How does a family travel without a dvd player or any of the host of other doo-hickeys and gizmos that seem to be "necessary" for children these days?
Well, here's how we do it. It's called a surprise bag. For a lesser trip, the surprises are less exciting, but this was a Big Trip and I wanted the children to have a delightful experience through and through.
One key to the surprise bag is that EACH SURPRISE MUST BE WRAPPED! To figure the number of surprises you'll need for your trip, take your number of hours of travel and multiply by 2. Voila, your number of surprises.
There's playdough (not the best idea), 3 sheets of bubble wrap wrapped separately, paper with stickers, paper with mini markers, a mini slinky, a mini kaleidescope, a mini tape measure, a rainbow crayon, a lollipop, some tiny wooden colored blocks, pipe cleaners, and a couple books (those went into the bags unwrapped).
Why wrap each surprise? Because it adds a layer of fun and it allows you to keep the interest much longer. Every half hour the children get to open 1 surprise. The packages are numbered so they unwrap the same number at the same time, but they don't have to go in order. Deciding which little package to open next takes about 5 minutes, unwrapping takes maybe 2 because I use really strong tape, and then by the time the little trinket gets boring, another half hour marker approaches.
My grandma did these bags for my 5 siblings and I on our summer trips to Colorado, and I remember the eagerness with which we unwrapped those little things. My grandma was the one who wrapped up sheets of bubble wrap. Genius, really. Kids love to pop bubble wrap! (The big bubbles are more fun than the tiny ones.)
Several hours into our trip my husband walkie-talkie'd me just to say how great the trip was going, how much he loved me, and how wonderful the surprise bags were! (The older 2 were in the UHaul with him.)
For John Paul, I wrapped a plastic magnifying glass, a makeup brush, an old cell phone, a wind-up dinosaur, and some other odds and ends from around the house. Here he is after tickling himself silly with the make-up brush:
So, yes, I purchased all these trinkets BEFORE the Made-in-the-USA challenge, if you were wondering. I spent about $25, which was money well spent. If you bought 2 new dvd's for a trip, you'd spend about the same, but you wouldn't build the same memories or the same imaginations.
And by the way, that UHaul was only thirteen feet long. Thirt. Teen. Feet.
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."