We’re broke. I’m sure many of you can relate. But even though we can’t afford to take that trip to Jekyll Island that I so meticulously researched and planned last year and we likely won’t be able take the boys to Disney World until they have their own kids, I still want my boys to be able to experience family vacations, even if they’re only short road trips.
Growing up, we road-tripped it on all of our vacations — first in a Winnebago and then in our brown conversion van pulling our pop-up camper behind. We didn’t have a DVD player in the car (well, partly because DVD players and possibly even VCRs weren’t even invented yet), and our portable cassette players would drain the batteries after the first hour on the road, so the thing that made it fun for us was our “treasure chest of treats” that our mom would pack for us. She’d use one of those white Styrofoam coolers and would fill it full of snacks that we didn’t normally get, as well as Mad Libs, activity books and other fun things to do on the road. We couldn’t open it until we were actually started on the trip (which my sisters and I decided was as soon as we left our driveway).
I did this for my family several years ago when we embarked on a loooong road trip to Arizona over spring break. (Note: 52 hours in a van with three boys, ages 11 and under is not highly recommended, at least without the help of sedation.) It really did help pass the time for the boys and gave them something to look forward to. Next time we go on such a long trip (Lord help us), I will space out the treats, maybe one new thing every so many miles, so they don’t get everything all at once. Here are some ideas of things to include in your own Treasure Box of Road Trip Treats:
- Packs of gum (especially helpful if you’re driving through the mountains)
- Cheap journals from the dollar aisle at Target to use as travel journals
- New markers or crayons
- A folder of coloring/activity sheets about places you’ll be visiting or driving through. Just Google the destinations and look for free resources on teacher websites or other educational blogs. Then print out and create your own customized “activity books.”
- Homemade “road-trip mix.” You can save money by tailoring a “trail mix”-type snack for your kids’ taste. Try: dry roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, M&Ms, yogurt-covered raisins, Goldfish crackers, Twizzler Nibs and pretzel sticks.
- New pens and pencils in fun colors and styles.
- New pair of sunglasses.
- List of each state so they can play “License Plate BINGO.”
Over spring break this year, we road-tripped to the Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Ia.; Moline and Rock Island, Ill.). It turned out to be a really fun destination with tons to see and do. The highlight for us all was getting to visit Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Ia., the shop behind the hit TV show on The History Channel, “American Pickers.” The boys even got their picture taken with Danielle Colby.
Want to win a family vacation to the U.S. landmark of your choice? Twizzlers is giving away this grand prize to one lucky winner, but they’re also giving away other great “road-trip” prizes daily, like GPS units, national park guidebooks and digital cameras. Enter here for a chance to win!
Where is your family’s favorite road-trip destination? What do you do to make road trips enjoyable for everyone?