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12 hour trip with toddler?

926 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  april77
Would you do a 12 hour car trip with a 16 month old?

My in-laws are renting a beach-front house in Florida next week and they invited us to come along. We would be driving from KY and my dh can't go because of work. They are staying on St. George Island, which is supposed to be a beautiful, clean, quiet area in a rental house where we would have our own bedroom and a washer/drier for our dipes. Plus mil is a great cook, so I wouldn't have to worry about that. I'm sort of desperate for a vacation, my mom passed away suddenly last month and it's been crazy since then. But I'm terrified of driving with dd. She's not a big fan of the carseat and the 3.5 hour drive to our hometown can be awful. Plus my in-laws are not the most baby-friendly people. I think they just honestly don't remember what it's like with a baby and they definitely were not AP parents anyway. They would be willing to drive half way on Saturday, stay overnight somewhere and drive the rest on Sunday. And the same coming home. But I don't think they realize how much dd can fuss/cry in the carseat and I know FIL will not be willing to stop all that often. If I could drive myself, I could stop as much as needed, but we only have one car and dh has to drive for work a couple of days a week. Plus I think that would offend my in-laws. And we can't afford to fly, I've been looking for tickets.

I guess I'm answering my own question, that this wouldn't work. Dh and I could never afford this kind of vacation and deep down I really want to go. But not if dd will be miserable for 4 days out of 9 (when we are in the car). We've talked about dh driving us down - doing a drive all night thing - but dd is not the greatest car seat sleeper. Or maybe buying a portable DVD, but she doesn't watch much tv and how long will that really entertain her?

Sorry to ramble - any advie out there?
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it really depends on your baby. if she hates the carseat, it's not a good sign. we're taking a 12 or so hour trip to NC this august with DD (similar rental situation with my parents). dd is VERY used to the carseat- she commutes 2-3 days a week 50 miles each way with dh to work (creative daycare
) and we just drove to MA from NY this weekend for one night.

there are a few ways to handle it. do you have to drive down with IL's? 2 hours or so at a stretch is really all a toddler should be able to handle without a break. for NC we are planning on leaving at an ungodly hour (like 4 am) to maximize sleeping for her without driving all night for us. we borrowed a portable dvd player & brought some sure-fire favorites (signing time, sesame street). we stopped after 2.5 hours & let her run around, eat, change, etc. she only napped 1/2 hour or so- she's not a big car sleeper! we had a bag full of activities that she loves (favorite dolls, books, toys, including really noisy obnoxious ones - cringe!). & rotated them when she lost attention. we used 1 dvd there & 2 back but we took 6 hrs to come back with extra stops (toys r us was a great place to run around!).

it can be really tough & not all kids are good in the car. really weigh the pros & cons specific to you & dd! I'm so sorry for your loss & absolutely sympathize with the need to get away! I hope you can find a workable solution!
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We also have a 12 hour trip coming up so I feel your pain, my friend. I have a couple of thoughts.

Timing is everything. We are thinking about leaving around 5am by swooping him out of his crib and into a running car. We have had to be at the airport before by 6am and this has worked with mixed results. He wasn't cranky, just confused. I figured we could drive a few hours, stop for breakfast and playtime, drive a little more, stop for lunch and playtime, then hope for a car nap.

The video player truly helps us for road trips, but we only use it as a last ditch effort, because if Ds gets sick of that, we're out of luck. Lots of snacks, maybe some of those markers that only show up on the special paper Crayola makes, and car fun. I point out every flippin' cow we pass (we're in the great state of Texas).

I think if you start your day early and end your day early, you stand a chance of this working!

Good luck!
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My dd and I have been going on "road trips" to visit relatives. She will do 8 hours well. We make any trip over 500 miles in 2 days. Lots of stops to walk or play.

Mom to Lyndsey
In your situation, I'd probably do the night drive with your dh. That way you can stop when you need to and even if the trip is really rough, it's just one long day of driving and you're there as opposed to 2 days in the car with the in-laws. We did a 5 day cross-country drive with a 20 month old last summer and my dd ended up being so easy so you never know. We didn't have a dvd player but she did have lots of lift-the-flap books and electronic toys.
ug... not a fun ride. Can you take a train??

If you have to go by car, I recommend driving through the night. Leave in the evening while she's still awake, rent a dvd player for the first two hours or so, anticipate stopping with her at least once and hope she'll go to sleep around her normal time. And remember that one of you has to be fresh enough to play with her when you roll in and she wakes up! If it were us, I'd take the first driving shift, from 7 until we make our first stop, and let my husband rest. My daughter would probably need to stretch her legs around 9:30, then drop off when we put her back in around 10-10:30. I'd rest and probably get some sleep from 10-6 or so, then switch off driving for the last two hours give or take.

