Last week my little family traveled from Idaho to Oregon. We were in the car for over 12 hours. As I sit here at my In-Laws, I couldn't help but think about the things we did that seriously made the trip harder than it needed to be. First of all, you need to know a little bit about my family. My oldest is a 2-year-old boy and we got our puppy when he was only 3 months old. They grew up together and truly don't spend any time apart. My youngest daughter is 6 months old. At this age, they still sleep a lot, so I wasn't worried about her at all.
Let me just say this, my toddler is THE WORST in the car. He stopped sleeping in the car at like 4 months old and fights sleep in the car anytime we travel. So, I was super worried about him. The last time we went to Oregon to visit family, we tried traveling at night to hopefully make it easier for my son, but he only slept like 4 hours the whole trip. I swore we would never make the night trip again. Well, we found ourselves with a car that doesn't have AC, so the only option was to drive at night, again (giant eye roll here). It is super dangerous to drive in this summer heat without air conditioning by the way, so with our little kids, that wasn't an option. So, if your family is like ours and your kid does not sleep well in the car, DO NOT TRAVEL AT NIGHT. And of course, my second piece of advice is DO NOT TRAVEL IN A CAR WITHOUT HEAT OR AIR CONDITIONING. This was the most miserable part of the trip because we basically had to have the windows rolled down the whole night. It makes it hard to hear anyone and nothing is more miserable than not being able to control the air temperature on a long road trip.
The next advice I have for anyone, DO NOT DECIDE TO TRAVEL LAST MINUTE. Seriously, we keep trying to do this because it's fun to be spontaneous, but it does not work anymore. Kids this little just take so much work and you almost need to bring literally everything you own just to satisfy their needs for a long trip. Also, big dogs need to get their energy out too so if you plan last minute and end of having to bring them with you you’ll need to plan on taking plenty of stops that have grass to run around and poop on.
This leads me to my next piece of advice; DO NOT STOP MORE THAN YOU NEED TO. It takes a lot of convincing to get your toddler back in their car seat after you've already been driving for more than a few hours. So, make sure that when you pull over for gas that EVERYONE+DOG gets a bathroom break and gets to stretch their legs for a bit. We pulled over a little too often because of diaper changes and bathroom breaks. It was crazy. With kids, sometimes you can't control this. But if the kids are asleep, keep driving.
If you can afford not to, DO NOT DO THE WHOLE TRIP IN ONE DAY. If we could have, we would have split the trip in two days. If the kids could have gotten a good night rest, we wouldn't have had to fight them in their seats. I wasn't too fond of staying in my seat for more than 12 hours either, so I would prefer it that way anyway.
There were a few things that DID HELP the trip. The iPad. Did you know that Netflix has an option for you to download movies or episodes, so you can watch without WIFI? Yeah, this was a lifesaver. We downloaded some things for my son to watch in the car and strapped the iPad to the back of my chair.
There is more... get something to either haul or strap to your vehicle to hold all your stuff. We needed to get a trailer to hold all our stuff. We have NEVER traveled like that before. We’ve traveled to Oregon before, but we usually leave our dog with our friends. We brought her with us this time, so we needed more room for her. This seriously changed everything for us. Our car wasn't stuffed and the very back was totally empty for our dog and a little extra room for me to change the kids’ diapers. It. Was. Perfect. Traveling is so stressful for me and having an empty car just totally took that stress away. If we needed anything we just opened the trailer really quick and we were golden. Super easy. Depending on how much room you have in your vehicle and how far you are traveling, you might not need to do this. But this totally helped us. We wouldn't have been able to bring my toddlers bike without it. And if you plan on doing any camping, this sounds like a great way to do it!
If we didn't have a picky toddler when it comes to sleep, we would have set up our hammocks at one of the rest stops in Oregon and taken a nap with our kids. We bought these hammocks for this exact reason. They are big enough for my giant husband and one of the kids to join him. When my son grows up a bit I'm sure we will be able to do this.
So, there you have it! I hope you can learn from our miserable trip and have a smooth successful one for yourself. Next week we plan to go visit one of the waterfalls I wrote about last week. I'll let you know how beautiful it is!