Road Trips

I am making an 1100 mile trip in a couple of weeks. I have a 5 year and 14 month old twins... I will be driving by myself, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

The key to making our trip bearable was following the girls' schedules. I luckily had my brother to travel with me, so at every pee stop I could take my three year old in and leave the twins in the car (of course they were only 8 mos).

**Keys to remember**
  • Go to bed early the night before. Early to bed, early to rise.
  • Get as early a start as possible. This gets a chunk of driving out of the way with minimal "Mommy..." It also allows you to stop earlier in the day to do a little swimming or something like that.
  • Keep the kids' normal schedules.
  • Stop at fun places. IE, playplaces for lunch, motel with a pool for the night.
  • Get as much done the night before as possible. Showers, gas, pack the car, etc. We packed an "on the road" bag to take into the motels with just the basics. We didn't fully unpack the car until we got where we were going.
  • pack a cooler. Don't let the little ones drink too much, though. I only let my daughter drink at mealtimes. I made enough milk for the entire car trip (one way). Or you can buy concentrate.

Here is a rough schedule of what we did...

  • 3:30am - get up and get ready to leave. Often this turned into 4-4:30am! The key is to get as much driving as you can in the am. I would get a cup of coffee and get on the road ASAP.
  • 4:00am - get on the road. I always tried to drive about 200 miles, which turned out to be about 3 hours, before I stopped.
  • 7:00am - breakfast. Stop somewhere your kids will like. I always ordered an egg and sausage biscuit wherever we went and took it apart for my daughter. Be sure to look at your map to see about where you'll be. If you are going down I-95 or I-75 and I-4 in FL, then there will be plenty of places often, since this is the routes that the truckers take. Plan on each mealtime taking an hour. This is how it was for us, but I fed the babies, which might have slowed us or sped us up, I don't know!
  • 8:00am - back on the road. The kids should be happy and full until lunch. Demand that at every stop anyone that doesn't have a diaper has to at least try to go to the bathroom. Oh yeah, on that note...Sometimes the bathrooms are messy/wet/gross so it was difficult to wash hands (I can't imagine with three walkers!!!) Go to bath and body works in the mall and get some of their antibacterial hand lotion. You put a drop about the size of a dime on their hands and rub it in--just the same as washing with soap and water!!!
  • 11:00am - stop for lunch. Definitely find a place where the kids can run off some of their energy. Since it is really hot right now, it might be good to find a place indoors, if you can. Again, expect to spend about an hour. I tried to spend just that amount to keep myself on a rather normal schedule.
  • 12:00pm - on the road again. I usually got a nap out of everyone on this leg. Although it was usually the longest, because I knew that it was the final leg for the day. I also kept my daughter quiet with promises of swimming at the motel before dinner. I know this part might be a little difficult for you, but maybe you can find a playground or something else to entice them instead. We even moved to a different motel one afternoon, getting our money back from the first, when we saw there was no water in the pool. So check first. :-)
  • 3:00pm - stop for the day. It is a good time because you can unwind, relax, have dinner, get ready for the next day and go to bed early. Since we were all in the same room, My brother and I went to sleep at the same time as everyone else (around 830pm or so). This was late for the kids, but early for us. We usually had no trouble falling asleep--and you can always bring a book.

This was our schedule only because the babies took bottles at 7, 11, 3, and 6. Adjust to whatever normal schedule you have. I really can't stress how important it is to leave early in the morning so that you can get done early. We didn't do this the first day and that was our worst day. You have the benefit of my 6 days of driving experience! The good thing is that since you only have 1100 miles to go, you can go 600 miles the first day and finish the second with the extra time to unpack the whole car or relax by the pool or take a nap with your kids (yeah, right).

I had a mishap with a piece of metal in the road the first day that could have ruined the entire trip, but I didn't let it. Remember to bring lots of toys they can play with in the car. Either MagnaDoodle or a wax board with that plastic pencil and plastic sheet or something like that are great!

Sounds like a *long* trip :-) Highlight the rest stops on your map & make a reservation at a motel about half way. Seriously, it's been so long since mine were that little that I'm not sure I remember how hard it can be. And we never tried such a long trip when they were that little - and certainly not by myself!

