“Call Me Crazy,” One Mom’s Tale of Road-Tripping with Toddlers
Traveling with both of my boys always scared me. In three years the furthest we have driven is to the Jersey shore. My youngest hates being confined; his car seat is his greatest nemeses. However, this year we decided to go for it and take a road trip with the boys to visit friends in Clarksville Tennessee, a 14-hour drive. Some may call me crazy for even thinking it, but our children are so close in age, that we want them to grow up being close. We had to attempt this trip. Since I can write this, its true, we survived! I thought that sharing my experience may help someone else who may be considering an adventure this summer with their little ones.
Traveling at night
For the trip down, we decided to leave at 8pm, right about the time when the boys would usually be heading to bed. They had their bath, got in their pajamas, and we strapped them in for the trip. We were able to make it to Maryland before our first hiccup, bathroom breaks. My oldest is 3 years old, newly potty-trained, but still learning the ropes. When he tells us he must use the potty we usually have around 5 minutes to get him to one. While driving with 30 miles between rest stops it wasn’t possible. With no safe place for us to pull over, he ended up having an accident. When we eventually made it to the rest stop, we cleaned him up and his seat up then got back on the road without any further issues. Just in case we ran into this issue again, I bought a few cups to use in case of an emergency – not the most glamorous thought, but it’s real like being a mom of boys.
The rest of the trip we were able to get in a good haul before they both woke up around 6am. By that time, we were a few hours from our designation. They started to fuss so we decided to stop at a state park to let them run around a little bit and we had breakfast.
By time we reached our designation the kids were well rested and ready to start their vacation. My husband and I, on the other hand, looked like the walking dead with about 4 hours of sleep between us.
Traveling during the day
On the way home we decided to leave at 10am and try out the day trip since both boys did so well at night. My husband and I hit the store and spent a good amount of money on items to keep them entertained. We bought everything from PJ Masks action figures, to coloring books, to blocks they could play with in their seats. We also had a tablet, which helped us a lot with my older son.
We decided to travel in 2 hour intervals and give the boys as many breaks as possible this time around. We stopped at truck stops and had picnics, we stopped at Burger Kings for the play areas, and we stopped at parks to let them run around. The first 8 hours of the ride home felt like another vacation, we were excited to stop at different locations and let the kids explore. The next 8 hours were not as exciting as complete exhaustion set in and took over the mood. The kids were doing great, but Mom and Dad were over it! Once the kids fell asleep for the night we thought about getting a hotel room several times, but the voice in your head keeps telling you home is just 4 hours away - you can do it.
Starbucks, my savior
If you have ever traveled through Virginia and Tennessee you know there really isn’t much available for long stretches of time. So when the baby wanted a bottle and there where no stores in sight to get him that bottle, we made an attempt with a Starbucks. We went through the drive through and asked if they had whole milk. She must of heard the baby crying and asked if it was for a bottle. When I responded with yes, she let me know that she would heat it for us at “kid temp”. I had no idea that Starbucks offered this option! For the rest of the trip, there and back, me and Starbucks were best friends. Highly recommend for any mom out there in a bind.
Would I do it again?
No way! Next time we are flying, and for someone with a great fear of flying that is saying a lot. With flights for the 4 of us ranging from 1k-2k, we thought this would save us some money. However, when you factor in gas, food, and toys, we spent close to that amount and subjected ourselves to sleep deprivation in the process. That’s no way to start a vacation.
Though I have to admit something I didn’t fully expect – the kids where angels the entire time! It must have been the excitement of seeing something new every time they looked up, but they were the best surprise of this trip. Having to take frequent stops and keeping them entertained for long periods of time, was draining on the adults doing the work. We are the ones still trying to recover a week later. But what made it all worth it, was seeing all of these boys together. Memories that will last a lifetime.