As a child the idea of traveling for Thanksgiving rarely crossed my mind, Grandma lived next door, and if “The Aunts” felt it necessary for the family to get together they would do the traveling. But now I am an adult and I live in Colorado, roughly 800 miles from home, and traveling is necessary if I want to see family.
Whether you travel every year or just when the whim hits you, I am sure you and your family have a few traditions in place already, whether its something fun like Grandma always bringing a squished pie, or something not like Mom stressing out over forgetting something needed. I know my mother actually came up with a jingle about putting the garage door down when we travel! Odds are you can think of at least three things that happen every Holiday Travel season, whether good or bad.
Here are some great Travel Traditions you will want to incorporate into each of your holiday trips.
The Travel Map. This is perfect for allowing kids the visual answer to the “Are we there yet” scenario, especially in a car. Start by getting a map of your route (can be drawn, printed or bought). Cover it with clear contact paper, and put a sticky arrow pointing to your path, the contact paper allows your kids to draw on the map with dry-erase markers. Plan out specific stops you and your family will make and mark them on the map. For example traveling from Boise Idaho to Salt Lake City we always stop in Burley at a gas station called “The Hub,” we have since I traveled with my grandparents at about the age of four, we get one of their sandwiches, a pizza, and almost always ice cream.
Start by teaching your kids how the map works, show them road signs and how to find out where they are. Then let your kids chronicle their adventures by giving your children a camera, don’t worry about the pictures of your left shoulder or of their shoelaces, if they are too young have them draw things they see along the path, anything from a hawk to a mountain to a city scape. After the trip put the pictures into a few pages of a “Map” scrap book. Make sure to write down the year! You can also include your map if you want, or save it to reuse next year. When your kids are older they’ll be able to see all the pictures they created and drew and recognize things and changes along their route.
The Collection. Set aside a few dollars for each child per stop to buy something, most truck stops sell bells, spoons, post cards, and shot-glasses with the city or state on them, during the holiday season there usually are some form of ornament as well to collect for the tree. Or you could “flatten a penny” in one of the machines along your route. Every year get a different one.
“Car”oling. This one is great for a little while, but should be used in moderation because most every family I’ve ever talked with says someone gets frustrated with it and blows up. So plan on only singing a few songs at certain points of your journey. Sing ones everyone knows the words to as well so no one is excluded. Don’t worry if someone has the words a little wrong or makes up their own.
Holiday Stories. This one can be altered a few different ways. Each person in the car can cycle through with a line of a made-up story, or if one person can read in the car they can read their favorite holiday story. Again, be careful how much to do with your family, Tommy might love it but Jill can’t stand it, let Jill sit it out, or listen to music on her mp3 player.
Snack Pictionary. I would not recommend these for young children or if you have fears of getting your car messy. Using crackers and canned cheese “draw” different designs on the cracker and have your kids guess what they are before eating them, or if your willing, have them draw their own. Alternatively have sugar cookies and use the small screw-capped frosting for the kids to draw their masterpieces on them.
Ornament Decoration. This craft is relatively mess free, just markers or crayons and cardboard cutouts of ornaments from a hobby store.
Remember that the meaning of tradition is “the continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.” Simple things can become traditions easily, but no matter what traditions you have in your family make them special to you and yours.