Thursday, November 3, 2011

Please. Tell me what I need to know about roadtripping with a 14-month-old. And hold me. Because I'm scared.

We've done 4-hour(ish) stretches with Nora during our traveling to and from Pennsylvania, but even that was tough. Plus, it was three months ago, and she was younger and less mobile. We've had great success with her on flights, too, which have ranged from two to four-ish hours--but again, she was younger. And although she was confined to our laps, she finds that much more tolerable than being strapped down into a car seat.

So, as we prepare to take an 8-hour roadtrip with her, I am preparing myself for the worst.

First and foremost, I expect it to take longer than eight hours. In the past, Michael and I would power through, only stopping for gas and the occasional bathroom break (for us and/or Tessa). We'd eat on the road (packed lunches!), and keep our eyes on the prize and just GET THERE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.
Now, I'd like to take a similar approach because HELLO, I don't want to prolong the suffering for all of us, but I could also see how taking a longer break for lunch or something could possibly make things easier on Nora. Right? Still, I know she's going to be when she has to get back into that car seat, even if we just got done letting her explore and eat for an hour.

We're also debating on when to leave. Do we let her get a full night's rest, wake up at her normal time, and take off then? Or do we get up a few hours early, transfer her to the car in her pajamas, and hope that she'll continue sleeping?

I had half a mind to actually leave the night before--like, after we get home from work--and drive into the night while Nora sleeps peacefully in the back the whole time. But, leaving at 6:00 p.m. wouldn't put us at my dad's until around 2:00 a.m., and that's a looong freaking day. And because it'll be after daylight savings time ends, it will be dark THE ENTIRE TIME, which is not pleasant, especially this time of year when deer are prevalent on the roads. I feel like I'd be a nervous wreck the whole time.

So, please. Share your tips and tricks. Timing, breaks, distractions... everything. We'll take all the help we can get. :)

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Rebecca November 3, 2011 at 9:20 PM  

We've done several 8 hr trips with our daughter - the last one was when she just turned one.

The best is when we leave around 6 at night and drive as long as we can. Some times we make it all the way, then others we stop for the night and finish the last 2ish hrs the next morning.

The worst was when we left mid morning. She was fine for the first 4 hrs but it started going down hill after that. I ended up having to sit in the back with her for the last 3 hrs feeding her yogurt puffs to keep her happy. Not a fun trip.

nikinikinine November 3, 2011 at 9:30 PM  

Suck it up and drive at night. We normally wait until their bedtime (it's 8 p.m. and we get on the road at 7:30) and then drive the 6 hours to his parents house. The deal is that we nap with the babies in the morning.

And we sleep in shifts in the car. Usually Joe drives the first shift Joe and I sleep from 8-11 p.m. and then I take the second shift because I do better with night driving. He sleeps from 11-2 a.m. and then wakes up with the babies in the morning while I grab an extra hour of sleep.

We did the daytime thing once and it was a godforsaken nightmare. They slept the entire time which meant when it was time to go to bed AT NIGHT they weren't having any of it.

basebell6 November 3, 2011 at 9:34 PM  

the furthest we've gone is 5 hours and it was 3 hours of H*LL. think of the loudest hysterical screaming you can ever imagine. and it was a blizzard. we left at bedtime thinking he'd sleep and it backfired. if i had to do it again, i'd leave at bedtime again though. if he's awake in the car for more than 30 minutes, cue the hysterical screaming again.

you need a lot of good luck and a lot of prayers!! hope it goes well!

Anonymous,  November 3, 2011 at 9:47 PM  

I would just suck it up and leave around bed time. I hate driving in the dark too but I will do it in a heartbeat.
The last time we drove from NJ to Ohio it took us 12 long hours to get there it usually takes us 7hrs.

We left at 6am hoping that she would sleep till 9.30am as she usually does. Nope she was a nightmare didn't fall asleep until 2 freaking pm and had to stop every hour. By the way this is a child that ones the car is moving she will just pass out until we stop.

Lyn November 4, 2011 at 12:51 AM  

I don't have kids, so I can't give any personal experience, but all of my friends with babies and little ones swear that they only travel at night so that the kiddos will sleep through the trip. They switch off the driving/sleeping to make it easier. They say the next day they're tired, but it's better than a day of hell traveling with an unhappy child!

Erin N.,  November 4, 2011 at 3:54 AM  

I've done several six hour car trips and several ten hour car trips with my 2 yo, and leaving really early in the morning really does help. I'm talking like four in the morning. I'll usually drive while my husband sleeps for four hours, and then he'll take over. Also, as soon as she wakes up, I transfer to the back and just play silly games with my daughter like "itsy bitsy spider" and go over animal sounds/colors/etc. And yes, yogurt melts and puffs are always packed, even now that she's a toddler. Munchkin has some snack cups that are affordable that have the cover that prevents spills, and I usually have three or four ready to go with small finger foods. The baby food puree pouches are also nice since you can just feed them in the carseat easily.

