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Would you take a 4-yr old on a cross-country...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
car trip? I have an almost 4 year old and a 14 month old. I am wanting to drive to Iowa from the West Coast with the kids (to see Grandparents). Am I crazy? My DD dosn't want to "leave her house and toys" and go on a trip.

I don't want to make her. we can go next year. is this a trauma (travel) for small children? Will we all go crazy in the car and turn around in the middle of Nebraska and head home? I won't fly.

post #2 of 11
I'd absolutely take my 3-1/2 year old!!! However, I would not even begin to attempt it with a 14 month old!
post #3 of 11
I always loved car trips (I am crazy, yes) but when we had our now 5-year-old, we had to cut down on them ALOT. She hated the car seat and cried each second in it.

So, what we did was break down our usual 12-hour car trip. Instead of driving 12 hours with two short break for meals, we made it a two day trip. We would check into a Comfort Inn (they are cheap and usually have brand new room cz I hate old smelly hotels). We would drvie at night when she was asleep. I learned to nurse her in the car in her car seat (THANK YOU LA LECHE LEAGUE!). 5 years later, she loves car trips like we do. She loves arriving at the hotel and Mommy throws her on the bed and she jumps around and we cuddle. Then we swim in the hotel pool and (lately) work out together.

Take familiar things from your house. For example, her bath toys go EVERYWHERE with us. So when she arrives at Grandma's or at a hotel, she still has Mouse Girl and Mouse Boy and their car, rubber duckies, North and South, her familiar soap, etc. There is a little bit of home in the car and when we get there. As soon as she was old enough, she had her own suitcase, and as much as I wanted to pack her clothes in there and not cram them in with mine, I let her pack whatever she wanted. The other day, I was in a hurry and I was saying How about this? How about that? Mommy, this is my suitcase, I decide what I am taking. Oops, you're right.

Of course, we still don't take as many as we would without her, because it is MUCH harder traveling with children. But as long as you accomodate their needs, stop when they need to stop, rest when they want to, etc., you should be OK. Allow yourself alot of time. Last month, I drove to a city that was only 3.5 hours away, and it took us 5 hours.

Good luck. I think Mothering magazine had an article about this not too long ago. Does anybody remember it?
post #4 of 11
We have driven to Kansas from Maine or Maryland several times with little kids.

This summer the boys (ages 2 and 3 1/2) and I are flying to Kansas and then my dad is driving us to Washington.

I am also planning on driving the boys across the country (to washington by way of kansas) by my self in a couple of years when they are 4 and 5. (It's really my enticement to not have another baby, I wouldn't be able to with another little one, but they are so tempting!)

But my boys are excited to go. We usually take one or two long trips to kansas, like 3-4 weeks in the summer and 3-4 weeks at christmas. I don't know if I would want to take someone who started out being upset about the trip.

Another thing that we do is plan one long stop somewhere. Usually at a zoo or swimming pool. Many cities now have indoor public pools, so even in the winter I would call or look up those towns that we would be at when we needed a break and find something to do. We also drive mostly at night.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your personal experiences! Now I am beginning to worry about the 14 months old...:
post #6 of 11
I would set fire to my own hair before I would go on a cross-country car trip with a 3 or 4 year old. I'd even have to torch my 'doo at the thoughts of travelling more than 3 hours with my five year old. I hate long car trips, and mix in kids, well, not my idea of a zippy good time.
post #7 of 11
I DID!! But only one kid. When Taylor was 8 mo we drove 2000 miles and back to visit my Mom. We took turns driving mostly at night sleeping and driving. He was ok with the trip though more than expected. We've done numerous 800 mile trips to visit my MIL since.

THEN this past January when Taylor was almost 3 just he and I drove from Seattle to San Deigo to Pheonix to Grand Junction and home making many stops in between. We took 5.5 weeks and stayed one, two, or max three nights ever in one place. It was good and bad. The first night was HORRIBLE and Taylor hated the hotel and cryed and cryed. The second day wasn't so good since we had food and pee and poo accidents galore. BUT that was the worst of it. In fact, two weeks ago Taylor BEGGED to go on a trip again?!?! We are going to try and plan another one for August.

