I love to travel. I find it extremely gratifying to my inner self to explore new places. I didn’t want to give up travelling after having kids. Of course, it’s harder than travelling solo, but it’s doable. If travelling with one kid is harder, we doubled our stakes of losing our sanity when we braved out on an adventurous road trip across three Canadian provinces; Sask –> Alberta —> British Columbia. Taming a 2-year-old, bound by the restraining straps of a car seat, is a cumbersome task by itself. The difficulty level of the said task decuples when you also have an 8-month-old who is constantly disturbed by her brother’s brouhaha. With a little planning and lots patience, we made it to our destination, all alive with some sanity left. If you are planning to travel with kids, then read on as I share our experiences, trials & errors.
- Drive while they sleep: We wanted to cover half the distance of our trip when both the kids were sleeping. Since synchronized naps rarely happen during the day time, we decided to drive during the night. Both my kids are good sleepers. Little Man is an excellent sleeper and he sleeps 8 hours stretches during the night. Little Miss is not too bad herself. Since we co-sleep, I wasn’t exactly sure of her nursing pattern in the night. I nursed her before we left our home and left Regina at 12 am.
- Don’t stop while they are asleep: This was our ‘modus operandi’ through out the trip. We wouldn’t dare stop when the kids are sleeping even if our lives depend on it. I mean it! I would pee in a bottle if I have to rather have to stop and end up waking up my kids. And NO, I’m not exaggerating. We loaded up on fuel, bought enough coffee before we hit the road.
- Food & Snacks: Kids get cranky when their stomach is growling with hunger. Little Miss still nurses at night and I was constantly gauging her if she is rooting to nurse. She tried waking up but the wobbliness from the running vehicle would rock her back to sleep. when reached Medicine Hat, I pulled her out to dream feed and gently glided her back into her bucket seat. We filled up on gas, another dose of coffee and hit the road again. Both the kids woke up again when we reached Canmore so we decided to take a breakfast break. Before we left I packed all types of snacks for Little Man. I packed him some of his favourites healthy snacks like apples, raisins, granola & yoghurt. I also got some “unhealthy” snacks (which he usually doesn’t get) as a bribe to keep him composed in the car seat when panic strikes in.
- NO eye contact: These 3 words will save your sanity while travelling with kids. Ignore your kids as much as possible and don’t interfere. Don’t even try small talks. Because the moment to try to engage with them, they get all excited and the next thing you know they want to get rid of the constraining car seat and sit on your lap. Also, avoid anything that would turn your kid’s attention towards you. Little Man gets all curious at the sight of cell phones. So me trying to browse through the trip pictures right below his nose wasn’t really a smart idea. If you really want to do something, be sure to hide it well.
- Bend some rules: We all have some strict parenting rules when it comes to raising our kids. But when you are travelling non-stop for 24 hours you need to be more lenient. Don’t operate by the same set of rules while travelling. Be more compassionate and it’s ok to let go of something that you hold tight. Give your kids a break and don’t expect them to be well-behaved. It is tiring and we all know that doesn’t bring out the best behaviour.
- Ignore the looks: We stopped at Golden, to grab some pizza for lunch. Little Man was grumpy, tired & hungry, all at the same time. We sensed the onset of a great melt down, so we tried to avert it by letting him play with my phone. After travelling for 15 hours continuously we had no energy left to deal with any toddler tantrums. Giving him my phone means everybody gets to eat their food peacefully. Of course, many stares and judgmental looks were thrown at me from parents (who came along with their best-behaved kids). I.G.N.O.R.E!
- Prepare for the last 2 hours: So you have survived the long road trip and you are just 2 hours shy of reaching your destination. Are you feeling relieved? Well, Don’t be! I have seen this over and over again. Kids can sense that your guards are down and will throw the biggest fit at your face. The last 2 hours is when the calamity strikes and you should have your best defence lined up to survive these final hours of Armageddon. Even a small nagging can seem mammoth because you’re physically worn out, you are already dreaming of reaching your room to finally put your feet up. At exactly 2 hours from reaching our condo in Vernon, Little Miss started her contagious shriek which invited her brother to join the party. We almost lost it. We had to stop, I nursed and rocked her to sleep, which brings us the last point.
- Be flexible with your plans: Kids become extremely unpredictable while travelling. This is even more pronounced with little kids under 2.There is no set nap or poop time. We had to make more stops than expected. We had to let go of many places that we wanted to visit because we didn’t want to over tire them. It’s good to have alternate plans when you’re travelling with wee one’s.
We reached our condo in Vernon, the next day at 10pm. It was defiantly a very challenging 22 hours on the road. Many have asked us how we did it, or is it even worth all the chaos? It definitely is! One of the main parenting principles we live by is not to let kids change our way of living, rather train them to adapt to our way of living. Travelling and exploring places brings happiness to us and we want to pass it on to our kids.
Do you travel regularly with your kids? Do you have any tips to share?