One thing that may make it better - my family used to travel a lot by car while I was growing up, and we still do now that I'm the mom. Try to get off the freeway and stop in the small towns instead of the rest stops. Every small town in America has a city park. Stop and ask directions if you need to, take a blanket, food & drinks for yourself and go kick back in the shade of a tree. It just feels so much more peaceful than stopping along the freeway. Plus when the kids get older there's always a playground.

When we first came down here to Florida we drove from Pittsburgh with my mother's car(a station wagon). So, of course, we also had to take it back to her in 2 weeks, and then come down with my car(a Celica). So, I would say we are pretty seasoned travellers with little ones-they were between 16 and 18 months for all of these trips.

For the first trip there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth-ours and theirs. The second and third trips went pretty smoothly.

What helps: lots of food and drink-both for them and you. We pretty much always had drinks and food available for them-yes it did get all over the car too, but it cleaned up pretty easily-and the car seats were washed too. Finger food works well: mini bagels, banana pieces, Cheerios, etc.

I also like to start the drive around naptime so that they fall asleep and are asleep for a while (sometimes works). I also like to drive for several hours after they fall asleep at night (usually 8p.m.). We did the drive in 2 days, stopping at a lovely Holiday Inn in Rock Hill SC.

It's important to stop every 3 hours or so to change diapers-because they are drinking so much and because my girls wet a lot anyhow. We always travel in overnight Huggies too. Arrange to stop at places where they can run free-a McDonald's with a play place or a rest stop with lots of grass and trees. Be prepared for some wailing when you put them back into the car!!!

Bring many changes of clothing.

I also kept a lot of their favorite toys in the backseat with them. Sometimes this entertained them, sometimes not. My husband likes to make faces at them or move his mouth w/o talking-they really get a kick out of that! Laughing helps. [See the Air Travel FAQ for more toy ideas.]

Now that we have my car down here-we fly back and forth-which is a challenge too. My girls just hate being confined to a seat on a plane-I don't think they understand that it's like a car.

Our first outing of more than four hours is this coming Fourth of July. We'll be transporting 100% nursing boys who will be at that point, 18 weeks old. In a car. For 8 hours.

I'm headed to do my reading, but would be interested in all the things that you've learned the hard way that you had wished you'd known beforehand. At this point wisdom along the lines of "take naps," and "learn time management," mean more to me than I ever thought they would.

The first trip we took with our twins was when they were 4 months old (almost 2 mos corrected age) for an 8 hour trip also. That 8 hours is 8 non stop hours - it took more like 12. Actually, the trip went beautifully!!!! Better than I could ever expect. I also nursed both exclusively, and also had a 4 1/2 yr old son. The girls either slept, or just looked around in between feedings - we never had a screaming spell, either direction. We would stop to feed them, and let our son stretch his legs too. We brought sidewalk chalk, and other activities to keep him busy during feeding time.

The hardest part about the trip was packing! My husband swore I brought everything the girls owned! The were still on their heart/apnea monitors, which made packing all the more fun considering I took an extra monitor along just in case of a break down.

Traveling with your young twins is possible, and they may even surprise you and make it enjoyable!!! Enjoy it before they can ask every 2 seconds, "Are we there yet????"!!!

My girls have been wonderful in the car. We just got back from driving from Connecticut to Chicago and back. My 10 week old babies slept most of the way and are even sleeping a little better at night now even if night doesn't start until after Midnight. (Last night was not good however. One was up till 3:30!)

We left at 5:30 pm and drove to Syracuse last Wednesday night and stayed with friends. (They happen to be parents and grandparents of twins. ) We arrived there at 9:30 pm.

We took off around 10:00 am Thursday morning. We arrived at my SIL's in Michigan at 11:30 pm.

