In preparing for our move, I set aside one box for each child. They could put whatever they wanted into the box and it would be kept off the moving truck. It would travel at their feet in our car while we drove across the country, it would come in the hotels with us, it would serve as their toy box in our new empty house until the rest of our stuff arrived. My goal for these boxes was two-fold: for the kids to feel control over some aspect of their lives during an otherwise hectic time, and to give them some responsibility (relieving me) for knowing what is important to them.
The contents were interesting. Most of the stuff was from around the house - books, crayons, sticker/coloring books, magnifying glasses, tape. Some of the stuff was new - I allowed them to request some things (Pez dispensers) and I suggested some things (a roll of gift ribbon and scissors). Over the course of the 2.5 days of the car trip, all the items were used. And, as I suspected, the ribbon and scissors were used the most. My preschool engineers tied, cut, taped, and created. Admittedly, messes were created (just like at home) but cleaning up was easy (scooping up small pieces of ribbon and dumping in the trash can at a gas station).
All in all, it has been a successful trip. We will be moving into our empty house soon, finding the local library, and generally exploring our new home town. And when we need a break from the new, I have the box of Magna-Tiles stashed in the trunk....because we can ALWAYS use Magna-Tiles.