It’s summertime, which for many families also means traveling so it’s time for some awesome road trip activities that will keep the kids busy on those long trips!
We are a big traveling family — for as long as I can remember, we’ve taken a summer vacation. When I was younger, my parents would toss all three kids (along with a heaping pile of pillows and blankets) into the back of the station wagon. Yep, no seat belt laws back then. Sometimes we’d visit family and other times we would head someplace new and exciting.
Now we do the same thing with our kids, toss them in the car for some amazing road trips (still a heaping pile of pillows and blankets but now seat-belted in the back).
And one other thing that hasn’t changed over the years — gathering souvenirs from our travels.
Road Trip Activities: Travel Bags & Buckets
I’m sure you’ve experienced it too. Kids LOVE to collect things when they’re on vacation.
Shells from the beach, rocks from a hike, that cool bendie straw and coloring placemat (with the crayons) from your dinner out, postcards, stickers — I could go on and on.
After a few years of returning home to the questions of “Mom, where’s that rock I found when we climbed the mountain?” or “I can’t find the stickers that I got from Mickey!“, we came up with a great solution for how to keep track of all those fun souvenirs while we traveled.
Before we hit the road (or head to the airport), the kids make their own souvenir keepers for the trip.
If we’re driving, we opt for creating travel buckets. We love the size and the fact that they are sturdy enough to hold heavy items such as rocks (I have two big rock hounds) and also have a handle. Since buckets aren’t great for plane travel, we’ll purchase blank canvas bags instead when we’re planning to fly.
This is also a great road trip activity if they want to decorate them in the car or on the plane — keeps them busy for quite a while!
Here’s the supply list and all the details for creating your own bucket or bag. We’re also including affiliate links to the items we used for the activity for your convenience:
- Sharpie Markers or permenant markers
- For the buckets: Assorted travel stickers along with a sheet of alpha-numeric stickers (letter & number stickers)
Make a Travel Bucket
For the buckets, let your kids decorate them with the stickers. We usually purchase an assortment of vacation-themed stickers for the trip.
Use the letter stickers to label the lid with your child’s name and destination. I also suggest putting a date on the bucket as if you vacation each year — it’s a nice way to track your travels and makes a great display option (we keep our on a shelf in the playroom).
Create a Travel Bag
If you want any iron-ad patches for the bags, attach those first. Then let the kids decorate the bags with the fabric makers.
As with the buckets, make sure to include your child’s name on the bag (my daugher likes to put hers on the handle) and also your vacation destination and dates for travel.
Our Travel Bucket from a vacation that included 14 family members — signatures from everyone including a great-grandmother who passed away a few years later.
Travel Souvenir too!
If you happen to be traveling with extended family, your bucket/bag also becomes a wonderful scrapbook for the kids. Bring along the Sharpie/permenant markers on your trip and have all family members sign the bucket or bag!
This is a wonderful activity for two reasons — first, it creates an ice-breaker for the kids if they haven’t seen relatives for a while. Asking family members to sign their souvenir keeper will be a big conversation starter. The second reason I love this activity is when you return home, you have hand-written signatures for everyone who was on the trip.
This can be such a special momento in and of itself — both of my kids have the signatures of grandparents who have sinced passed away and it’s really just such a special keepsake.
And if you’re not traveling with family, the kids can ask people they meet on their trip to sign their bucket or bag — my kids are always making friends at the pool, campgrounds or beach. And we always run into the friendliest people at national parks and such that would love to help kids record their best memories.
Fun Vacation Books for Kids
And what’s a vacation without a few awesome books to read on the trip! We’re sharing a few of our favorite books about family vacations to go along with creating your souvenir bucket or bag:
One of my daughter’s favorite books is The Night Before Summer Vacation. It’s a funny book about the craziness and chaos of getting ready for a family vacation (and yes, our house resembles a few pages of this book as we prep the car and break out the suitcases 😉
Another wonderfully enjoyable read is Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey. The story follows the ordinary and extraordinary days of two sisters who are vacationing on a Maine island with their family. I love the title of the book as I think every vacation is truely a ‘time of wonder’ for children.
And one of our favorite summer read-alouds is The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (it’s actually a series of books so if you enjoy this one, keep reading!).
Spend some time with the Penderwicks as they get ready to head to their vacation home, meet some new friends and have a few adventures. We have read and re-read this book series for three summers as we enjoy it so much!
MORE ROAD TRIP ACTIVITIES:
Make sure to pop over to the great blogs to see what fun travel activities they are sharing too!