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Frugal Ways to Occupy Kids While Traveling

Guest post from Rachael of Nothing if Not Intentional

As the snow melts and ice thaws, many families look forward to getting away for a spring break trip or a summer vacation. And whether you’re road tripping to Grandma’s or flying to the beach, these travel plans often include long hours with little ones strapped into their car seats.

How can we occupy little ones who can’t yet read and don’t like to sit still?

Since my husband is a pilot, our family has had a fair amount of practice traveling with our young girls (7 months and 2 ½ years). We keep a small bag packed that is filled with special travel toys. This bag is updated before trips, and we don’t play with it any other time. This keeps the activities special and new.

Here are a few cheap, screen-free ideas to help you pack your travel bag of tricks!


With diapers, wipes, clothes, and bibs, babies require more than their fair share of luggage. Luckily, there’s no need to fill your car or carry-on with lots of toys.

Play peek-a-boo or let them giggle at the friendly passenger in the row behind you! Make sure the toys you do bring are easy-to-clean. Baby toys will likely end up on the floor or ground.

Other ideas:

  • paper or magazine pages to rip
  • a ball to drop or roll
  • rattles that are fun to shake and chew
  • a small photo album filled with pictures of friends and family members


It’s tough to keep a mobile toddler strapped into a seat!

Make sure they get plenty of exercise before they’re expected to sit still. Cruise around your boarding gate and do laps up and down the airplane aisle.

If you’re traveling by car, play a game of follow the leader that includes jumping, running, hopping, and skipping each time you stop.

Other ideas:

  • Finger puppets
  • Color wonder markers
  • Stickers
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • Magazine cutouts of pictures toddlers recognize (e.g. animals, food, vehicles)
  • Tape to squish, roll, and tear
  • Body parts book using pictures of child — see our book
  • Small foam blocks to stack, match, or encourage color/shape identification


Preschoolers still fidget and move, but you have the advantage of being able to engage their minds.

Encourage your preschooler to fix and serve a pretend feast. Talk about your child’s favorite memories. Ask your child to tell you his favorite story. Make up a story together. Let the imagination run wild since the body can’t.

Other ideas:

  • A tiny toy car or plane to drive or fly
  • Puzzles
  • Magna doodle or etch-a-sketch (from a dollar store!)
  • Bingo markers (also from a dollar store!)
  • Coloring sheets and printables
  • Camera (perhaps a real one you’ve retired? Kids love imitating parents and helping to capture memories and moments!)
  • Eye-spy books
  • Paint with water sheets
  • Busy Bags
  • Songs—“Wheels on the Bus,” “Old Macdonald,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

With all of these ages, bring snacks, offer drinks, pack a few books, and don’t forget your child’s lovey.

With a little frugal preparation, you’ll be on your way to a travel adventure the whole family can enjoy!

How to you occupy kids while traveling?

Nothing if Not Intentional started as a blog to share stories from Nate and Rachael’s ten trips to Guatemala. It is now an outlet for Rachael’s writing (she’s a former English major), and a place to share stories from their travels (Nate’s a pilot) and life with two young girls.

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Free ebooks: I’ll Follow the Moon, Beautiful Ballet, and 132 Delicious Salad Dressings

Download a free copy of I’ll Follow the Moon.

Download a free copy of Beautiful, Magical, Amazing Ballet.

Download a free copy of 132 Delicious Salads, Dressings, and Dips.

Thanks, Freebie Finding Mom!

Find more free ebooks over at eReader Girl. Be sure to follow eReaderGirl on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for the free daily email updates.

Please note that the price is currently $0.00, but that could change at any time. Be sure to check the price before checking out to verify that it is still free.

These ebooks are specifically for Kindles, but you can go here to download a free application that enables you to read Kindle ebooks on your PC. Unglued (Kindle version) by Lysa Terkeurst for $3.99

Get the Kindle version of Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst for just $3.99 today. Here’s my review of this book:

I’m pretty sure I’ve been living under a rock for years because Unglued is the first book by Lysa TerKeurst that I’ve read. And now I know why everyone loves her so much and what I’ve been missing out on for so long!

Lysa is real, she’s Southern (bless her heart!), and she calls it like she sees it. After you read her book, you just want to invite her over for a big glass of sweet tea and some girl talk. Because Lysa gets you. She doesn’t pretend to have her act together (I almost laughed aloud while reading about the missing toilet seat!) and her authenticity gives you hope and inspiration.

