Along For the Ride

Summer is a great time for a family vacation! But the thought of dragging 4 car seats onto a plane (and 4 kids through airport security) and then reinstalling them into a rental car is enough to stop me in my tracks.

We have made several long car trips a year to visit family for the last two years, but this is our first time doing it with an infant. Our little guy is 10 weeks old.

Any tips for little, little ones in the car? Since he also has 3 squirmy big brothers, we place a high value on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible!

  • elena

    My only tip is to drive through the night. We regularly drive 1000 miles to visit my parents and we have done it with every age under nine including 3 month old twins. We have found that the ‘easiest’ way is to put the kids to bed in the van and drive while the moon shines. This also saves on bathroom and snack stops.

  • Karen

    Stop every 2-3 hours and don’t do more than 8 hours drive time a day, so this would take you about 10 hours. It is tempting to plow through the day, but you will regret it. We always go on long drive with a stash of surprise presents that I whip out when I see the strain on the kids, along with lots of other tricks. It has always been a lot easier than I thought driving with kids, as long as I stick to my lessons learned :-) Always stay in a hotel with a pool, it feels great to swim after a day of driving and helps the kids to sleep. My kids don’t sleep well in the car. One of my kids is highly functioning on the spectrum, vacation is enough change, sleeping in the car would bring on a whole other level of insane! You would however, get much further, much faster and save $ on a hotel, driving at night. Just be safe, pull over and nap if you have to. You could also combine the 2, leaving the all night drive for your last night. That is if you driving to relatives who can take care of the littles while you rest. Have a good trip, I am sure it won’t be as bad as you fear.

  • Karen

    Another idea that has helped me a lot is instead of buying a bunch of junk from the $ store for surprises, I let them get a snack out of a vending machine 1 to 2 xs a day. Their very own bag of food they got to pick themselves was much more exciting for them. The kids need something to look forward to, it makes the drive more interesting to them.

  • Sara

    I have never gone far with an infant but I find leaving early in the morning (3am) works well for us. I also lean over the car seat and nurse my baby when she needs it! It is pretty amusing and awkward but it always stops the baby from crying and gets them to sleep :) good luck!

  • Mama Turtle

    My experience has been that the new babies are the easiest (perhaps I have been blessed with good car seat sleepers though). A few things that seem to work for us: I would feed the baby around 4am, and then we’d all pile in the car in our pajamas. The children would all fall back to sleep in the car until around 8, and we’d give them breakfast in the car (mini boxes of cereal were a big hit). We’d finally stop around 9, which means nearly five hours of uninterrupted driving time. After that, we usually stop for gas, get changed, feed and change babies, let children run around, etc. every 2-3 three hours.

    I always have a terrible time nursing (I’ve seen seven lactation consultants and no one can tell me what the problem is!), so I end up doing quite a bit of pumping. If you are nursing, and you’re able/willing, I recommend pumping with the AC adapter in the car. My babies tended to sleep longer stretches in the car, and I would be terribly uncomfortable. Or they’d wake up hungry at the most inconvenient times, and I was able to bottle feed them my milk whenever they wanted it, without stopping the car. Safe travels!

    • http://happilyeverjohnson.blogspot.com Queen B

      Me too, me too! Pumping with the A/c adapter and then bottle feeding in the car is an awesome life saver. I have done that many times now through three babies, Tex. I also have found that the infant is the easiest one to manage during car rides. Have you found this to be true? The infant stage is the ONLY stage when my kids sleep in the car, and I often find that they will sleep a lot longer during long car rides, even if we are traveling during the day. Sometimes that may mean that they are up during the night when we arrive to our destination, which is a bummer, but other times sleep begets sleep. I will be praying for rest and rejuvenation once you reach your destinations. Blessings on your travels and love from all of us!

      • Mama Turtle

        I am really relieved to know that I’m not the mama who has resorted to this. And it has been an awesome life saver! I use a nursing cover so no one can see exactly what I’m doing, but it is always disconcerting to pump while traveling at 65 mph :) (Hubby is the one driving, in case that wasn’t clear before!!)

