Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vacation Life-Savers on a Budget

Usually when I travel with my two boys on a long trip I bring a bag of tricks, which include a few new items from the local toy store (or, Betty forbid, the dollar store).

But those were the olden days, before I upped the environmental awareness ante, before Al Gore's movie, before Betty, and before the no new-purchase buying pledge!

So before our trip, I eschewed the temptation to buy cheap, short lasting, high embedded energy doo-dads. Instead I gathered old crayons and markers from around the house, visited a local used book store and stopped by the Cville Market.

My first line of defense with the no-purchase pledge is "If you look, you will find it" - (I rearranged the "if you build it, they will come") This really works! Think of your attic, your garage, your kitchen junk drawer (I know mine is a veritable gold mine of goods: Old decks of cards, guitar picks, nails, pens, a corkscrew, a swiss army knife, matches - the list goes on).

So I gathered around a dozen markers and crayons and then printed off a few coloring pages on 100% recycled/recyclable paper for the boys.

Next stop the Book Room (in Shoppers World next to Whole Foods) - a great used book store I am embarrassed to say slipped through the cracks when making the directory (should be remedied promptly). There I found gently used I spy books, a dinosaur coloring book, a sticker book about nature and the seasons that had most of the stickers left, and a classic "A Hole is To Dig" by Maurice Sendak for half the cover price.

The final stop was Cville Market. The best kept secret here for moms in Cville, besides the ABC baguettes and other local food options, is their great snack section. I love it because they have some healthy, no or low-sugar options. (I realize I could spend the time in the store gathering the wheat chex, popcorn, nuts, and other snackie items, and jumble them at home, but this time we left on short notice) We choose a fabulous trail mix that lasted us a good two days.

I wrapped each item in the Sunday Comics that we save.

This is key. Not only are they delighted to open a surprise gift, we can also read the comics together afterwards!

The only backfire was when my youngest opened the second gift. I had wrapped what I thought was some long-forgotten toy from the basement thinking he would happily rediscover it. Wrong. "I've seen this lots!" my youngest wailed.

No worries. The breath mints I was saving for myself saved the day.


1 comment:

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

We do something similar when we travel.

The Trip Fairy puts books, art supplies, and other treats in my daughters' backpacks for them to discover when we get on the plane / in the car.

Sometimes the art supplies are just things we already had, but packaged differently than usual. Example: For one trip, I created a mini art pack for each child: I included paper in various sizes (most of it scavenged from our paper recycling bin), loose stickers we had on hand (instead of sheets of stickers), and other random things and put them into pencil cases that we had stashed somewhere.