I seem to spend a lot of my time in the car going somewhere. When we lived in a rural area, we had to make a 30 minute trip just to get groceries! I felt like the car was a second home in those days. Nowadays, we live in the city and everything is close by. However, I am court ordered to drive my children 800 miles one to two times a month to visit their father who lives in another state. This means a LOT of time in the car.
Do you do and your children spend a lot of time in the car commuting or traveling? Here are some frugal ideas to cut down on boredom and expenses.
If you have to make LONG trips regularly like we do, I really suggest buying a DVD player for your vehicle when you see a sale. We have 1 player and the children take turns watching a movie. Although I am no fan of encouraging TV viewing in children, I think that an exception could be made in a case like this. We rent movies for $1 from RedBox. This has really helped make our long trips more manageable.
Another variation of this is to get books on tape from the library. You can have your childern listen to them on long drives. My kids LOVE to listen to books on tape.
I also have a small duffel bag full of activities that I keep in the car. The duffel bag contains things like coloring books, colored pencils, inexpensive hand held games, and magnetic travel games. This has really helped if we are sitting in traffic or if traffic is stopped due to an accident. A word of caution though: DON’T put crayons in your duffel bag! They can melt and make a mess.
I purchase the supplies when I find a good clearance sale. I do go through the duffel bag often because it is easy for pieces to get lost in the car. For that reason, I’d advise against purchasing expensive car toys.
I also keep some water bottles and crackers on hand in the car. I find that if we get stuck in traffic or if we are out over meal time, the kids get cranky and hungry. If you should have the misfortune to have car issues and break down, some food and activities can do wonders for moral until the tow truck or a family member can come to “rescue” you and the kids.
What are some frugal ways that you keep your children happy during car trips?