can use when we reach the vacation spot. Sometimes, I splurge a little and might spend a little more to buy a book they’ve been wanting or a special set of pens or an audiobook to enjoy on the trip, or something like that. Really, you can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want. I’ve also printed out coloring pages or activities with a beach or summer theme for the kids to color as one of the gifts- and that didn’t cost me anything. Just get creative!
I like to wrap each gift because I think that makes it a little more fun still. At the beginning of each new hour, they get to open one. It really is fun! Then, they are happy to play with the new trinket or eat the candy, or color the picture, read the book, listen to the story, or whatever the case may be. I really do think it makes the time go by much quicker and I have a lot of fun with it, too! I love seeing their excitement and giving them their wrapped-up gifts.
Here’s some of the gifts I have done over time.
- Notepad and Pens
- FREE I Spy travel game Printable
- FREE Printable Road Trip Games
- Melissa and Doug Make a Face
- Activity Pad with crossword puzzles or mazes or tic tac toe, etc.
- Free Printable Summer Themed coloring pages and activities
- Candy Bar
- Money for spending at the beach or to pick something out at a convenience store when we stop for gas
- Silly Putty
- Secret Garden Postcards to Color
- Play Jewelry
- Small Play figures
- FREE Printable Blank Faces Drawing Page
- Coloring book
- Book (look for used books to cut down on the cost!)
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow books
- New Audiobooks or Music to Listen to on the trip
- Preschool Sticker Activity Book
- FREE Summer Color By Number Pages
- FREE Printable 10 Drawing Prompts
You can spend as little or as much as you want on each gift. Look in dollar bins at the store. Check amazon for used books. If you know you’re going to be doing this, you can buy little gifts on clearance as you see them throughout the year.
As vacation time approaches, my kids will often as me if “we will be doing gifts again this year”. I usually reply that “they will just have to wait and see”! 🙂
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