Happy #FrugalFriday everybody! What a crazy week it’s been at the Saver house! Between 4 sports practices, school, and small group, our heads are spinning. It’s truly a wonder my head is still attached and I’ve been able to zombie my way through cooking an edible meal this week. So, if you’ve read any past posts, you know we are Disney fanatics (kind of) and are officially counting down the days to our 4th Disney vacation! Only 78 days to go…and I’ve already started planning for this 16 hour trip with our 2 kids. My first task was to get Dollar Store Travel gifts for kids. We tried this last year and it was awesome. This is my FrugalFriday tip this week and it will save your sanity if you’re road trippin’ with children.
Last year was our 3rd trip to Disney World and our first time driving. I was so nervous with two little kiddos in the car for a 16 hour, 2 full day car ride. I did tons of research and one of the absolute BEST ideas I found was this one I’m sharing today. I have no idea where I originally found this (that was back before I started blogging), but it worked perfectly.
I was so excited for this project, that I have already purchased all the items, ordered them, wrapped them all today, and hid them in the closet. They will sit there for 78 days until we leave and I’ll get to share in my kids enjoyment as they open them!
Here’s what we do:
Budget for Dollar Store gifts when you put your Vacation Budget together
We set our Disney Vacation budget a year ago when we planned our trip. We brainstormed every expense and included about $40 for Dollar Store gifts. We have 2 kids, so that’s $20 per kid. If you have more kids, try budgeting about $20 per. If you want to include a couple more expensive (I’m talking like a couple $4-$5 gifts), budget accordingly.
Visit multiple Dollar Stores before your trip and start collecting gifts.
This is the fun part! I picked Ryan up for his lunch break last week and we spent an hour of fun times at the Dollar Store exploring and picking out games and toys for each of our kids. We has SO much fun doing this. Our full stash from the first trip is the first picture up top. We found some of the most awesome things! Travel games like checkers/tic-tac-toe and bugs & ladders. We even found a travel connect 4 game and one of those peg board games you see at Cracker Barrell restaurants!
Get a variety of games and toys.
We decided to get half the gifts as games and half the gifts as toys…once we realized how many awesome game-type & coloring activities were at the store. This way, we can alternate a busy car activity and a toy gift. Our goal is to keep the kids occupied and excited about traveling. Here’s the loot from my second store trip! I even found some very cute small crates to fit in the back seat for the kids to store their activities and toys during the trip.
Get similar type/size items for each child to give them at the same time.
If you get one child a coloring puzzle, maybe try a coloring activity or puzzle for the other child. If you give one child a toy figurine, get a small figurine or similar item for the other child. This will help you avoid fights and the dreaded, “it’s not fair” whiny comments. Our kids are ages 5 & 7, so they love these things. You can also find some creative gifts for older kids such as hair accessories, fun storage bins, trading cards, journals, and books. No matter how old your kids are, chances are they will love whatever surprises they get. You’d be surprised how fun a goofy kid’s game is after you’ve been stuck in a car for 7 hours. Anything would be entertaining at that point!
Once you get all the gifts you need (about 1 gift for each 1.5-2 hours in the car), lay them out and put them in order.
When you lay them out, you can put them in the order you want to give the kids along the trip. As I mentioned we decided to alternate busy activities with toy items. I took a piece of paper and numbered all the items. For example: Gift #1 princess coloring puzzle + a spiderman coloring puzzle (one item for each kid). I went all the way to 14 sets of gifts for our kids on this trip.
Wrap the gifts in fun paper after you’ve got them in order.
This was my task for today! I LOVE gift wrapping, so I sat in the living room while the kids were at school and got to work. I wrapped the gifts and used a sharpie marker to write the kid’s name on the front and the # of the gift. For example, I wrapped the princess color puzzle, wrote Tink’s name on it and #1. I wrapped the Spiderman color puzzle, wrote Tyke’s name on it and #1. Repeat until your sets of gifts are all wrapped. I don’t use fancy wrapping or bows, as they’ll be unwrapped in a whirl of hurry in the car and the more ribbon/bows you put on them, the more trash you’ll have in your car.
See your kids explode with joy and excitement as you surprise them with a new gift in the car every 1.5-2 hours!
Our Disney Vacation was a complete surprise to both kids last year, so they had no idea they would get gifts along the way. The LOVED them. This year, they know they are getting gifts again and it’s really helping build some anticipation for the trip. They are actually looking forward to the 16 hour car ride! With my daughter potty training last year (I’m so glad we’re past that now!), we were obsessive about stopping at a restroom every 2 hours. We literally bribed our kids to get out and use the bathroom every 2 hours by giving them a new gift when they got back into the car. It was awesome.
Just make sure to bring a trash bag for the car to collect the wrapping paper and toy wrappings!
Happy travels if you’re off somewhere soon! For the next 78 days, I’ll keep you posted on our progress with trip planning. I’m also putting together fun activity binders for each child with age appropriate activities, so I’ll post about that later. Do you have a travel tip for kids that is amazing? If so, please share in the comments below!