We survived.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We're home from our road trip to see my dad and his side of the family.

It was a total of 8.5 hours on the way down. And 9.5 hours on the way back up. With a 14-month-old and a miniature dachshund.

We survived. :) Want to know how?

After seeing so many of you recommend leaving at night, we bit the bullet and did it. We loaded most of our things in the car on Wednesday night, and drove together to daycare, then work on Thursday morning. I was able to get out of work a couple of hours early, and went home to pack the car, pick up dinner (subs to go!) and pick up Nora from daycare. Nora, Tessa, and I arrived at Michael's office right at 5:00 to get him, and from there, we hit the road.

I fed Nora her dinner in the backseat while Michael took the first (short) shift. At the last minute, I grabbed one of our cutting boards to prop across Nora's car seat for her to eat off of, like a tray--it worked perfectly. She had no problems feeding herself on the go (we kept it simple with turkey, cheese, peas, carrots, and pineapple) and that occupied her for a good 20-30 minutes of the ride. Once she finished, I cleaned her up, gave her some puffs in a snack cup + a sippy cup of water, turned on Toy Story 3, and climbed up front to eat my sub. Once I was done eating, we pulled off to a rest stop and quickly swapped spots so Michael could eat, too.

Backing up for a second... Toy Story 3. I'll tell you what: Our iPad? If that thing seemed to be an indulgent purchase before, it proved to be a downright NECESSITY on this trip. As far as we're concerned, that thing is worth its weight in gold. Nora got a couple of Disney movies for Christmas last year, and Toy Story 3 came with a digital copy, which I was able to easily transfer to the iPad. I downloaded a few episodes of a cute train show (she's into "choo choos" right now), and then we ended up buying another Disney movie in Virginia--Rio--which also came with a digital copy that I transferred to the iPad for the trip home.

Nora sat happily in the backseat with her snacks and her movie and didn't make a sound (except for the occasional laugh at the screen) for an hour and a half. We really don't let her watch much TV in our everyday lives, so I actually had no idea that her attention span was that good. Who knew? Oh, and we bought a really cool (and totally worth it) iPad accessory, too: a headrest mount. This thing was awesome. The iPad was out of Nora's reach, so she couldn't touch it, accidentally turning off the movie. And it was propped up in front of her so she could easily see and hear it. I highly recommend.

At about 8:00, we were already three hours into our trip and decided to stop off at a gas station somewhere in Pennsylvania. Nora's movie was over, and she was already about an hour past her normal bedtime. We went to the bathroom, topped off our gas tank (we still had about 1/2 tank, but filled up while we had the chance), changed Nora's diaper, and got her into her pajamas. As we got back on the road, we gave her a sippy cup of milk, a blanket, and her lovey, and she "chatted" happily in the dark backseat for a bit before she drifted off around 8:30.

She slept the rest of the way, folks. It was phenomenal.

And, for the record, we never stopped again. We were too afraid of waking the sleeping baby! Michael drove the last 5 to 5.5 hours straight through without stopping. I'm not a good car sleeper, so I was awake, too--except for a 15-minute stretch when I happened to doze off before waking up with a huge crick in my neck.

We pulled into my dad's driveway at 1:30 a.m. and went to bed. Nora woke up as we transferred her out of the car, but she did pretty well going back down to sleep. Tessa, on the other hand, was wired, which was a pain in the ass and didn't make for a great night's sleep. Nora woke up around 7:00 (maybe even earlier?), so we definitely weren't well rested.

Still, we would totally do it again. Having Nora sleeping peacefully in the backseat through the majority of the ride was fantastic.

Yesterday, when we drove home, we tried a different method: We left in the morning. We didn't get on the road until almost 8:30 a.m., and long story short--it was fine, but almost seemed even more tiring than driving at night.

The total trip home took an hour longer than the trip down--we stopped for almost an hour about halfway through the ride to have lunch and give Nora some time out of her carseat. Then, we hit rush-hour traffic when we got close to home (oops), so that set us back a bit, too.
Nora only slept for an hour and 15 minutes of the entire 9.5 hour trip. Yikes. We let her watch Rio in the beginning of the trip, then once it was over, we let her sit in the quiet back there and that's when she dozed off. Once she woke up, she babbled happily for a while, played peek-a-boo with Michael, and then we stopped for lunch. We let her watch Toy Story 3, then three episodes of Chuggington. :)
All in all, we probably stopped five times on the trip back up--diaper changes, gas, etc.--and that ate into our time as well. Nora had a few periods of crankiness, but again, was pretty good.

In the end, I slightly preferred the trip down over the trip back up. But leaving at night on our way down and leaving in the morning on our way home maximized our time with my dad and my family, so we would do it exactly the same way next time. And there will be a next time!

Thanks to all who offered tips and tricks for roadtripping with a baby. We were pretty lucky, but I can honestly say that MOVIES were, by far, the most helpful tool. Without the iPad and movies, I'm not sure what we would've done. Thank goodness for modern technology!

I'll share some pics from our trip over the next few days, so... more to come soon!


Emily November 16, 2011 at 8:01 AM  

I had no idea you could transfer regular movies (eg not off itunes) to the ipad. and that headrest mount...mmmm.... I have visions of future success!

Heather November 16, 2011 at 8:38 AM  

Emily--The movies need to have a digital copy. It's an extra disc. Like, the Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy sets I linked to in the post will actually say that a "digital copy" is included on the cover of it. From there, you put the digital copy disc in your computer, enter a validation code (included in your movie case) and it'll transfer into iTunes. Then you're able to transfer from iTunes to the iPad, if that makes sense. :) I wish you could just transfer any old movie, but as far as I know, that's not the case!

Erin November 16, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Try Handbrake. It coverts video files so you're able to get them into itunes. Love the ipod for videos...lock it so they aren't able to fiddle with it, and put some headphones on them. :-)

Sara Romano November 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM  

I have been wanting to get an ipad for the longest time. Maybe once my husband and I have a child I will be able to justify the purchase to him. :)

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