My husband's cousin's wedding was at 6 pm in Chicago on Friday night. We went to the Inglesina US distributor first to get parts for the used double stroller we bought and ended up missing part of the wedding. My husband was still in shorts. I put my dress on on the way. Chicago Friday night rush hour traffic is horrendous. We do now own a brand new Stroller though with all the fixin's. We can even put 4 seats on it. Both babies wanted to eat when we arrived at the church and I'm nursing exclusively. I tried some formula but one didn't want anything to do with it. The other played with it a little but wasn't thrilled. This was the worst part of the trip. They've only had formula one other time (when I was taking narcotics for my CS and we fed them formula one night to try to get the drugs out of me). Then we raced to get me set up in the hotel so my husband could go to the reception.

He got in after 3 AM Saturday and left to play golf at 7:30 after being up for an hour that night to help with burping and changing. We spent the afternoon at his relatives and arrived back at his sister's at close to midnight. We didn't leave until 2:30 pm Monday afternoon and arrived at Niagra Falls at 12:15 AM. Of course the hotel lobby got locked up at midnight and we had to go next door to the Holiday Inn to find someone with a key. The Holiday Inn is buying this place and had a master key and found us an empty room and left us with the master key. It's a good thing we're honest.

We left the falls at around 2:30pm Tuesday and arrived home at around 9 pm.

We've always done a lot of car traveling with our older daughter and she's always been good in the car. I'm sure the hotels had to wonder at what we left in the garbage with 3 kids in diapers. She is thinking about potty training but I think stopping to use the potty would have made it a much longer trip.

All in all it wasn't too bad a trip even if my MIL just shakes her head at how far we went with the wee ones. The worst part is trying to shift night time to before midnight.

The twins are pretty effective nursers. They spit up a bit but it really doesn't take them too long to eat. I can't imagine doing it without my dh or another adult.

We're home for a while but then off to North Carolina in a couple weeks. That's a 10 hour drive without stops. I think we'll go down in 2 days visiting friends and relatives on the way but we'll probably drive back in one long day.

James- 8 hours could be a piece of cake. We're very lucky to have such good travelers. I wish you luck. I also really appreciate the space we have in our suburban. We loaded everyone in the wagon last night and felt very claustrophobic.

Follow-up from James:
The trip was from hell.

We turned a fairly benign trip into a nightmare. Left after she stole away from work, say, 3:30. Went to OKC Lil' Things, to pick up a play pen, and a frame style backpack. They had neither of the models some woman I married insisted we needed. So, to compensate with this brutal disappointment, we had dinner in OKC, at a frightful Red Lobster. It was fair to mediocre, but were good when my wife returned her dinner twice. (Overcooked, and mush.) We pulled into the hotel at 4:00am.
I drove the entire trip.

We had a wonderful time introducing the boys to swimming, and to the Beale street music scene. BB Kings has the best fried pickles, and how. The best part of the trip was on the fourth, after gorging on ribs, we sat out on a hill and watched the tree above us sway in the wind, ala "Phenomena" (sp?) Went home and napped.

Return trip was also a nightmare. Went 2.5 hours out of our way to hit Tulsa Lil Things, at suggestion of salesdrone. Tulsa Lil things closed, Baby Superstore bought by Toys R Us, changed hours. Missed by 1 hour. Ugly arguement.

Trip out, and trip back, normally about 7 hours. With twins, 12 hours. Long time on road.

Lessons learned--stop at gas station. She potties, & nurses. I do diapers, gas up car, clean windows, and burp babies. I drive. She keeps me awake. She announces stop, if we've gas, and babies want on at same time, I read. Took damned near all the out trip to figure this nonsense out. Oh yeah. I'm also incharge of getting water for her. Geeze, a nursing mother needs lots of water. (duh.)

Thanks. Oh yeah. The Titanic--it sunk. Got more from research on the net. First strike out in Memphis yet. Hope Peru is better next year.

Just made reservations for a week for a housekeeping cottage in the north woods--our first "family" vacation. Only problem is, the cottage is about 360 miles away and I have to somehow get my pair of virtually-two-year-olds up there.

Shame on me for not paying more attention to previous threads, but I'd appreciate recommendations for road trips with kids of this age.

I'm thinking the best plan of action would be to leave at around 4 in the afternoon, all have dinner together somewhere on the road, and arrive at our destination around midnight. Kids could sleep in the car while the adults drive.

