Monday, June 23, 2008

Traveling With Young Children? Bring. It. On.

I have all kinds of wonderful things to blog about. Pictures to show you, too. Camping pictures. From over a week ago. But for some reason, I'm just not up to a long-winded, up-to-date, look-at-my-kids! type post right now. And the pictures aren't uploading right, anyway. See? I tried. Maybe I'll try again later.

For now, I thought I'd let you, dear reader, know that Crazy Week Two is about to start, which will then lead into Crazy Week Three, and then Crazy Week Four will commence. There are reasons for this craziness, and since you're still reading, I'll tell you why.

Crazy Week Two: Clean the house, do the laundry, pack the house, pack the laundry, wave good-bye to awesome hubby as he goes with the Priests on their High Adventure trip (hiking and rafting in the Tetons), drive myself and kiddies to Logan to see Julie and Mother of the Wild Boys, and then drive to Blackfoot to the 'rents house.
Crazy Week Three: Drive to Alberta (without Brandon. Sniff*sniff*). Spend an amazing time with relatives in the Great White North, sing "O, Canada", hike throughout Waterton National Park, and then drive home.
Crazy Week Four: Do the laundry, clean the house, recover, recover, recover.

I'm excited for my crazy weeks. The prep part and the recover part are not very fun (and the "no Brandon" part is excruciating), but from Logan to "drive home" I'll be dancin' the night away. Or something similarly thrilling.

And now, for your entertainment, some thoughts about traveling with small children:

I have a hard time feeling sorry for people who take small children on long road trips. Don't get me wrong --it's not that I don't think driving long distances with small children is easy, I just have a hard time feeling sorry. Pitying, if you will. Acknowledging their pain.
I've often run into people who whine and complain (as most parents are wont to do when it comes to doing anything with small children) about traveling with small children and the complaints are always the same:
"It's so far!"
"What can we do to entertain them?"
"What will we eat?"
"It's hard to sit still!"
"How can they handle it?"
"How can I handle it?"
"Why are we doing this?!!?!"
I asked my sister (today, actually) about my sin of being annoyed with the unseasoned traveling parents, and she said I needed to be kinder and more understanding (which is something I really need to do on all levels, if we're being honest here!). She reminded me that as a child, I had driven in a car, usually more than once a year, for 8 hours straight. Both ways. I had no television, no 75 MPH speed limits, and no fast food (mom always packed a lunch). We stopped only for gas and bathroom breaks (usually at the same time. Why waste a stop? Go now!), and we always made good time. The idea was to get to the destination. 8-10 hours of driving? Bring it on!
I'm used to long road trips. Facing any kind of a road trip, with four children (usually a baby involved, often a nursing one), for any amount of time (2 hours to 15 hours) doesn't even phase me. I don't bat an eye. Why would I? My kids have a DVD player. They have books. Crayons. Snacks. Fast Food. They just have to deal.
So deal, we have. And we've benefited from the fruits thereof --trips from CA to ID, from UT to CA --and from UT to Canada. My kids are seriously the best car travelers I've ever seen. Stopping only for gas? Cool. Eating three meals a day in the car? Bring it! Getting up at 4AM to make it to Grandma's house by dinnertime? Fo' shizzle!

But I am still a bad person. I need to remember that for some people, just the thought of being stuck in a car for more than 2 hours sends shivers down their spines. And I'm not talking about the children, here --I have many adult friends and family that cannot stand the car. So, they fly, or they break their trips into small increments. I need to be more sensitive about this. I shouldn't roll my eyes every time I read about someone else thinking their 12-15 hour car trip with children is going to be Hell on Earth. I shouldn't smirk when people think I'm superhuman for driving "alone" with my children to Idaho (it's only 3 hours away, people). This is a serious weakness of mine. You know, judging people. I need to get over it. Dang. One more thing to add to the list. Yeah, that sounds about right.