Helen November 4, 2011 at 7:21 AM  

Apparently, I have the only child that leaving at bedtime was a complete disaster. We did a 6 hour trip, and he was fine for the first 4 hours or so. But after that, all he wanted was to sleep in a bed. It was awful. He was a little younger that Nora is now when we did this. He is a much better traveler now, but we haven't tried the driving at night thing since. We have had good success leaving in the morning, and mid morning, but those have all been for flights, we havent' taken a car ride longer than 3 hours with him since. Not on purpose, its just worked out that way.

Kate November 4, 2011 at 7:44 AM  

We live 4 hours away from my husband's parents so we've done the roadtrip thing a lot this past year. It used to be no big deal, but we spent 6 hours on the road with our 1 year old last week and OMG it was hell. She lasted 3 hours, then got hungry (which I was prepared for) and then just got bored. She criiiiiied, we pulled over on 95 so I could get in the back seat to talk to her, and she was still pissed about being strapped in.

Our plan for future trips is to just leave after work and hope that she sleeps through the whole thing. We like to stop for Starbucks at the DE rest stop, so that breaks up the trip for us (and keeps us caffienated through the night). It is a long day, but I imagine it's better than my poor girl screaming of bored for hours.

mashley November 4, 2011 at 8:32 AM  

We used to road trip a lot. Now we live closer to family. We would leave a few hours before the sun rose and both boys would normally fall back asleep. Lots of snacks. We would go buy special snacks for the car. I used. I gave my 1yo stickers (which were everywhere but he had a great time with them. Books. And you NEED a portable dvd player. My boys done watch a lot of tv but we break that rule when traveling. We got ours when our older son was 2 and we were like WOAH where was that thing the last 2 years. Its a lifesaver!

Megan November 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM  

I don't know but I feel for you. We last minute made a 7-8 hour trek to Virginia when she was 8 months old and she basically slept the entire time. The thought of making that trip now makes me break out in sweat. Then again Jane is no fun on planes either - so at least you have that going for you with Nora! In all seriousness, I'd either hide toys she loves like a week before and bring them so they are 'new' and or get some new things to give her on the ride. Is she into shows at all? For our next trip since Jane is now into Mickey and Elmo I am going to download some stuff to my tablet.

Natalie November 4, 2011 at 9:49 AM  

Leave at bedtime. It will tough on the adults, but you can just keep driving.

Also be prepared to sit in the back.

Heather November 4, 2011 at 1:22 PM  

We are now seriously considering leaving at night, so thanks to all who have chimed in. It will be possible for the way down, but on the way back up, we'll have to try something else--probably leaving super early and seeing how that goes. We figure we'll maybe try two different methods and see how they go for Nora.

But side note: I have to ask--what are yogurt melts? I had never heard of them, so I googled, and I get that they're yogurt and fruit, but are they: crunchy? chewy? fruit-snack like? I'm confused. Nora only has four teeth (two top, two bottom), so I still get a little nervous with some of this stuff.

Kristin {Sea Cow Circus} November 4, 2011 at 2:49 PM  

The yogurt melts are freeze-dried, and they dissolve pretty fast (hence the "melt" part) - I think we gave them to DD before she had teeth, even. I wouldn't describe them as crunchy or chewy - they're just really soft, fluff-in-a-solid-form things. They're kind of like puffs in that you don't really need teeth for them. Silly side note: My 34-year-old sister tried them and loved them ... until she found out they were for babies/toddlers :)

Erin November 4, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

Yogurt melts melt in your mouth...dehydrated yogurt perhaps. All kids seem to love them but crazy expensive.

We've had luck with leaving very early in the morning. I am not good at driving through the night especially when I have to be up in the morning to care for a toddler.

Just try to enjoy the ride. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to stop at where she can run midday. I also put videos on my phone, ipod, or ipad and hand it over. So much easier for traveling (particularly air travel) than a DVD player.

Good luck!

Erin Maree November 5, 2011 at 1:59 AM  

My parents used to drive 2 hours every two weeks to take me to a speech therapist from the time I was 2. This doesn't seem like alot but to them it was! Mum always used to pack board books and my favourite toys to keep my quiet (I had a teddy that I loved and a security blanket which helped keep my quiet). She also used to give me juice (in a pop top) and sandwhiches cut into small shapes. this website has heaps of tips on traveling with toddlers :)

Pie November 7, 2011 at 10:35 AM  

We always start right after my son's dinner. With a few favorite books in hand, he can flip through, and drift to sleep all by himself, and the best part is that next day is not affected much, cause he is pretty much on schedule. Of course, we are a bit tired. We have also done driving right after his lunch and ready for nap, but the good times only lasts about 3 hours...

Yogurt melts are awesome! My son loves the strawberry and mix berry types. He doesn't care much for the Banana type, cause it is kind of plain.

Good luck for a safe trip!

Anonymous,  November 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM  

If you can do it, driving at night is great, especially if you are going to visit family and have someone who will look after Nora while you rest in the morning. Driving all night and then staying up with a well-rested toddler is tough! Yogurt melts are a wonderful treat--- I keep some in the diaper bag for "emergency" treats. We were in minor car accident and ended up in the ER for several hours (precautionary) and thank god I had the yogurt melts to distract my son!

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