Thursday, July 22, 2010

TOS Review -- Travel Kits

For my first "official" homeschool product review I chose to read the e-book Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others by Donna Rees, which is available for $12.45 from the TOS Store. When I excitedly told Amélie that we were going to be using our first homeschool product for the year, she gave me a wry, not altogether happy look. School??? It is summer vacation! I can't say that she was exactly thrilled. However, when I explained that the premise of this book was to help come up with ideas for fun activities to do in the car, my often-antsy daughter decided that, perhaps, using this book wasn't going to be so bad after all!

Unfortunately, I didn't get this book before we went to Omaha earlier this summer. Fortunately, however, we do spend a lot of time in the car. We go to visit my grandparents every week, and even though the drive is just 40 minutes long, sometimes those 40 minutes are l.o.n.g.--especially when I have two whiny kids in the backseat! Once I started reading this book, I knew that my days of listening to backseat whining were, thankfully, numbered!

Travel Kits offers its readers a clearly-written, interesting, and extremely practical peek into how to entertain everyone from kids to adults on trips across the country or across the town. I am the type of person who excitedly jumps on board for some creative idea to do with my kids, and sometimes I even make it through the planning stage, but I often get bogged down in the creative idea's execution. Rees explains the process of creating a travel kit so cleverly and clearly that I sailed through the planning, preparing, and executing stages almost effortlessly!

First, Rees helps her reader think of creative, fun ideas for kids (and adults!) to include in the Travel Kit. She recommends several types of stores to visit to find fun items like hats, card games, gag glasses, and even shoestrings! I went to the dollar section at Target one evening and filled my cart with inexpensive, yet fun and creative items. On our weekly trek to my grandparents' house today, Amélie opened up a dry erase board, and Jack opened a little package of tiny plastic police officers and firefighters. After an initial fit from Jack (for some reason he thought there would be a superhero in the package??), both kids quietly played with their new toys the whole time. I was impressed!

Rees also suggests picking a hobby your child might be interested in, like performing magic tricks or knitting, and checking out an instructional book from the library to accompany a package of supplies. I think that for our next long trip I am going to provide Amélie with a book on origami and a stack of origami paper. We may only get paper airplanes whizzing through the car rather than origami cranes, but she will at least have fun trying it out!

Travel Kits also does a great job of explaining when and how to present the gifts to be included in the kit. The entertainment value of a gift can be stretched out even before it is given if you announce that the next gift can be opened once a chapter in a book is finished or a speed limit sign is spotted. Rees suggests some creative ideas on how to wrap the gifts for the travel kit and offers some fantastic suggestions on how to pack up the travel kit itself. I think that I am going to have a backpack for each child ready to go before we head out on a journey. I plan on keeping a stash of wrapped gifts and then pulling out an appropriate number of gifts to give them based on the length of the car trip.

Rees also provides links and names of multiple resources for families to refer to when creating their own travel kits. She includes links to printable games, maps, and puzzles, and she even added a page with links for the official tourism websites for each state! I plan on utilizing this resource next time we travel to a different state, or even as we travel within our own!

As I mentioned on my tryout review, I am not a huge fan of e-books (although, I must confess, I just bought a Kindle due to my sister-in-law's very bad influence), but if I would just take the pages shuffled loosely and dangerously in the file folder they are now in and punch holes in them to go in a binder, I think I would feel better about Travel Kit's status as an e-book. Other than the fact that this book is electronic rather than printed, I loved all of this book's creative and practical ideas. I am definitely going to keep this book nearby to refer to before we go out on a short trip or a long journey.

Bon Voyage!

If you want to read more reviews of this product written by other Crew members, just click here.

Disclaimer: I was given this product free of charge for review purposes. All views expressed are my my own, and I received no other compensation.


  1. Loved your review! Very well written & informative!
    ~ Cute background too! :)

  2. Hello from a fellow Crew member. I enjoyed your review! I know what you mean about 40 minute rides being l.o.n.g. We do it every week to go to church. I'll be using the ideas from Travel Kits to make it b.e.t.t.e.r. :o)

    Cara (aka Temberton)

  3. Nice job, Jill on your review! Love the title of your blog!

    From a fellow crew member....Amy Reese

  4. I'm stopping by from TOS, I enjoyed your review.