As I type this, I’m in the front passenger seat of the van on the last day of our road trip with a killer headache, ear buds in listening to NPR’s This American Life, and the kids are watching a Redbox movie while Michael drives through the southwestern portion of Tennessee.
All that to say – the best laid plans are meant to be broken and certainly require flexibility.
HOWEVER, the first leg of our trip was met with such energy and enthusiasm, and that’s when the car money worked best. It worked really well, too. The first leg of the trip is also when the kids are getting used to being in the car for so long and there's still some excitement about it all. So here’s how it all worked.
First, I discovered this play money online (there are more denominations, too), and found a couple of pictures of me and Michael to put in there. I edited the pics to be textured and green, and baddabing-baddaboom – car money. I then employed a certain 7 year old to cut them all out at home, which he was thrilled to do.
Then I went to the store and bought a bunch of snacks and activities, letting the boys pick out a box of snacks each.
The easier thing would have been to have prepackaged food, but some of the stuff wasn’t, so I divvied it all up into Ziploc bags. After I had laid it all out on the kitchen table, I was able to make this.
Notice that the healthy stuff is free and the crappy stuff and toys require purchase.
I had given them each a 3-bradded folder with a ton of printable road trip activities, like road trip bingo, coloring pages, license plate bingo, etc. (Google "Road Trip Printables", and you'll get a plethora of resources.) The boys kept their money in the pockets of the folders, and it worked out great.
The trick was to be pretty generous with payment so that they were excited about. All in all, it worked great! I just asked Samuel how he liked it all, and he gave it a resounding review.
Another trick is to save a box or a bag of "Car Store" stuff for the way home. I had done that, but we actually ran out because we dipped into it while on our trip, and it was a big-time drag. Stay strong.