What worked: I brought alot of board books, magic crayola markers [color only on special paper not clothes, car seat, etc], anything lap-size and electronic I could find [ABC Pooh, See N Say, Yatzee, etc], and... I broke down and spent $250 [ouch] on a DVD player for the car. I later found out you can rent VCRs for $20/wk. And if you ask around I bet you can borrow if someone has one too. We stopped every two hrs [unless he was asleep, then 3-4 hrs] at rest stops or McDs PlayPlaces. At Rest Stops we played chase in circles around the side walk until I felt he [or I] was ready to drop. At McDs I bought a small refillable coke to share and let him play for over an hour while I read magazines. I also brought our entire music collection including Rafi etc to sing along with.

What didn't work: Try as I might, I never stopped when I thought I would. And rarely made it anywhere "on time" either. Someone suggested I make hotel reservations and I was busy and forgot until it was too late and I am glad I did because I stopped 3 hrs short of the hotel when I got too tired. Also not knowing the roads it was a good thing for me to not drive tired at night alone etc. We also twice called friends along the way to ask if we could stay the night a day or two early or later. By the end of the trip this bothered me, but always bothered me much more than my friends. We also planned to camp our way North along the coast but got tired of travel and decided to go a different route. I think the camping would've been a blast tho since we could sleep in the back or pop the tent quickly. I am comfotable with this, but my cousin tried and found it a disaster since she wasnt familiar with the tent etc. Finally, there were days where we only drove 200 mi or so because we were stopping every 45-60 minutes. Taylor just did NOT want to be in the car. And it was more fun for us to have loose plans than battle a schedule.
post #8 of 11
Take one 5 year old, one 2 year old and a 32 week pregnant mama and throw them in a car for 15 hjours and what do you get - the very last car trip put family is ever taking. DD#1 is a traveling champ. She has been doing this since she was a few months old qand we go at least once every year. DD#2 sycks in the car. i love her but she is not fun to travel with. We pulled into a truck stop to rest a couple of hours. She cattered about grapes the entire time and then when we came out of our exhausted stuper (not really sleeping thanks to the chattering) she was buck naked. Oh, and she needed to be touched all the time. We don't have a mini van or suburban or anything so touching would have been complicated if I hadn't been huge with child butin my condition it was horrible. I ended up in the hospital the day after we got back with a kidney infection and preterm labor. Coinsedence? I think not. The onlyway it wil be done in the furture is if we break it into two or even three days and travel while they sleep.
post #9 of 11
I agree that the way to do it right is to break down the long trip into several small ones.

I took my 3-month-old foster baby on a trip to the beach last summer. I don't have any money to vacation, so when a client called and asked me to go to South to meet with the government on their behalf, I said Yes.

My foster baby hated the car seat as much as my biological daughter. Now I now it is NOT genetic, they were both attached babies and all of a suddent they are strapped in a strange contraption not feeling their mommy or daddy. The trip should have taken 12 hours but we took 48 hours getting there. Taking turns driving mostly at night. I wouldn't have done it without two adults though. It is too dangerous for one adult to stay awake in the day watching babies and then stay awake at night driving.

Like someone else said, take music and books and coloring books and markers, etc.

Again, we take FAR FEWER car trips now that we have children, but visiting grandma and a chance for a free vacation at the beach just can't be passed up.
post #10 of 11
I would, if your child generally likes the car, but not otherwise. One thing to keep in mind is that things you would normally think were a bit odd can be perfectly acceptable. My kids chew large wads of gum in the car, and it is okay with me that they look like cows as we roll down the highway. Once we're out in public, though, the gum goes in the trash. A friend drove from Florida to Toronto in a couple of days, and through the entire trip her daughter tore paper into tiny squares. The adults handed her large pieces of paper and she turned it into confetti. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if you find something that keeps a child happy, don't argue, just go with it.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Right now my 14 month old likes the car but my almost-4-year-old doesn't... that can change though....
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