In the weeks before the vacation, I kept my eyes peeled for small fun treats for the boys. Always on a budget, they had to be cheap or free and non-messy since they were mainly for car entertainment. I also raided the gift closet for a few of these things. At different times on the road (i.e. whenever chaos was taking over the minivan), I would pull something out and present a new "vacation surprise."
- cheap, but brand new sunglasses
- a new set of washable markers for each boy
- a small individual box of raisins (from my mom's) We always buy the huge family size canister of raisins, so individual boxes were great fun
- sticker books
- other snacks that we wouldn't normally eat at home
- coloring books
- shower caps (from the hotel--they wore these most of the way home) you never know what kids are going to like!!! :)
- starlight mints (also from the hotel)
We also brought some books on tape on Joe's Ipod that we listened to on the way to Virginia. We had the complete works of Beatrix Potter and got through at least half of them. That kept us entertained for a good hour or so. We got them from Librovox, which is an open source online library of voice recordings of various books. They have a pretty good children's section.
We also had lots of podcasts--some from Boundless and some from Dave Ramsey--both are available on iTunes.
I still remember a cross country car trip with my mom and grandmother from when I was a child. They had a brown paper bag with treats in it and we got to unwrap one each hour (if I remember correctly). The treats were things like scissors, paper, and crayons, but I loved that trip.
For our vacation next year I am going to have to do a little better and prepare a few more surprises. This year's was kind of thrown together, but the boys loved it. It helped make the vacation fun for them.