A few days after Christmas, we returned to our home town for a few weeks holiday to visit our families.
It was the first time for me since moving , the main reason being the distance and time it takes to get there! A nearly 14 hour drive (depending all on stops and speed) and 1350km. Its not exactly something you can do often, especially when you are travelling with young kids.
To keep the kids occupied on the long haul trip, I wanted to make them a 'Travel Busy Bag'. Something that each of them could use to hold their toys for the trip, items to keep them entertained and any other personal items that needed to be kept close in the car.
I also didn't want to go out and purchase anything especially for them, seeing as though we were preparing for Christmas and a holiday, expensive times themselves.
I bought these cute fabric bags from Kmart for just a few dollars and that was the extent of the expense for us. It was just a matter of corralling all the items from around the house, into the one place.
Each bag contained (this is Max's below);
- a large colouring in pad (the bigger the better so that it is easier to lean on their laps in the car)
- a crayon or pencil roll
- a small spiral notepad (these are from Kmart)
- a small blackboard and chalk (these are from Typo, bought a while ago for $5 ea)
- a set of flashcards each
- a fabric bag that they could fill with whatever toys they wanted to take away with us
- a set of ear phones
- their new DSi players they received for Christmas ( super cheap at $69 from Kmart as they are the old style)
Stella (nearly 6) had a few extras in her bag as she is a little older and was also sitting at the very back of the car by herself. We wanted her to be able to operate and occupy herself independently for the majority of the trip (which she was).
One of my biggest tips is to keep things containerised. It creates less mess and chaos within the bags (as you know that kids are just going to roughly rifle through them and then declare they can't find something) And then the items are easier to pull out on the road - especially for you helping them.
I HATE the constant turning around as passenger, the sore back, the way the seat belt hurts your neck! blah!
So each child had their earphones inside a small fabric bag, all a little different and re purposed from random things. I bought a pair of sandals from Just Jeans and they came in this cute floral one. I like to keep things like that 'just in case'.
And the BIGGEST tip of all;
FOOD!! Lots and lots of food!! hehe
If all else fails, feed them until they are happy. It occupies them and there are worst things (like having a breakdown 4 hours into a 14 hour trip) than having your kid snacking away!
I thought I was so organised, and packed small bowls and boxes of Shapes etc, they were totally impractical and even though we don't buy packaged products very often, this is one time I would be them! The small packets of popcorn and muesli bars were a hit, and so easy to distribute.
Other must have items are;
A rug for napping and comfort
A cuddly toy or comforter
Towels for the windows or shades ( I prefer the old fashion towel option, it blocks out much more light and heat)
Sing a long CD's or music
A First Aid kit
Plastic bags for rubbish or unfortunate sickness
Earphones for the parents (we travelled a night for the most part and I was able to listen to music, sing along and keep myself alert, whilst still keeping the car quiet and the kids and hubby asleep)
Toilet paper and perhaps a potty (for roadside toilet stops)
There are plenty of other things you could add to your Travel bags, including these gorgeous printables from a little delightful.
However there simply isn't enough traffic when you are driving from up here, but I will definitely look at including them next time.
All in all, the trip there was a breeze. We actually decided to leave after my husband finished work and departed at 5pm. Which meant we arrived at 7am to surprise our family. It was all worth it and even though we were tired and sleep deprived, the kids travelled well and it was less of a strain on them.
The trip home , however, was not as easy going. An air conditioner that decided to stop working 2 hours into the trip, cranky kids, sad to be leaving friends and family and a number of stops along the way. The trip took 15 and a half hours and was not pleasant.
BUT ... these things have to be done. And they are all worth it when you get to see and hug your family !