Monday, May 06, 2013

Vacation Planning- The Little Things

It's vacation time again and I feel compelled to document some travel ideas I've been working on for this years trip.  Traveling with kids is stressful and traveling with 7 kids while on a budget and trying to relax is downright impossible without some significant planning.  So, I figured I'd hit some high points in my packing tips at the beginning of the summer for anyone out there wanting new or fresh ideas for ways to be frugal, pack light, or be prepared for anything.

I'll start my series of traveling with kids posts with a fun couple of cheap and small ways to entertain children that are great for trips.

 First, I scored a great yard sale find last week!  I absolutely LOVE putting a small bag of surprises together for each child for a long car ride.  Our car ride from NH to FL will be 24+ hours straight and so it's important to have some things that will hold their interest.  For my artsy kids a small pad of paper and some colored pencils are a perfect addition to the bag.  But keeping things compact is key, so this fun trick worked wonders and I can't wait to try it out. 

At the sale I found this box of regular Prismacolor colored pencils.  Those of you in the art world know that these are really nice.  $1 for the set!  I also picked up this cute little blue pouch for 50 cents knowing it would come in handy for something.  I wanted to stretch the pencils a little for my larger quantity of people so I took each pencil and cut it in half with a bread knife and sharpened each half.  That gave me two sets of nice mini pencils and with a small white pad creates a perfect way for kids to color a picture in the car or during a rainy day.  I think a white post-it note pad could be awesome with this idea as well.  They would be able to easily hang their artwork on the car window or in your hotel room or cabin, or wherever.  The small tin that houses the other pencils was some random little metal tin I had laying around, but I was quite tickles at how well the pencils fit inside.  So, these are going in a couple of car bags for my kiddos next week.

 Next budget friendly idea is go to the library!  The children love to read books at night before bed, or during rest times and I enjoy having new things to read on a trip because it holds their interest longer.  But seriously, who has money to go out and buy a slew of new books just for a trip these days?  When I had one or two kids, I could spring for a couple of books each, but with seven- no way!  So, to the library I went.  Took my handy purple milk crate and loaded up with some goodies.  Picked up a couple of audio books for the car ride as well.  Good news? We can check out books for a whole month at our library!  So, I was able to check them out a week and a half before the trip and not wait till the last minute.  Then I still have plenty of time to return them when we get home.  Only trick is we have to make sure we bring them all back.  Some of you probably have tablets, or whatever that your kids read books on, but I'm telling you, there's nothing like a good paper copy of Calvin & Hobbes to keep my kids entertained for hours!  All for free!

I found this trick online several places and have tried it at home.  It's painter's tape and cars.  This is a great activity for a rainy day backup plan- especially for boys.  Simply put your tape down wherever you want a road and let them drive all over.  I recommend trying a small piece of tape on various surfaces before you go haywire with it- especially on other people's property- for instance, we discovered that when applied to microfiber covered furniture it leaves a very obvious line when removed.  But for floors and hardwood you should be good to go.  You can also use a permanent marker to draw lines, stop signs,  and all sorts of traffic things on the tape, making it as interesting as you want.  This takes almost no space in your packing, but can provide a fun last minute activity at a moment when you desperately need a distraction.

 This year we are headed to the beach and that means sand and that means castles and building.  I grabbed a pile of these cheap sand pails at the Dollar Tree in our area and love that they stack together very efficiently.  But those little shovels that come with them?  They last about 30 seconds before breaking and scoop only about a tablespoon of sand at a time!  For those mega builders, skip the baby scoop and go to the kitchen section and get a flour scoop.  Much sturdier and will be far better for digging trenches, filling pails, and flinging random sand into the ocean.

This is another part of a car bag I'm working on.  My Grandmama picked up these adorable bumblebee pouches that have zipper openings for the kids several months ago and I am excited about putting them to better use.  In several of them I put three little action figures and a couple of dragons.  This one has a deck of cards from our games at home as well.  I think this little pile cost me about $5 as I had more than half of it already at home and just put it to better use.  The action figures are new and the boys love to have little wars in the back seat of the van.  We don't do a lot of reading in the car- too much car sickness, but this and some audio stories solves worlds of issues.

So, those are some of the little things that are going along to keep things fun this year.  I'd love to hear from you! What things keep your kids entertained while they are waiting, riding, or resting?

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