It just so happens that I read Unglued during a month where there were many extra burdens heaped on my shoulders — things I didn’t have control over and couldn’t just run away from, even though there were times when I really wanted to!

It’s easy to be all calm and smiles when life is going smoothly. But how do you respond when your boat is rocked and life is in upheaval? I got a whiff of just how much I need to work on patience as a result of some of that this month. It was humbling to have to go back and ask forgiveness from my husband and children time and again as I lost my temper or reacted out of frustration.

So Lysa’s words and encouragement couldn’t have come at a better time. I found it so beneficial to think through how I respond in different situations (Do I react? Or do I stuff? Or do I explode? Or somewhere in between?) and to seek the Lord to help me become more and more the woman who doesn’t come unglued in the midst of tumultuous times. I’m far from there, but it’s something that I’m working on — thanks to Lysa’s encouragement.

Thanks, Free Homeschool Deals!

Weekend Giveaway: $200 Shopping Spree from Mia Mariu (3 Winners)

If you love makeup and beauty products, you are going to LOVE this giveaway because Mia Mariu is giving away three $200 shopping sprees to readers here this weekend!

How cool is that?

Mia offers natural skin care, professional makeup artist quality mineral cosmetics and brushes, fine fragrances, and nutritional supplements all to help you create your own unique shade of beauty.

I had the chance to try out some of this makeup and have to tell you that I love the fact that this company is committed to formulating beauty products made with the most natural ingredients. I’m a Mary Kay girl because it seems to be the best suited for my skin type and issues, however I was truly impressed with the quality of this makeup.

Mia Mariu strives to blend nature and technology by combining the highest quality botanicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and peptides in each of their products. Their goal is to produce healthy products that provide a perfect balance and result in youthful, healthy, beautiful, glowing skin and renewed energy and vitality.

Psst! Mia Mariu offers the opportunity to start your own Mia Mariu business. Check out more details here. You can also host a Mia Mariu party and earn rewards for doing so.

Also, Mia Mariu would love for you to follow them on Facebook to be notified of their latest products and specials.

Would you like to win a $200 Shopping Spree to purchase anything on the Mia Mariu site? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Three winners will be chosen and posted on Tuesday. This giveaway ends Sunday, March 31, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

Reader Tip: Save More with Facebook Co-Op Groups

Meg emailed in the following tip:

I am always looking for ways to pay less than retail price for the items I buy every day. So when I heard about co-op groups on Facebook, I was intrigued — and they turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done to save money.

A Co-Op (or Co-operative) negotiates a wholesale price on an item by having it’s members combine their individual orders into one large order. For example, if I were to buy designer lipstick from a store, I might have to pay $15 per tube. However, the stores themselves only pay $3 per tube. In a co-op, because there are 50 of us buying lipstick, we are able to pool our money together and buy an entire case – and we get the price that the stores would pay. Even after paying shipping from the “host” (the person that places the wholesale order) to my home, I’m still seeing savings of 15% to even 80%!

I have had great luck with buying cosmetics, children’s toys, clothing, organic body products, craft supplies, clothing, and even household items through co-op groups.

Most groups on Facebook are “closed” groups, so just ask to join!

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and the only one you'll ever need! These cookies turn out perfectly every time!

Guest post from my sister, Brigette

I’ve made a lot of chocolate chip cookies over the years.

I remember being 9 or 10 and feeling so excited the first time I made them all by myself. I quickly discovered that if you know how to bake a good cookie, you will always have friends!

When we lived overseas for two years, I was able to build many relationships with the local children as a result of chocolate chip cookies — after introducing them to this American staple, they were quickly hooked, so they obviously had to keep coming back to my house since it was the only way to get more!

This recipe is one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes. I’ve adapted it slightly from a recipe from one of my all-time best girlfriends (Thanks, Elsie!). It’s traveled the world with me, and has consistently turned out in many different ovens.

These buttery gems are crispy on the edges and soft and gooey in the center. Not too puffy, and not too flat. Perfect.

It’s a pretty basic recipe with a couple of interesting additions. I don’t recommend making any substitutions or leaving anything out!

These cookies are so delicious. If you’re on the lookout for a better chocolate chip cookie recipe, you must give this one a try!

What are your favorite cookies?

Brigette is a full-time wife and mother who is blessed with three amazing bundles of energy (ages 6, 4, and 2). She enjoys music, experimenting in the kitchen, homeschooling her children, finding great deals, long-distance running, and anything chocolate.