Photo credit: Silvana Clark / RV TravlingMom

Photo credit: Silvana Clark / RV TravlingMom

Traveling with kids always produces the inevitable stop at a touristy gift shop followed by a plea such as, “Can I buy this?…Please? I really have to have this overpriced, tacky toy that will break by the time I get home.” In our family, we solved this problem by announcing ahead of time that we could certainly go into a gift shop, but it was only to look. (Somehow knowing in advance bypassed all the begging for items.)

Instead, we started a tradition of looking for heart-shaped rocks on any outdoor-oriented trip we took. Sometimes the rocks were more anatomically correct rather than Valentine-heart worthy, but they were heart-shaped nonetheless. Strolling along a pebble-covered beach gave us lots of possibilities, followed by  a democratic voting process to decide which one of our heart-shaped rocks deserved the honor of going home with us. We then used a permanent marker to label the rock with the date and location. The rocks are displayed on a very sturdy shelf in our entry way. At least once a month, someone stops by the shelf, picks up a rock and says, “Remember when…?”

What better (and cheaper!) way to preserve memories of family trips?