As a mom of three little ones, a beach vacation isn’t always the relaxing sea and sand adventure that I dream it will be.
Oh sure – we will have a great time, but so often it’s the very long drive to the beach that causes me anxiety even weeks before we set out on our trip.
A more than 13 hour drive lies ahead of our family of five. The minivan will be packed to the brim. DVDs and video games will be watched and played. There will be snacks aplenty. But alas, the little ones will still be bored.
Taking this trip for several years now, I’ve found some fun and inexpensive road trip hacks, many of which involve a quick trip to Goodwill.
1) Survival car caddy.
Check out Goodwill for a plastic art caddy for each child and begin building an individualized snack and play center. For only a $1 each, I was able to buy a caddy for each child.
Quick tips for filling the caddy:
- colored pencils (not crayons, they melt if you are traveling in hot climates)
- pipe cleaners (endless creations can be made from this colorful and inexpensive craft supply)
- smaller sheets of paper (full size sheets are more difficult to maneuver in the car)
2) Pack some pans.
One of my favorite ‘long drive to the beach’ activities, which also happens to be a Goodwill score, is baking pans. No, we are not baking. But, these metal sheets make a great workspace and play space for little ones.
Uses for baking pans:
- I use magnetic letters, which I already own, to help the crew practice spelling.
- We attach magnets to puzzle pieces to prevent the pieces from falling on the floor or lost forever in between seat cushions.
- We also use a magnetic clip to keep coloring pages in place.
Need more ideas? Here is a link to FREE printables from The Measured Mom that can be used on these pans!
3) Countdown bags.
This is really where you can be creative in your shopping trip to Goodwill.
THE GOAL: fill a bag with a surprise.
The bags can be labeled by the hour of the trip (i.e. Hour 1, Hour 2, etc) or by the destination (Do Not Open Until Wheeling WV or Lexington VA). The surprises inside the bag should not be big or flashy.
Ideas for countdown bags (most of which can be found at Goodwill):
- Candy or snack
- Family game
It’s Always Autumn offers some colorful, free printables for your countdown bags. Our countdown bags were filled at Goodwill for all three of my daughters for less than $10!
4) Book, books and more books.
I highly recommend a trip to Goodwill to purchase a few new reads for vacation. There seems to be an endless supply of children’s books at our Goodwill. And, for only a few dollars, we can fill a bin in the car with these finds.
Some of our books will make it into our Countdown bags, and others will be reserved for reading at the beach.
BOOK TIP: Although our family is a big supporter of the library, I find its too risky to take a library book on our trip for fear it meets a sticky juice box or gets left behind in another state.
5) Get creative!
Did I mention our drive is more than 13 hours? That’s 780 minutes or 46,800 seconds filled with questions like ‘are we there yet?’ or comments like ‘I’m bored.’
Scanning the shelves during my trip to Goodwill, I wanted to find something new and creative for us to break the boredom in the car. My most favorite find during this haul were these Princess Story Cards.
For just $1.49 (50% off retail price), this new, never been used game will be a great new addition to our vacation drive repertoire. The illustrated cards are designed to serve as inspiration for a story that you and others create. My own little princesses will love this game!
EXTRA BONUS: Because this only requires your own creativity, we aren’t limited by age. My girls, who range in age from three to nine years old, will all be able to participate in this new game.
Happy travels to everyone this summer, and happy Goodwill shopping! Got ideas? Be sure to leave your own vacation travel ideas below in the comments.