Oh man. Nothing strikes controversy in my house like discussions about going on a family road trip.
You see, I grew up on these. All of my family piled into a car for hours and hours (in an era long long ago before smart phones and tablets) with only each other and Klutz Kids Travel Book: A Backseat Survival Kit for entertainment. Obviously I survived to tell the tale, but I would be lying if I said that I want to re-live these memories. Flying with a fussy toddler or driving with all those potty breaks? I vote screaming baby on a plane every.single.time.
Unfortunately the hubs on the other hand, LOVES road trips. He loves the driving, the sight-seeing, the whole “open road, ‘Merica” thing… 😣 So when financially it makes more sense to drive than fly, I concede.
We took our tiny human on her first road trip when she was 2 months old. We hadn’t traveled anywhere for a few months and had been counting down the days to her first round of vaccines to take her on her very first vacation. We spent weeks planning the “right” kind of trip. You know, the kind that would allow us to do something “cool,” but kid-friendly and possibly allow us to show off our new little addition. Finally, we opted to fly to LA and drive along the pacific coast highway (as much as possible) to San Francisco. We thought since she slept most of her life anyway the trip would be easy with just the occasional stop to feed her. Stop in a cute beach town overnight to make it easy on us and the baby. Bada bing, Bada boom- easy peasy, Right? Wrong. So, so, wrong.
The kid screamed as we got on the PCH, drove through Hope Ranch, the 17 mile drive, and along the beautiful scenic route to San Francisco that we had so carefully thought about driving through. To be fair, it wasn’t all tears and screaming; there was a brief moment (possibly in Big Sur) when she was quiet, but turned out she was just nursing.
While a huge part of me just wanted to give up on road trips as a whole at this point, I knew that wasn’t very realistic (and we had already committed to one from Houston, TX to Telluride, CO with friends). I took a few valuable lessons from our semi-disastrous first attempt that proved to make our next road warrior venture 4 months later pretty successful:
- If possible, do most of your driving during the kiddo’s sleep time- during our next road trip we left at about 4am so we had already made good headway by the time the little one woke up (YEA, buddy!)
- Stop at places along the way that help your kids burn off energy- whether it’s a park, picnic area or chic-fil-a, it’s amazing what 15-20 minutes of running or crawling around will do to lift spirits and *hopefully* burn off that especially unique child-brand of energy
- Understand that, like it or not, it
mightwill take a little longer to get there than iMaps tells you- this is largely due to the stopping to tire the kids out and potentially longer food breaks, but worth it in my opinion.
Now, this probably won’t rescue you from all of the “are we there yet?” -type questions, but maybe it will help make things more tolerable (and if you are anything like me you’d consider that a win ☺️).