So, what do you think of long car trips? Specifically with small children? Do you do it often? If so, are you judgemental like me? Wait. Don't admit that. Judgemental people are annoying, too!
Shoot. I guess I'm annoying, too? Figures.


Amanda D said...

I'm all about taking road trips with the kiddies. My kids are used to it so they are super. We made our last 12 hour trip with TWO stops. Awesome.

Good luck with your trip!

Kelly A. said...

My kids are amazing road trippers too. These days I much prefer to drive vs fly. When we do have a melt down it is in private and I'm in control of my hours.

I need to repent judging too, I have this same pet peeve you do.

Have a great time!

Amy said...

Does driving from Edmonton, Alberta to Jacksonville, Florida count as a long trip for a 4 year old and a 4 month old? :)

Cheryl said...

Amy wins. No contest, people!

How long did it take you? I had forgotten about that!

makakona said...

i LOVE road-tripping with my kids! i am probably judgemental because we don't have a dvd player or any of those fancy things and i think it just takes proper planning (and probably parenting!).

i pack the car with food. we have a bin of dry goods and a big cooler. the cooler has cheese sticks, those yoghurt sticks (we only buy them for road trips), fruit that's already washed and prepared (i.e. hulled strawberries and de-stemmed grapes), and a big bag of sandwiches. i make about a dozen plain sandwiches (either cheese and butter or turkey and cheese) and triangle 'em all up. they're wrapped as a whole sandwich, then put into a huge ziploc, which keeps them dry.

i do a big bin of books and a bin of toys that are easy for travelling, like magnadoodles or colorforms.

we tend to go in cycles on road trips... they sleep, wake up, have a snack, read books, play with toys, and then it's time for a break. we go at least four hours between stops. when we take a break, i try not to look at the clock at all. we find somewhere with bathrooms and a patch of grass. we run around till we get our fill of fresh air, then it's back into the car to repeat the cycle... sleep, wake up, have a snack. my kids aren't nappers, but they will nap in the car on road trips. i keep my ipod and some cd's in the car and motab is the go-to when i think it's time for them to get a bit sleepy.

i really LOVE road-tripping. we'll be doing it in september with a 5yo, 3yo, and 18mo. we probably won't go too far (12 hours, maybe?), but just being on the road is enough for me. the key to my sanity is to not worry about trying to push too hard on the travel time. one trip, i was trying to hurry and get home in one shot and finally decided to just rent a hotel room for the night. it ended up being one of my favorite memories with my kids.

makakona said...

oh, and i just read the part about idaho only being a three hour drive. CAKE! we used to go back and forth from los angeles to san diego in one day and it usually took about that long. i used to laugh when people would be awed by that because it as just normal for us. we'd leave whenever we wanted to during the day, then head back home after bedtime, so we were sure the kids would sleep the whole way.

Janelle said...

We are constantly on the road. We drive anywhere and everywhere day after day and that is what we call vacation. We're typically in a truck without DVD or books or even food, but we do have our trailer on back so there's always a bathroom behind us. Flying stresses me out too much too.

I've never judged, never thought to. There may be other things I judge but not travel stories.... Someone is always throwing up or urinating in cups, or hitting stray livestock or sliding into snowy ditches and all of these things are worthy of complaint.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I love traveling (former flight attendant) and I've always traveled with my boys. We've done flying and driving, both with and without hubby. Our boys are good travelers, and it helps that they can stand up to pee in an emergency. :)
I am not so much annoyed as amused by the whining of parents with young children about traveling. I just smile and nod (like all good flight attendants are taught to!)

m&m said...

My thought is if it really is that awful, just don't do it and find some other nice way to have a vacation. Not all kids or adults can handle that kind of trip, so why kill yourself?

I'm one of those who just didn't do it for a long time. Still don't, really. But that is partly because dh hates driving. So we vacation close, and miss out on some stuff.

p.s. Road trips were easier when I sas a kid because there was no such thing as car seats or seat belt laws. We would stuff a mattress in our back seat, and could lie down or move around.