We've taken my daughter up to upstate NY to visit my ILs. It's normally a 5 hour drive for us. She's great in the car seat, but that's *way* too long for her. Her normal limit is about 2-2.5 hours for the first leg, and then 1-1.5 hours for subsequent legs of the trip, with good length sessions in between for running amok. Thus, our 5 hour trip becomes a minimum of nine hours. Her sleep schedule is so disrupted by it that it makes any visit of less than four days completely miserable and disrupts our routine when we get back home. Or else we leave at 10 pm, but then our own sleep schedules are thrown to the wind and we're not the happiest people for half the visit. So, this Thanksgiving, the ILs are paying for me and her (and baby numero dos) to take a commuter flight most of the trip. My husband will drop us off at the local airport, drive up with all our stuff, and meet us at the airport there (actually easier than dragging all our junk through the airport and dealing with renting a car, not to mention the fact that he hates to fly.) So, we'll have a one hour car trip to our airport, one hour on the plane, and one hour in the car from the arriving airport to their house - and lots of time between each leg of the trip for Talia to run free and play. I am far more comfortable with this arrangement than with driving. And the price for the seats is about $150 each round trip - very affordable (especially since they're paying
, but even if we paid ourselves, it's something we could squeak into the budget.)
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Another question in the same vein...

We are leaving in a couple of days for a 5+ hour trip with my IL's. My Dd is 1, usually does well in the car but can get frustrated. We are taking books, some toys, crayons and a "lap board", and a magna doodle (this is new, so hopefully it will entertain her for awhile; she like the one at the Dr.'s office). We are also borrowing (in case all else fails) a DVD player and maybe some videos from my FIL's colleague (who is a father of 7, they homeschool, I don't think the kids watch much TV other than the 20+ hr, trips they take - his wife will take the kids *by herself*, so this is why they do DVD). Okay I'm rambling, but my point is that I think if they send videos they will be OK content wise. We have 2 Baby Einstein DVD's, but that's all. Anyone have any suggestions for videos to watch in the car?
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your little one may suprise you. we took a 12 hr trip when dd was about 19 months and she did sooooo great. we were armed with the biggest bag of books,toys, snacks, crayons, etc. we thought about the portable dvd player too! ( couldn't afford it, but it's a great idea...) we drove at night and told our friend that if he was driving with us he had to be willing to stop for ava. poor guy, i don't think he knew what he was getting into. but it really went well. both ways, we had to stop to let her out of the seat to run and play for a other words, a 12-hr trip can take a lot longer than 12 hrs.

since then we have had great traveling experiences with our dd. we think that trip broke it in for her.

good luck whatever you decide!
Dd did amazingly well on our trip. She slept for a good portion on the way there, and we had good succes with books and crayons and the portable DVD player as a last resort. But the thing that was the best overall was a little Magna-Doodle. (New for the trip) It was easy for her to make marks on, and she also had fun putting the magnet tipped "pen" in and out of it's hole. It turned out to be entertaining for the whole family - we would have someone draw some random lines or shapes and then have someone else make a picture out of it.
Sounds like lots of fun. I'll have to remember the magna doodle on our next trip.
We've done a 14 hour car trip with a 10 month old and a 6 hour car trip with a 16 month old.

We managed to not *need* the dvd player for the 6 hour trip, but we stopped often. The 14 hour trip, which we'll repeat this Thanksgiving, will *require* the dvd player just as it did when she was 10 months old. For us, the Wiggles, Bear in the Big Blue House, and musical video shows (kids singing) help. Books are great to pass back, but I get tired of that since she's done with a book every minute or two. Lots and lots of different snacks and singing.

I personally recommend just driving the straight 12 hours. That is what we do and it works best. We schedule our drive to always arrive right before bath/bedtime with enough time to unpack so that her nighttime routine is consistent and we can start the next day well rested. Finger puppets worked well with Anna too.. she likes Animals A LOT though. We did a lot of animal sounds in the car on this last trip. She loves to guess the sound or repeat it. The dvd player saves my sanity on long trips. She really zones to it in the car assuming there's a video in it that she likes.
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Well, we decided to go to Florida and it went so much better than we thought it would. Dh realized his parents and a baby in the car would not work, so he drove us down and came back to get us. How great is he!!

We drove down overnight, leaving about 7:30 pm. She woke up several times, (she's a tummy sleeper and kept trying to turn over I think) but always went back to sleep in a few minutes. We did take her into the truck stop/gas station at 1 am, because the whole getting gas process really woke her up. She slept really well from about 2 to 6:30 am. Then she woke up and we were at the beach. Pretty neat I think. We drove during the day coming home and the 12 hour drive only took us 14 hours, which we thought was pretty good. Dh and I took turns driving and sitting with her in the back. We read alot and cycled through toys. She loved the Crayola ColorWonder markers and spent as much time taking them in and out of the little bag they came with as she did coloring. We put the DVD player on once, when we were trying to get to a decent place for dinner, she watched a little but wasn't really into it. We stopped for gas, lunch, a rest stop, a fruit market, a rest stop, gas, dinner and then home. The trip was definitely worth it. Thanks for all the advice!!
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