Family Gift Ideas:
OK Everybody, Get in the Car!

Family gift ideas - Places to go,
and things to do on the way.

Here are great gift ideas for family excursions. My kids were excellent travelers, and even the longest car trips were enjoyable pretty much all the way. Our secrets? Interesting destinations, stops along the way, plus comfort and amusement while we drove (and always, seatbelts buckled!).

Travel in Comfort - A family car ride, long or short, goes more smoothly with a few accessories. One of the following, or the whole collection, are helpful family gift ideas for traveling by car:

  • Clipboard for maps, directions and note pad

  • Trash containers for front and rear seats

  • Box of tissues and one of moist wipes

  • Travel mugs and holders, front and rear - add an organizer in the back seat, or get trays/drink holders that attach to front seat head rests. Drink holders are available for child car seats too.

  • Pillows and lap robes - at least one small pillow per kid (not too soft - a throw pillow is good), to double as a lap desk.

  • A sturdy box for the trunk (other family gift ideas can go inside), to keep small items from shifting around, and that jug of windshield washer fluid from tipping over.

  • A Motor Club membership such as AAA, Allstate, or those offered by credit card companies is a gift of security. In addition to reducing the hassle of roadside breakdowns, many motor club memberships include discounts on accommodations and other travel purchases.

  • An auto emergency kit may be the best gift of all, for when you need its contents, nothing else will do! Add a couple of flares or reflective triangles for extra safety, if the kit doesn't contain them, and a pack of assorted bungi cords for many uses.

In-Car Amusement - Car games make the miles fly by, so they're great family gift ideas for travelers. Guessing games, alphabet games, license plate games, and word games like Mad Libs are favorites that everyone can play.

The Klutz activity books "Kids Travel: A Backseat Survival Kit" and others will engage the kids for many miles. has a really good collection of song lyrics, travel bingo and other car games to print out and wrap as a gift. You'll find traveling ideas for babies, too.

Travelin' music and stories - make a few mixed tapes or CDs of songs that everyone will like (avoid a lot of cutesy baby stuff, Wagnerian opera, and hard rock!) Add one or two audio books - our family loves Rudyard Kipling's "Just-So Stories." Look for kids' tapes or CDs packaged with books, so kids can follow along with the stories.

Great Family Destinations - Tickets, passes, and gift certificates for a day of enjoyment are wonderful family gifts! You can arrange for one of their favorite family activities or introduce them to something they haven't tried yet.

  • Fun with animals - A Google search for your area (or possibly this directory) will show places that offer opportunities for interaction with animals. You'll find interesting family gift ideas ranging from pony rides and petting zoos, to carriage rides or glass-bottom boat rides and safaris to view wildlife in its natural habitat.

  • Whale watch - a close-up view of these awesome creatures will make it a boat ride that your recipient family won't forget! Kids under age 5 are usually restricted (offer a babysitter too, if you like). Here's a good resource for whale watch info: whale watch tours worldwide

  • A family membership at a museum, aquarium, or nature center will enable your recipients to visit frequently. Most memberships include a discount for special exhibits/events and gift shop purchases.

  • Pick your own produce - Nothing is more delicious than native fruit in season! A gift certificate to an orchard or berry farm will provide a healthful family day in the country and fresh treats to bring home. Many such farms offer tractor rides, hayrides, or special activities for the kids.

  • "America the Beautiful" National Parks Annual Pass - For day trips or vacation stopovers, a one-year pass admits up to 4 adults (children under 16 admitted free) - and it costs just $80. This can be many family gift ideas rolled into one!

  • Other Tickets and Passes! A show, concert, sports event, the circus, an amusement park or ski area - all great gifts for a family! For a one-child family, consider giving an extra ticket so the child can invite a friend (check that idea with a parent). Be sure to clear a date with Mom or Dad before you order tickets!

A Day at the Beach - In addition to a picnic basket and cooler, beach umbrella, chairs and towels, here's our Favorite Four gifts for beachgoers:

  1. Sand toys: pail & shovel, brick molds, cups, cones and other shapes for castle building
  2. Kites for one and all - a wonderful family hobby! Learn more at the Virtual Kite Zoo.
  3. Metal detector, and a container for unearthed treasures & shells.
  4. Season's parking permit or beach pass, where required

    Oh yeah...
  5. ...and sunscreen - of course!

Trip Album - On a family vacation, it's fun to designate a Scrapbook Editor to keep track of photos and sourvenirs. A digital camera is an outstanding gift for the family who doesn't have one. When your recipients have arrived at their destination, a supply of scrapbooking materials will provide a welcome rainy-day family activity as everyone contributes journal pages and mementos they've been collecting.

Car-trip comforts & activities,
and interesting destination gifts,
are well-chosen family gift ideas!

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