Anyway, to keep him happy on long trips, I keep my eyes peeled for bargain "junk" that I can give to him along the way to amuse him. The key is to always be looking throughout the year so you can pick up the real bargains. I try to find little figures, vehicles, books, and non-messy art projects in the clearance section at places like Target or Wal-Mart or Kohl's and then I just store them away for our next trip. To make the junk...I mean awesome new toys... more exciting, we wrap everything loosely in leftover wrapping paper scraps. The cool thing is that it doesn't matter if the paper is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Birthday, and it doesn't even matter if it totally covers the object. In fact, for little ones it's better to wrap loosely so they can open it on their own. For plane trips, I remove all packaging before wrapping to keep the bulk down, but this weekend we are doing a car trip, so I decided to wrap the presents whole because sometimes the packaging itself is cute:
For this trip, Jackson will be getting two presents on the way there, and two on the way back. The presents are: a tiny die cast bus ($.99), two Little Einsteins characters ($1.50), a book about Dora and Diego ($1.50), and a cool coloring book that "colors" with a non-marking crayon ($7.00). So I spent a grand total of $11.00, but the coloring book was the only real splurge, and even that was on clearance.
Our last car trip looked something like this:
Hour one (we usually leave for car trips around nap time): Jackson plays with toys and books, and eats snacks
Hour two (and three, if we're lucky - yeah right): Nap time!
After nap: Pit stop
After pit stop: Bribe Jackson back into car with the promise of a PRESENT! Jackson plays with new toy and eats more snacks
Desperation hits (part 1): Time for PRESENT number 2!
Desperation his (part 2): When times get REALLY desperate, we pull out the DVD player. We try to reserve this for the last hour of the trip - you don't want to bring out the big guns right at the start!