Road Trips with the Kids

Friday, August 15, 2014

I am currently with my family, taking our third road-trip of the summer. Maya, our six month old, is getting trained HARD at what it means to be a part of this traveling circus!

In June, we travelled to Ottawa and Montreal to celebrate the end of the school year (and the end of grinding routine!)
In July, we travelled to Buffalo, NY to hang out with one of my longest standing friends.
In August (now), we are traveling to New Jersey to visit family and introduce our new member.

Ottawa and Montreal = 649 kms
Buffalo, NY = 159 kms
NJ = 834 kms
One. Way. Distances.

By the end of all of this... when it is all said and done... we will have traveled 3,286 kms round-trip.

(I just figured this out now, and I am shaking my head at myself).

To be honest, our first trip was ROUGH. When people asked us how it went, all I can say was that it was exhausting, but it was good to be together. There was seriously nothing relaxing about the trip (okay, maybe that we got to stay in hotel rooms where I don't have to make the bed. But even then, when we are all in one room, I pretty much end up sleeping with one eye open).

The second trip, I knew what to expect with Maya, so it was a little bit less horrible.

This trip, so far, we haven't made it to our destination yet. In planning this trip, we decided to break the journey down in half. We remembered the trip back from Montreal a little too well. First, we decided to rent a bigger car – scored a Nissan XTerra for more comfort, for cargo space and just less wear-and-tear on our own car, driving down to Buffalo to pick it up (renting cars are wayyy cheaper in the States. Plus! Make sure you use the Costco rate. I got this beauty for $284 for one whole week). We drove our own car to my family's house, just outside of Buffalo and left it for the week. Then we traveled to our half-way point: we booked a hotel through Priceline (BIDDING ALL THE WAY, BUDDY! $60 for a hotel running $199.99 for its web-rate), and made it down to Syracuse, a 4 hour drive away from home, like it was NOTHING.

What I've learned:

  • Nursing your baby? Pump your milk and have a bottle handy for whenever your baby is cranky. Hardly heard a peep from her. And you don't have to stop the car to feed her.
  • Pack sandwiches and drinks for your kids for mealtimes so you don't have to get out of the car to eat. Having to get out of the car to eat KILLS your travel time. And if you don't know me, I am ALWAYS racing against time when I am traveling.
  • Part 2 of the point above... I hate crumbs in the car, so eating in the car doesn't make much sense... but I have my children hold containers while they eat to catch what they can. It's not perfect, but at least there's an effort.
  • Every time you do stop at some kind of rest stop, MAKE YOUR CHILDREN GO TO THE BATHROOM. Never, ever, ever, ever listen to them when they say they don't need to go, because trust me, five minutes into the next leg of your trip, they will need to! Truthfully, they always need to go.
  • If you have a laptop or tablet, bring it so you can research places to eat that aren't just McDonalds, that can be pretty much as cheap, but SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU. Use sites like Tripadvisor and Urbanspoon to make sure they are well-reviewed and within your budget. (This is easier done on something bigger than your phone).
  • If you don't have a GPS, you need to get one. (I got mine off of Kijiji for $10, so if you thought you couldn't afford one, guess again!) They help you gauge how long it's going to take to get to your destination so it makes it easier to make judgment calls about whether you should just stop and eat, or if it'll be worth it to press on, etc. 
So, I've just finished planning the trip tomorrow when we should reach my cousin's house. We're stopping for Japanese in Scranton, PA, and stopping for a tiny bit of shopping in Roseland, NJ. And we should still get there for before dinner. 

With kids, you can't pretend like you can travel like you did before you had them. But when you plan your trips to consider what their needs are (without going overboard so all you do is cater to them), everyone can have a good time... and even mom can relax a little too. 

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