Oh, I wouldn't count on that. We make a 475 mile road trip to Buffalo about 3 times a year and our last trip was last month. Our kids stopped sleeping in the carseats at about one-year old. Now that they are 2 they get all excited and won't sleep a wink.

One trip last Fall was a nightmare because we thought if we drove through the night they would sleep and just wake up in Buffalo. Boy, were we wrong. They were up most of the time and even if they dozed off, whenever we stopped for gas they woke right up.

Now we drive during the day and make sure we stop for a solid hour at least twice to let them run around. We always go to a Burger King or rest stop where they can run all around and be kinda nutso. That seems to work fine -- they are really very good up until the last hour (takes 10 hours with all stops). And they will nap during their regular nap times , only very short naps though.

Oh, and if I make the mistake of telling them we are going to Gramma's house when we first leave, I have 10 hours of "Gamma's house yet?, wan Gamma now!" And of course every woman and man we see over the age of 50 brings on squeals of excitement "Gamma, PaPa!"

We just took a family vacation which went really well. The girls enjoyed the trip, and were even pretty good the day we came home, starting with a 9:45 ferry on the Isle of Skye (Scotland) and ending in Southampton (on the southern coast of England) around 1:30 am. The one thing that helped with sleeping on the way home (they kept asking us to stop for another new room) was putting them in their pjs. This really seemed to signal that it was time to sleep, even if they weren't in bed.

We took what was normally about an 8 hour drive when my girls were about 8 months old. We left around 4 am (they were still sleeping) and stopped when they woke up to feed and change diapers. We stopped about every two hours just to get up and out. It made the trip longer, but I think it helped to move around. Half the car was packed with stuff to keep them amused.

The following September when they were 14 months old we took a 5 hour drive. Again, we left early in the morning, putting them in while they slept. We timed it to get to a family restaurant by breakfast time. We changed and dressed them in the van, then went in to have breakfast. Again, we packed A LOT of stuff to keep them busy.

We have followed this pattern each time we have a long drive ahead of us.

I think that it's easier with just the two the same age. They pretty much have the same demands and can interact with each other. The girls just turned seven yesterday. Each year the traveling gets easier as they can entertain themselves and each other better.

I don't know how my parents drove cross-country with four kids!

Some other ideas for older kids:

When we travelled by car when the girls were very young, we strung across the car (window to window) this chain-link-with-clothes-pin device (sold as a way to neaten up a room and meant to hang vertically rather than horizontally). It was within reach but didn't swing into their faces. Then we hung various baby toys, mostly soft stuff.

When they got older I bought a cup n' stuff holder from Pep Boys (an auto supply store). It can sit on the floor, but I put it between the girls and used the middle seat belt to secure it. It has two cup holders and a storage well big enough to hold plenty of stuff.

More hints:

Those boxes that wipes come in can be reused to hold lots of things. We especially use them to hold crayons and markers. Warning: crayons melt into the upholstry in really hot temperatures!

Using clipart, I made my own "search" games for them. I put several images on each piece of paper such as a car (you can use 'most any graphics package to make the car an assortment of colors) or any animal, or other object (hot air balloons, etc). Make up several pages for each child. Then they can circle or X off what they've seen. If you want to get really involved you can use your desktop publishing package or graphics package to create highway signs (such as route signs, speed limit signs, exits, etc) to be included. If you know what is going to be on your route, you can include specific restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

If your car or van doesn't have a tape player, get one and take along music. You can usually get an adaptor that plugs into the cigarette lighter if you are concerned about batteries.

Once you are in the hotel: We used our camcorder as a vcr. Check the cables that came with yours, it might be an easy thing to plug the camcorder into the hotel's tv. We take short tapes as well as the longer Disney favorites.

My husband made up a "goodie" bag. He filled a small bag with smallish toys (stickers, plastic figures or animals. Some where McDonald's toys he had saved from Happy Meals). Each time we were ready to get going after a pit stop the girls got to reach in for a small surprise. If we got stuck in traffic then the bag came out then, too.

Here's a game for all but the driver:

"Riddle me, riddle me, riddle me me,
I see something you don't see
And it's ....(one clue)"
Then each would take a turn on guessing what it was.

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