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

    Tex, blessings on all of your travels! We have done a lot of traveling with the kids, but I can’t say that we’ve found a perfect solution – it seems that so much depends on what is going on for each child at the moment! If a child is potty-training, sick, or just in a bad mood, everything can be thrown off. Everyone here had great suggestions for making the long car rides more bearable, though – you ladies are so wise!

  • texasmommy

    These are all wonderful suggestions! Thank you all so much for sharing your wisdom! We ended up leaving at 3am so everyone (except our ADHD son :-)) could go back to sleep for a few hours. I pumped in the car and fed the baby bottles every few hours…he spit up a lot, but definitely did not wail and scream the whole time (hardly at all!) I think it was definitely one of those situations where I imagined it would be much worse than it was.

    Mama Turtle, I have had a similar experience with nursing, being misdiagnosed with several things by different lactation consultants before finding out with my third that it was a circulation disorder that I have that was the source of my nursing woes. I pump almost exclusively, too.

    • Mama Turtle

      REALLY???!! If you wouldn’t mind sharing: how were you diagnosed correctly?? And how do you manage the exclusive pumping with other children running around?? I’m 37 weeks along right now, and I am honestly dreading having to feed this next baby (and I feel terrible about feeling that way!). My sweet husband is also very concerned (he’s worried that trying to pump so much and take care of our other children is going to be very overwhelming for me – and he’s probably right:). Nursing is always painful, despite plenty of midwives, nurses, and lactation consultants telling me that the latch is textbook (and treating me for thrush, mastitis, soreness, etc). I usually find that a medela shield and lots of pumping make the whole thing tolerable at least, but by 6-9 months we start supplementing with formula because I run into serious supply issues (diagnosed by pediatricians and lac consultants), become overwhelmed with pumping and caring for other children, etc.

      • Texas Mommy

        Mama Turtle, I am so sorry for your nursing challenges! I know how physically and emotionally draining it can be! I saw 6 lactation consultants after my first two sons were born. It was so painful to nurse that I was crying every time, my husband was begging me to stop and our son had lost so much weight that he was just above the failure to thrive threshold. I was diagnosed with all the things that you were and did all the treatments (nystatin, gentian violet, vinegar, etc..)When our pediatrician hired a new lactation consultant and she heard my history just before our third son was born, she brought me an article on Raynaud’s disease and nursing and I started sobbing in the office with relief to finally know what was wrong! I wrote a post awhile ago about it: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/buildingcathedrals/2008/09/the-milk-maid/

        Pumping is still quite painful, but it keeps my breasts dry, which makes it less likely that my body will start vascular constrictions to the point of “frost bite.”

        As far as pumping amidst the chaos…I know from experience that I only need to pump 5 times a day to make around 45 ounces. So I pump once when I feed the baby around 4am, and once before I go to bed around 10pm. That only leaves 3 times during the day. I can do once when the boys are in quiet time at 2pm, which only leave me needing to pump twice a day with the big boys around. I sometimes bring the little boys with me and read to them while I pump and leave our oldest son to play by himself for 10 minutes. If they are really crazy, I send them all to their rooms for 10 minutes (they try to avoid this, b/c it is more like a time out). I keep the baby in a swing facing me and just talk to him.

        But at the end of the day, I am a firm believer in doing what is best for your family. If it is too much to manage everything, then pray for peace and wisdom to make the right decision about what to do. We had to supplement with formula at different times for each child (5 months, 9 months, 11 months). Blessings as you struggle through this! Please feel free to email me off the blog about any of this!

  • JMB

    We do a lot of road trips with our children and have been doing them since they were infants. One thing that we don’t do, however, is leave in the middle of the night. A big concern for me is the safety of other drivers on the road. A friend of mine (mother of three, including a baby) was killed by a drunk driver in the middle of the night en route from her home in Indiana to Hilton Head to see her parents. After that tragedy, my husband and I decided that if we are heading out for a long trip, we would leave at 6 am, not 3 am or midnight or drive through the night. Most drunk driving accidents occur late at night.
    Keep at the roadtriping and it gets much easier as the kids get older. We are such minimalists now – no snacks in the car, no food, a few bottles of water, some iPods and books on tape. That’s about it. We pack the night before, hit the road by 7am, drive about 400/50 miles per day, and pull into the destination around 5 – just in time for a nice glass of wine!


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