Ah, the summer family road-trip...the car is gassed up, the tire pressure checked, reservations are made, suitcases loaded, the dog has been taken to the boarder, and the destination punched into the GPS. Have we forgotten anything? As soon as the first "Are we there yet" is spoken, you'll realize that the phrase "getting there is half the fun" only applies if considerable planning has been done here too. There's the easy route--plug in a portable DVD player and let the kids vegetate in the back seat. Surely we can do better than this, Donna Rees thinks so. She is the author of The Old Schoolhouse's E-book, Travel Kits.
The book takes the concept a step further--instead of preparing surprises for your own family's trip, it actually suggests that you use Travel Kits to bless other families. This involves a lot more research and planning: how many children do they have and should each get the same gift? What size vehicle will they take (a small car necessitates small gifts)? If you choose to provide snacks, does anyone have food allergies? The book guides you through all these questions and more. The E-book's 93 pages covers the "how-to" of assembling a travel kit, pages of gift ideas, recommended books (to give as gifts), an origami lesson, and embedded links to tourism websites.
Another topic covered in depth is the presentation of the surprises: how they should be wrapped and what sort of "container" will you use to present them. Over and over the author stresses that blessing others does not have to be a financial burden on the giver--she has used freebies from the drugstore, dollar store finds, and newspaper comics as wrapping paper.
For the timing of this review, I did not have another family taking a trip so I had to work on a travel kit for my own son. I don't want to give away any specifics, but the author's ideas for magnets, cake pans and pill sorting boxes just got my creative juices flowing. I printed out my copy to read by the pool. The large pictures with black background and the text boxes with blue backgrounds used up a lot of ink and made the pages wrinkly, so you may want to read your copy on the computer.
I would offer one caution. There is a difference between showing hospitality (the focus is on the guest) and entertaining (the focus is on the hostess and her culinary skill). I can see where assembling and presenting these kits could become less of a blessing to others and more of a "see what I've done for you" thing. You don't have to be a Martha Stewart, thinking up clever packages and containers.
Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others is available at the TOS's Schoolhouse Store for $12.45. The download only took a few minutes with my dial-up service. There are plenty of other down-loadable products available and remember shipping is always free on physical products.
You can see what my fellow crewmates think about Travel Kits by clicking here .