When friends or family get ready to take off for a road trip, you can add to the fun and preparation by providing them with a road trip gift bag. You can choose from a variety of ideas, from a lavish entertainment theme, to a practical emergency kit, or a collection of tasty nonperishable food items. Just keep in mind the travelers' interests and preferences, and present the gift bag early enough in the preparation stage so the items will not be duplicated as the road-trippers shop for their journey.
Stuff a cloth shopping bag with a variety of nonperishable food items. Cookies and crackers in tins are a good start. To go with the crackers, consider including dried salami and/or aerosol-packed cheeses. Then add dried fruit, such as berries and apricots, and cans of assorted nuts. Pack a variety of candies, but stay away from chocolates, as they might melt in warmer temperatures. Little boxes of cereal are a nice addition for children.
Use a backpack to load up your traveling friends with some vacation reading material. Start with a good guidebook or two devoted to the areas they will be traveling through. Then add some books of crossword and other puzzles with a couple of pencils and a small pencil sharpener. A book of trivia also is fun for reading aloud from during a road trip. A few current magazines make a nice addition. And, be sure to include a travel journal.
"That's Entertainment" Road Kit
Some new music to listen to along the way is a welcome gift. A few books on CD can enhance time on the road; choose light humor or perhaps a good mystery. You also may look for sing-along CDs featuring songs familiar to the whole family. A particularly generous gift would be a small, portable DVD player for the kids, along with a selection of cartoons and family-oriented movies. Check with the parents first for acceptable ideas, and be sure to include lots of batteries.
Emergency Gift Bag
Put together an emergency road kit for a welcome gift bag. Some bottled water and energy bars make a good start. You'll want to include such standard items as road flares, a flashlight and batteries (or maybe light sticks), a small tool kit, a pocket knife, a tire inflator and pressure gauge, some duct tape and a first-aid kit. A nice touch would be a couple of travel blankets that fold up into their own tiny bags and can provide instant warmth.
Gift Certificate Gift Bag
For this gift bag, decorate a large brown envelope with appropriate stickers, and then fill it with gift certificates. Do a little research and find out what types of places are on on the travelers' route. Then, gather a collection of appropriate gift certificates. For example, you could provide gift certificates for free admission to museums, movie theaters or other attractions such as amusement parks. Find some chain-type restaurants that will be found along the way and provide gift certificates for those.
Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.