My husband's family lives some 1,400 miles away. Last week we packed up our car, loaded three kids into their car seats and set out to conquer the 22 hour drive!
To say I was nervous about taking a 22 hour road trip with three children ages 3 and under is a bit of an understatement. If it were just our son, I would have expected it to be a breeze. He is after all, at three years old, a veteran of this travel thing! But we were also taking our short attention spanned, 3 year old foster daughter and our just starting to walk, 1 year old foster daughter. So for weeks in advance I worried and stewed over how terribly bad this was going to be.
To prepare, I packed up plenty of snacks (animal crackers for the older ones and cheerios and puffs for the little one). I also packed a little bag for our Pumpkin filled with his combine (his grandma and grandpa had just started harvesting wheat the day before we left), his semi truck, and his tractor and trailer. For Missy, I filled a little bag with her baby doll and bottle, a couple little ponies, and a couple barbies. I then also brought along out mini and normal size magna doodles (these by the way were a BIG hit!). For Little Miss, I just brought some random baby toys and some touch and feel books. We also have a DVD player in our car and our friend let us borrow a couple movies for the road (new-to-us movies to keep us really interested!).
The trip there went so unbelievably well. Pumpkin has never been allowed to watch much TV, so anytime he gets to watch a movie he is GLUED. So this is always a good way to pass time with him. But Missy, has a short attention span as I mentioned above and every time we'd say we were gonna watch a movie, she was excited but within 5 minutes was done! This greatly concerned a certain Momma, but she either played with her barbies or baby QUIETLY for the entire movie!!! YIPEE! To say I was surprised is the understatement of the year!
My husband and I discussed how it seems that children do live up to your expectations and in our home we do expect them to behave, listen and follow directions; not that they do this all the time but it sure seemed to hold out on our journey!
I also packed a small blanket for each of them and a small pillow for the big kids because we drive the whole 22 hours at once and drive through the night. This seemed to help them be able to transition into bedtime because we reclined their car seats and pulled out the blankets and pillows after we stopped to go potty for the night and it was just a help with the transition to night-night time!
The one main hiccup with our trip was that Little Miss (who had NO teeth) started getting her first tooth on the drive there. She was fussier than normal and thank goodness I had brought the tylenol and teething gel to help with her pain.
The way home was much the same, they did very well although I felt they were a little more rambunctious, but I feel that was due to the fact that our generally structured schedule was a little less structured while we were away. (we did stick to nap times and bed times as best we could) Little Miss, also had a cold on the way home so once again she was fussier than normal, but nothing that we could not handle.
Another tip for traveling with small children: I brought the big kids each a water bottle and whenever they would ask me for a drink, I would give them their water bottle. I would only let them have about 3 or 4 swigs and then I'd take it back. This was just to make sure that they weren't drinking a whole bottle of water at once. This worked very well, because other than stopping to go potty for bedtime; I think we only had to make a special stop to go potty one time the whole trip. Other than that, they always made it until we stopped for gas, which is when we also get food.