Well, hello there! We are on our great road trip traveling across the U.S. to visit/meet up with family in Montana, Canada, and then down to Missouri and Illinois. That means LOTS of quality time in the car, like we’re talking 5,000 miles worth. Let me show you what has been our little saving grace:
An old backpack, right? Yes, but for this trip it’s also our “car store.” I got the idea from my wonderful mother in law. She used to do it her kids (my husband+his 7 siblings) on their cross country trips.
For a couple of months before the trip, I started gathering things to put in the “store.” Then, you give everything a point value and they can buy things with their points when you open the store. Our store was open around 10 and 2 every day. They started every day with 10 points and then could earn a point every hour they were good in the car. Of course you can add bonus points if you want, or points can be taken away for naughtiness. It’s amazing what happens when you turn around t0
shake your fist and threaten sweetly remind them that points are about to be taken away.
Healthy snacks like oranges, apples, string cheese, nuts, etc. were free but they had use their points to buy the candy. You can put a limit on how much candy per day, but let me tell you, some nights when we were all ready to pull our hair out from driving all day, candy was chucked freely to the backseat to keep peace.
Here are some things that were in our store:
Sunglasses from the dollar store (10 pts: HUGE hit!)
Candy 5-10 pts(pop rocks are fun, but MESSY. I wouldn’t do them again)
These little bags of nugget bubble gum were the most popular candy:
Stickers (5 pts) bomb: kids weren’t very interested, so we used them for bingo.
Books and magazines they’ve never read before from the thrift store 5 pts. I think I thought my kids were going to read a chapter book an hour. I brought waaay too many~like 20 chapter books…what was I thinking?
These these big doodle books were a BIG hit (20 pts)
Little notebooks, crayons & colored pencils 5-10 pts. These were pretty popular.
Just anything miscellaneous that you know they will want. Goggles (10 pts) and lip gloss (5 pts). Goggles went quickly, lip gloss didn’t.
A few more things:
* I put my oldest daughter in charge of keeping track of points. She did a great job so I didn’t have to worry about it.
*We have a DVD in the car, but limited the movies to about 2 a day since they seem to be much more crabby the more TV they watch.
*They each got 30 minutes on the DS (they all share one) We were going to put a DS game in the store, but we didn’t need to…maybe on the way back?
*On the days we needed to put 10-12 hours of driving in, we had them sleep in their outfits for the next day, got up at 5 a.m., loaded them up and started driving. The morning was our quiet time where everyone would sleep and the day would go by much faster. We saved the movies, games, etc. for the I’m bored time in the afternoon and would try to make it to the hotel in time for the evening so we could play in the pool.
*They like these bingo printables to kind of break things up: (I don’t have the site bookmarked, but if you search online, there are tons...car color bingo, license plate bingo, etc)
I laminated them and they used the dry erase markers with the little erasers on top or stickers to mark them off. Winner can get extra points! (Landon just liked to color with them)
* One of our favorite games is “Your Car.” Someone picks a number and says something like: “this is Dad’s car when he retires.” Then you count how many cars are going in the opposite direction and see what car he gets. It can be very funny.
So, I would love to know if you are the heck yea, let’s take a road trip across country with the kids type,
or no way-not on your life-that is my idea of you know what-are you crazy-what are you thinking-save your money for plane tickets type?
Because, every day we meet people that say both, and depending on the day on this big long trip, I think I could fit into either camp.