Thursday, January 10, 2013

Road Trips with Le Bebe: Travel Series Part III

{Domestic} Flying with Le Bebe: Travel Series Part I 
{International} Flying with Le Bebe: Travel Series Part II 

Here it is. The final post to the series I meant to complete within a couple weeks. It's only dragged out a few months, but who's counting? I feel like this one should be a ton shorter because most of us with small kids have already taken some kind of driving trip and know what works for them. I'll just post some tips of things we've done on our multiple 8+ hours road trips with the B-man.

Things to pack the car with:
  • You're inevitably going to pack way too much. You'll give yourself concessions like, we'll have enough space, or but what if we need it? Listen. You're driving. There will be stores. You don't have to pack as light as you would on a plane trip, but remember that you will be schlepping all the extra shirts you packed just in case up to that hotel room. And, you'll be unpacking it. The worst part.
  • Water. I know that my own advice of saying there will be stores along the way sounds like it contradicts this, but water is necessary because, who wants to stop when the baby is finally asleep after crying just because you're thirsty? And to risk a wakeup? 
  • Snacks. For you and the nugget. We pack granola bars, chocolate (obviously) and trail mix for ourselves. Benjamin takes the same snacks as he does for plane rides: Goldfish, puffs, squeeze packs, Cheerios... typical kid snack fare.
  • Toys. We have a random toy hanging from the roof handle thing for B to pull on whenever he wants and toys strewn everywhere. I have a friend who plans before trips to take away some toys her son already owns a couple weeks before the trip so he can be reunited with them on the road trip. Kind of clever. For somewhat older kids, I saw a fun idea on Pinterest to create paper bags for kids to open each hour with random activities they are required to do. Sort of like a car obstacle course or scavenger hunt. Growing up, my parents bought us tackle boxes (like for fishing) and filled them with fun snacks, coloring books, word games, etc. This was before the hand-held video games and Walkman came out. Yes, I said Walkman. Don't act like you didn't have one.
  • Not so much packing, but wearing. Wear comfy clothes. I usually put B in a one-piece outfit or feet pajamas so he's nice and cozy and nothing is pushing on his belly like elastic from pants.
During your car ride:

  • Logically, you should leave around a normal naptime, if possible. It always helps that B is good and tired before we leave.
  • Make sure there was play time before the car ride begins. Transferring a kid from their bed to a carseat with no wiggle room is a recipe for disaster!
  • If older, talk with your kids. Make traveling a game and make it fun. Teach them how to read maps and about the places you're driving through. Play math games aloud. One of my favorites from teaching that I would often use if we were standing in line waiting for something (cafeteria, assembly, etc.) was to start with a number and continue from there. Ex: Start with the number of eggs in a dozen. Subtract the number of feet you have. Add the number of people in the car... etc.)
  • But since most of us aren't dealing with older kids, let's just hope they sleep. Hah. We play music and sing with B and I often sit back with him and play with him-- counting, singing, clapping, etc.
  • Minimize the stops for gas, snacks, etc. Plan ahead with a full tank of gas and all you could need in the snack department. 
  • With that said, take a long lunch break, depending on your distance. We usually spend at least 1.5 hours at lunch allowing B to roam a bit, stretch out, eat, bathroom breaks for us, etc. 
  • If your child is still in an infant carseat/carrier and you want them to sleep, I've found that covering their carseat with a breathable blanket (and leaving breathing room, too) can get them to fall asleep because there is little/no stimulation.
Okay, that's all I've got. I'm sure there's more, but for the most part, I think we are all in a groove with traveling with our kids and knowing their personal needs. B is much happier being able to see out in his convertible carseat than he was in the infant carrier, so we've been smooth sailing for awhile now. You may not believe it, but he was an absolute GEM driving eight hours straight from both Pittsburgh and Toronto in October and November. 

I liked writing these because it's a log of how we traveled with Benjamin and I think it will be fun to read back on as the years progress out of babyhood. 

Anyone else have any fun tips? We're always off somewhere, so we could use your ideas, too!


Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I just love that picture of B--like he's saying, "Yeah, it feels good to be in comfy clothes with no elastic pushing on my belly!"

katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]

I love that picture too. It's a total happy relaxed little B.

If Dave and I ever have extra $$, I am totally inspired by these traveling with Le Bebe posts. I want to be doing these kind of traveling with ma bebe trips pretty soon.


Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

I like a lot of your ideas and we use many too!

We've had the unfortunate experience of a child becoming motion/airplane/car sick at 9, 15, 20, and 22 months. I wouldn't wish it on my enemies.

We use large absorbant pads (20x20) to line the seat of the car seat. We cut holes in a large old towel to hang from the head rest to protect the car upholstery on the back and seat. We pack large ziplock bags for soiled clothes, a change of clothes for kiddo, and for the adult sitting with the child... these go in the car and not in the wasteland of the trunk.

Reading and small toy play is no longer allowed. That library book fine was steep! She is encouraged to look out the window for wind turbines and sing to music. Kid books on CD break up the monotony.

We wait at least 40 minutes after a meal (not a small snack, tho) before driving. This is our blow off steam and energy running around time. We often pack meals in a cooler and stop at rest areas because they have large grassy areas.

On the airplane, for children who are over 15 months, it's possible to let them barely eat until the plane has reached it's cruising height. Then we eat a dry, granola bar type breakfast and drink anything significant.

We drive the speed limit or less if a detour takes us off the highway and into town, with lots of turns.

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

Our family has a Daddy driver who likes to hurry up and get to where we are going, even if it is 12 hours away. I'm convinced he'd never know there were trees on the side of the road if I didn't occasionally point them out. So, we have found that eating meals, particularly lunch, in the car really helps save on time. We will often pack stuff to make lunches or if it's a multi-week trip (yes, we've spent 2-3 weeks travelling in the car with both kids!), then even going through a drive thru. Then when everyone is done eating, about 30 minutes later, we stop again. This stop is a bathroom break and stretch break (many rest areas have small playgrounds). This also allows us to clean up the lunch (and peanut butter smeared all over the legs of a certain little girl). When we get back in the car, it's nap time and they are ready for that transition! Eating in the car all started because we found that we were sitting to eat anyway, but then still needed to stretch after, so stops were taking 2 hours.

We love travelling in the car and do it often! When we start off Joel will ask if it's a "day night day trip"... yes, we've spent the night in the car at a rest area driving through the night before. Ok, sorry this is a long comment, I could add more, but I think you're right that everyone has to figure out what works for their kids/family. We do have certain things that are car trip only activities.