Camellia said...

I hate long road trips - my bum gets sore and I eat way too much candy. My kids love it though because we get to eat at MacDonalds. (Also as a sidenote I have a hard time working out cruise control so it is always a lot of work for me.) Well that is my take but it is always nice to get to where you are going - I am glad you are of up to Canada - enjoy yourself (:

Jill said...

I don't mind road tripping with my kids and they are pretty good travelers. However, I have to say that I am dreading our move to Texas.
Not so much the long (2 day, 2100 mile) trip, but more because Clint will be driving the U-Haul and I will be driving our car. Ack! I think we'll try to split up, Emery will go with Clint and Chani will go with me, but I have got to get my hands on some books on CD between now and then. Usually we use the library, but seeing how we're moving, it won't really work.
I appreciate all the comments and suggestions, though; I will be utilizing many of them.

Richelle said...

We just did an 11ish hour trip down to Florida with our 2 year old. It wasn't too bad, and we don't have a DVD player. Just lots of snacks and toys and CDs and books. We had to stop every 1 1/2 to 2 hours because my Dr. told me I should (cause I'm pregnant) and we just kept going until we were too tired and found a hotel.
Three or four hour trips are cake, though. I have done the drive from UT to ID by myself with my baby and have people wonder how I do it. I leave at naptime and I have had him sleep the whole 3 hours. Not hard at all!

Amber said...

No advice on the long roadtrip. We're doing Yellowstone this summer and I anticipate meltdowns and tantums.

And I don't expect the children to do too well, either. :-)

Cristy said...

Yea, I grew up spending at least a week a year in the car on the road, 9 people, 10 hour days, no CD player, no DVD player, just me and my best friends. I loved it. I looked out the window.

Good luck over the next few weeks! Sounds crazy and fun.

Amy said...

I think the trip took us about 50 hours over 5 days each way. It was actually really fun. There were of course melt downs here and there, but that happens whether we're travelling or not. We had a DVD player, snacks, sang songs, played games, took frequent stops to eat, sightsee, and play & run around. It's definitely one of the most memorable trips we've ever taken. We would have travelled longer and further on the way back so we could see and do more, but we had to get back for Andrea's wedding in Cardston.

I would recommend road trips for families because you really get to know eachother and experience points of interest, scenery and quality moments you wouldn't normally in day to day life.

Adam and I also travelled across Canada, from Alberta to Quebec one summer. And on the way back we went from Quebec diagonally to Utah and then back to Alberta. That was prekids though, so I guess it doesn't count.

bythelbs said...

When did you post? I can't keep up with everything, especially you weekend posters!

My kids are used to being in the car as we take at least two long road trips every summer. Whenever they start to complain I just tell them how in my day we used to drive everywhere because there weren't even any airplanes of course, and we didn't have their fancy video games or shmancy DVD players or their flibbidy-floggin' mp3 players or even air conditioning. We had a squirt bottle and license plate bingo and we liked it! We loved it!

makakona said...

bythelbs apparently needs to discover google reader! :D

cheryl, thanks for this post. reading all of the replies has me totally amped up to take full advantage of my husband's time off. he has 3.5 days off at the end of the month and i think we'll even try to drive that!

Cheryl said...

Seriously, that would be my kind of trip.

Ooh, and m&m, you're right! Seatbelts were optional back in the day. Made it easier, for sure.

You always crack me up!

Camellia?! WOW! Just the fact that you have graced me with your presence has made my whole day. :)

My pleasure. I'm here for you, you know!

Jumbo Shrimp said...

My kid is a good traveler because we started going places when she was young. I have a hard time like you stepping back and realizing that sometimes others are not like me. My Bro and SIL didn't go to San Fran a couple months ago with their 5 month old because it was too far. I had a really hard time swallowing that. Then I remembered they live in Hawaii and never drive more than an hour. Their kid hates the car seat. I was still a little miffed but got over it. Glad your kids are good travelers too. It makes it so much better!