After almost an entire month of vacation I am finally home. We spent about 220 hours just on the road, and two full weeks in Florida at my parents’ house. Even though we have done long road trips before, this was the first time we attempted to travel with a small baby. I didn’t think it would be much different, and I planned as well as I knew how to. Turns out we still had a lot to learn about going on long trips. Here are a few things I found to be the most important:
If you have more than four hours of driving to do, break it up as much as possible. We tried to ease the boredom by driving in the early morning – around 4:00 AM – until about 10:00AM and then stop and spend a good amount of time doing something fun outside of the car. Check online before you leave for interesting things to do in the areas you’ll be passing through. Then, after having had lunch and a few hours of recreation, we’d drive a couple more hours to the next town and then stop again for dinner. By doing this we were able to get a significant amount of driving done but still let the kids enjoy the day.
Be prepared for anything and everything. My family has adventures that are very similar to what you’d see on a National Lampoon’s Vacation movie. Because of that, I tend to pack accordingly. At one point in our trip we actually got lost on a foggy morning, took a wrong turn and got stuck in the mud and stranded. It was really scary when we couldn’t find a single tow truck company that would help us – for fear of getting stuck themselves. Thankfully I had plenty of water, baby supplies, food, towels, blankets, and toys to keep us satisfied until we could finally be rescued. It only took a couple of hours, but it could have been worse.
Sit in the back seat once in a while. If you have enough room in the car, have one of the adults sit with the kids for a while. I noticed that sometimes the baby would be fussy despite being fed, changed and recently napped. When I sat next to him and gave him some attention he immediately perked up. Sometimes the kids will be bored despite having an abundance of toys to play with and they just need some attention. Sitting closer to them helps comfort them and makes the ride a little easier for everyone.
People think I’m crazy, but even with all of bumps along the way I still prefer an old-fashioned road trip to an airplane getaway. I love seeing all of the different towns and exploring with my children. If you take it slow and enjoy the ride it will be a memorable experience for everyone.