Road-tripping with multiples

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Categories Toddlers

We’re gearing up for a major two-day, 600-mile road trip and our backseat will be full of two 2.5 year olds and not much else.

Even our car is not ready for this kind of a trip.

And, for two people who have had trouble going a half-hour to the outlets to shop, a road trip that will span at least six states is a bit of an undertaking.

But, the time is now, and we’re ready. In fact, other than knowing I will not get my usual weekend kid-free breaks, I’m excited for this trip.

What’s that saying? Plan for the worst; hope for the best. That’s my philosophy.

I’ve been reading and researching and thinking about everything. Overthinking, as the husband might argue.

“Did you call and make reservations for Olive Garden?” he asked last night.

“You don’t need reservations for Olive Garden,” I said, not getting his joke.

We’ll do half hour gift bags filled with something new and special, and some other prized possession that should bring a smile or two. (Same for the ride back.)

We’ll have various, very special snacks to offer at certain intervals — things they don’t normally get like a cool mix of cereals, toddler trail mix and fruit roll-ups.

We’ll stop every two to three hours, depending on the mood levels.

We’ll pack lunch, and probably serve it in the car and let them run at rest stops and other open spaces to let them blow off some pent up energy.

We’ll stay over night at a place with a pool so we can wear them out in the water and, hopefully, watch them crash quickly in the hotel.

We’ll have games planned, activities ready and toys and books within reach for those cranky moments, and just to help them let off steam vocally, physically, artistically and by laughing.

And, we’ll have a portable DVD player for the desperate — and much-needed quiet — times as well.

Whatever happens, hopefully it’s not too brutal. After all, it’s supposed to be a vacation away from home. Then again, isn’t there a saying about there is no such thing as a vacation with kids — just trips.

Still, it will be new scenery, a change in the mundane routines — especially bedtime routines — and a time to let go of the stress of only healthy meals and snacks and strict nap times.

In other words, a week to say yes, yes, yes, instead of no, no, no.

Any road trip tips you want to pass along?

Next week, I’ll provide our sample checklist for preparing and packing for a long road trip with twin toddlers along with the activities and toys that worked best for the trip.

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6 thoughts on “Road-tripping with multiples”

  1. Ooh, good luck! I can’t wait to hear about it. I’m actually taking my kids on a 6-hour drive next week, and am a little nervous. As mine are too young for a lot of things (even the DVD player, as they’re still rear-facing!), the plan is just to leave at bedtime and hope they sleep the whole time… fingers crossed.

  2. Good luck! I’m so impressed with all these ambitious trips. I’m too overwhelmed (tired? lazy? anxious?) to have done more than an hour flight to my parents’ house with the kids. I’d be a little concerned that my marriage wouldn’t survive two days in the car with my kids in the backseat, but perhaps I’m wrong…..

  3. We’ve been making a 500+ mile drive 3-4 times a year since before the girls were born. They are experienced travelers who will be 3 in October.

    Here’s our routine for the age 2-3 crowed. We always make the trip in one day, leaving at 4am. With luck, the girls go back to sleep until we stop for breakfast. Even when the don’t go back to sleep, they tend to sit quietly and rest until 6:30 or so. Then we give them a snack of cheerios to hold them until we stop for breakfast about 8am. After breakfast and a chance to stretch our legs, we hit the road again. We give the girls some toys we reserve just for road trips and try to keep the occupied for as long as we can. Snacks help with this!! When they can’t be kept entertained for another minute, we turn on the DVD player until we stop for lunch and more stretching/running around. If we are lucky, the girls were nap for a couple of hours after lunch. If we are lucky, we arrive before they wake up, if not, then another snack, a few toys, the DVD player if we are desperate. We always arrive in time for dinner on the same day.

    Some things we’ve learned that work for us:
    –We plan the trip to arrive before dinner time. This gives the girls time to burn excess energy and settle in at the new place before bedtime.
    –We leave at 4am, and just put the girls in the car in their pajamas. We dress them for the day at our breakfast stop.
    –The girls love eating in restaurants. We choose truck stops with buffets for for breakfast whenever possible. No waiting for food and So far, they’ve always let the girls eat for free. Truck stops often have green spaces to allow a little bit of exercise and the girls find the trucks fascinating.
    –We’ll eat at fast food places if we can’t find a buffet. The girls really need the change of scenery, and do better sitting at a table for a meal than eating in the car. We’ll bring fruit and cheese to suppliment the less than healthy chicken nuggets and fries.
    –Sometimes we hit a fast food place and then stop again at a rest stop a few exits down the road for a little more exercise.
    –If the girls are sleeping, we are driving. NO BATHROOM breaks until they are awake. Any stopping is sure to wake them and any stops come with cries to get out and walk. Sometimes putting miles behind us is the most important thing. Limit coffee if necessary during times the kids might be sleeping.
    –while letting some things slide, like fast food, etc, is helpful, maintaining the basics of their routine keeps the girls happier while we are traveling.

    Last summer we made a 750 mile drive which we split into 2 days. We followed the same routine, but arrived much earlier in the day (lunch time). We sought out a nice playground and tried to wear the girls out so they slept better at the hotel. We also went to bed at their bedtime, so getting up at 4am and hitting the road the next day was no problem.

  4. My best piece of advice: headphones for the DVD player! We bought the over the ear kind and talked about how cool they were and tried them out at home. We had to use some velcro to install a small piece of foam so they would fit without falling off. Then they watch a movie. We don’t have to listen to the movie and we can actually have adult time. Ahhh, peace and quiet. Good luck!

  5. We’ve got eight (hence the Octamom handle) and the last two are twins–and gotta say, even with all the experience of 6 singletons, the twins have kicked our collective behinds! :o)
    We travel quite frequently to see extended family and ditto to many of your suggestions; plenty of snacks, plenty of DVDs, plenty of diversions…

    I posted my Octamom Rules of the Road
    http://www.octamom.com/2008/06/octamoms-rules-of-road.html
    which includes a special warning about the atomic makeup of Goldfish crackers and what they can do to the interior of your car on a long roadtrip!

    Blessings!

  6. We just returned from a cross-country road trip with our 3.5-year old triplets and baby, who turned one on the fourth of July. We made the decision to take the trip on a Thursday and left on a Saturday >> two days later. We drove from California to Canada to Massachusetts to South Carolina to Arizona to visit family, before driving home to California again. All told, we were gone three weeks and put almost 7,000-miles on our KICK ASS minivan.

    My advice?

    Get a portable DVD player. Bring lots of snacks. Stop every two hours, unless the children are sleeping and then >> DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE. If they are potty trained, make sure you bring a portable potty with you and do not be afraid to use it anywhere, anytime.

    If you stop during and stay in hotels, find a place that has a swimming pool. The kids will LOVE IT. You will LOVE IT. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of a long driving day. If you stay in a hotel complex that has suites, take it. We didn’t figure this out until we were on our way home again, and I wish that we’d thought about getting the bigger rooms, sooner. You will need the extra space. Or if you don’t “need it” you’ll really enjoy having it.

    Safe travels!!

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