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Traveling with Littles: Road trip

20100818_2973Taking important calls on the (unplugged) hotel phone

We just returned from an eight-day road trip that took us through Massachusetts (of course), New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware. The trip was half for Mike (business in Atlantic City) and half for me (weekend wedding in Philadelphia). We spent the work portion in a hotel, and the wedding portion with Mike’s mom’s wonderfully accommodating cousin. Here are a few highs and lows from our road trip with a one-year-old, two-year-old, and four-year-old:

Things that worked well:

  • Packing with backpacks when taking luggage for five in a sedan. Mike had a suitcase for this trip (he had to pack fancy work clothes), but the rest of us packed our clothes in backpacks – much easier to fit in small spaces!
  • Taking a few small toys from home. My kids picked their owie dolls and bears, as well as three books each. Apparently they like handmade toys when they are away from home.
  • Stopping at children’s museums along the way. We stopped at The Children’s Museum in West Hartford, CT on the way out, and Kidcity in Middletown, CT on the way home. Mike also took the kids to Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum the day I spent in wedding rehearsals (I was matron of honor). All three museums were free thanks to a reciprocal relationship with our local children’s museum, which we have a membership to.
  • Alternating busy and down days. It rained one day in Atlantic City, and I think the kids benefitted from the resulting down time.
  • Staying with  fantastic relatives. The kids were thrilled to be in a house, and they LOVED (understatement) playing with the resident 19-year-old. We think she should move to our house!

Things I want to figure out:

  • How to keep Emma and Johnny from taking their tiredness out on each other at the end of a long drive.
  • What to do when there isn’t time to allow down time. The last three days of our trip were very intense – driving to meet up with family (who were in DC and flying home the next day), then a wedding rehearsal, and finally the actual wedding. Understandably, none of our children were very happy when we put an end to their puddle jumping at the wedding.
  • Helping kids survive the end of long drives. At the end of one day, we had Lily screaming “Mama, Dada, Baba!”; Johnny crying, “I want my moon!” (he couldn’t see it in the sky because of the direction we were driving and so was very sad), and Emma yelling, “Stop! Too loud!” for the final hour of Philly traffic. It would have made a good tragic opera finale, and that is part of why I’m not a huge fan of tragic operas.

And now I’m off to unpack, and eventually drop by to visit the lovely people who left comments here the past week and a bit!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

16 thoughts on “Traveling with Littles: Road trip”

  1. You are an amazingly resourceful and experienced traveler. Books on CD work for us wonderfully now, but I can see that it might be more difficult with three different ages. Hopefully those trips will be easier with time and you will even make it to CA :)
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..Geography Track – Egypt “Almost for Real” =-.

  2. @Jaimie – I can’t believe you drove to Michigan from Montreal on your own – you are one brave/tough woman! And sounds like your two are just like mine – the younger ones screaming and the older ones yelling for quiet!

    @Beth – Headphones – brilliant! Sounds like a wise investment!

  3. I do know what you mean about all the kids crying and carrying on at the end of a trip! Fun, isn’t it:-)?!

    You are so resourceful and I always enjoy reading about the ways you keep your kids entertained while your family travels.
    .-= Susana´s last blog ..Happy Birthday- Kenny =-.

  4. Sounds like you had a great trip (for the most part)! As for the noise – we kept noise-reduction headphones in the car for a while when Abby was younger and her crying bugged Conner too much. He thought the headphones were the coolest!
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..sunflowers =-.

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    Love that picture of Johnny all tucked up in the hotel bed. :)

    Sounds like you had an amazing trip, and I’m glad you got a little down time in the middle. It is hard to have intense days one after another and general grumpiness is bound to result – this happens with us even if we’re not going anywhere cool and exciting!
    .-= Elisa | blissfulE´s last blog ..Vi’s birthday breakfast =-.

  6. Sounds like a fun trip! I’m starring this because of the recommendations for museums, etc, since we live on the east coast now.

    I hear you on the screaming kids in the car! On the entire way to Michigan from Montreal, my two year old screamed hysterically, while my four year old yelled for her to be quiet. That was fuuuuuuuuuuuuuun. ;)
    .-= Jaimie´s last blog ..DIY Kids Keychain Toy- or my Life as a Scavenger =-.

  7. @Quadmama – driving overnight didn’t work this time because Mike had to be awake for work the next morning both directions – maybe next time?

    @Sadia – I was really happy with how the kids did, and I’m hoping to try out more road trips in the future!

    @Jen – we did drive through New Haven, and it looks like a lovely place to live!

  8. Sounds like quite a trip! Did you drive through New Haven? That’s where we lived before we moved to SA!

    When you figure out how to keep your kids from taking their tiredness out on each other, please share! It’s a constant battle for us, too! On our big trip, they lucked out with each getting their own ipod to listen to. This did help tremendously!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..My Birthday – =-.

  9. Is traveling overnight possible? We took a trip in July to see relatives and did the drive there overnight. Hubby and I were exhausted but the girls managed to get some sleep. The drive home was done during the day, which added an extra 2 hours to the trip because we then had more potty breaks and meal breaks. I wish I had a better answer!
    (Oh, I packed all the girls stuff in their school backpacks. It was great because there was no fighting over clothes!)
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Back to School =-.

  10. Traveling is hard to do with children. Recently we drove down to Disney Land with the kids and it is only a 6 hour drive. I had to put up with a tired whiny teenager, two preschoolers who wanted to stop to use the bathroom every 50 miles or so and a one year old who just would not stop screaming.

    On the return trip one of our tires blew which made it a lot longer.

    It sounds like your trip went smoother than mine. Have a great Tuesday!
    .-= Cascia@Healthy Moms´s last blog ..Hooray for Giveaways 8-23 – 8-30 =-.

    1. @Ticia – You’re probably right. They did much better this time round than in April…

      @Cascia – Emma needed to use the bathroom every time we got onto a long bridge or stuck in traffic! And I’m SO glad we didn’t have any car problems!

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