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Old 07-12-2012, 10:04 PM   #1
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LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

We're moving to Alaska next summer (DH is Army). If we do some serious driving, the trip will take 5-ish days. DD will be 26ish months. We were stationed there a few years ago and made the drive in winter. It was just me and DH then, and we had an awesome time and really want to make the drive again because this time we'll be traveling in the summer and it will be totally different.

Currently DD is an average traveler, but obviously I don't know what her personality/car seat behavior will be like a year from now. So just generally speaking, is this even doable? Or would the average toddler be a total basket case by day 2? We're thinking about maybe splitting it up--drive 2-3 days, stop and "vacation" somewhere for 3-4 days, and then finish the drive. Or would it be easier on her just to drive 5 days straight and get it over with? Or is the whole idea crazy?

Just wondering if this is something I can realistically look forward to, or if I need to just accept that it's not gonna happen and we'll need to fly.


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Old 07-12-2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

I am of the impression that kids need to suck it up, and the earlier you start the better. We are taking our 5, 3, and 1 year olds from Indiana to Miami for fall break, and driving. We've done Minnesota, and Florida before. So...

Buy a car DVD player. It will save your sanity.

Color Wonder rocks

Stickers kill time, even if they are messy.

Magnets on a cookie sheet are fun.

My kids love Magna Doodle.

We don't stop too much. If kids are used to stopping, they expect it and whine for it all the time. We stop for meals tbut that is it. I try to find McDonalds with playgrounds when I can.

We try to travel at night while they are sleeping as much as possible.

Bring LOTS of sippy cups. You can never find a clean one when you need one!
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:17 PM   #3
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Is it doable? Yes

We moved across the country and I had to spend most of the time next to DD playing games, singing, etc. she is not a good traveler, but she survived.

If you can, I'd not do serious driving and I'd take some breaks. We usually tried with getting on the road around naptime. Sleeping in hotels and when we did it a second time, we stopped a couple days in the middle to take a break.

If you must do it quickly and you have the means, flying might be easier. But I think it's certainly doable.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:19 PM   #4
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

We are also ARMY, and our drive for our last PCS was 31 hours. We made our longest driving day 7 hours (it's hard for me to drive much more than that, and we did a DITY, so hubby was driving the moving truck). Most of the time we could get 2 - 2.5 hour stretches out of our then 20 month old daughter. We always got on the road early, so that we could be stopped by mid afternoon, AKA, witching hour for most little kids.

I think if you drove for 2 - 2 1/2 days, stopped for 2 days, maybe drove another day, then stopped for another carseat free day, you will be able to make the rest of the trip pretty peacefully.

Start stocking up on new toys, a DVD player, music CDs, books, etc. That way, everything you give her in the car will be new and exciting.

It's definitely realistic. Just plan well, and be prepared for her to have good stretches and tough ones. We drive long distances frequently. Some trips are easier than others, but I always go into it with the understanding that I might have to stop every 30 minutes, or I might get lucky and get to go 3 hours!

I think it would be tons of fun and an awesome experience. Good luck with the decision!
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:35 PM   #5
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

Completely doable. It won't all be fun and games, but you can break it up and you'll all survive. I also agree that the sooner kids learn that you aren't going to stop every 5 minutes, the better. However, pack lots of activities, drive like the wind while she's sleeping, and make sure to find places where she can run around when you stop. PP gave lots of great ideas.

When we take long trips, I give each child a bin take in the car. They can put whatever they like in it (for the littles, I pack their bin, because obviously, they can't see past their current favorite toy). They usually empty their bin all over the seat, but it buys us a chunk of good driving time while they are doing that. Also, we bring an iPod, iPad, DS, etc., and rotate those through the kids for a few hours. Snacks can buy you some more time. We try to stop early enough in the evening so that we can swim in the hotel pool, and order pizza in our room. We find that playing in the water for awhile helps let the kiddos unwind and burn off energy, and eating in the room means that no one has to sit at the restaurant table in a mannerly fashion after sitting in the car all day.

Good luck! I hope that your move is easy and uncomplicated.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:41 PM   #6
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We moved cross country in April about 2000 miles. We had 2 cars, 7 kids ages 16, 11, 9, 6, 5, 2 and 8 months old, we also had 2 cats and 2 dogs with us. We made a goal of 500 miles a day and that was very doable. We stopped at rest stops for them to run and let the dogs out.

We started drivin early so we would be done by bed time. I did not want the sleeping in the car at bedtime and not sleeping in the hotel. We have a DVD system in our van with wireless headphones and I got a few new movies. We kept snacks and water bottles in the cars. It was a long 4 days but the kids did so well. I would have never hought the baby would do so good as he hates the caraway but he cried maybe 10 minutes the whole way!
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:19 PM   #7
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

When we moved from Michigan to Alaska, we had a 2 yr old. He did just fine. When we moved from alaska to Nevada we had a 2 yr old. She also did just fine. Both times we made sure to stop for a few minutes every couppe of hours, we took a couple longer breaks (spent a few hours looking at Mt Rush ore). On the way there we took the ferry from Washington, which was nice -- lots of room to move around (we did a partial dity up there) and on the way out we stopped in Edmonton for a couple of days (did a full dity on the way out).
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:14 AM   #8
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

It just depends on the child. The most we've done is 12 hours, stopping every 3 hours, and I was still not really "happy" about it. DS did okay, but we had his nana with us playing with him the entire time (I get carsick in the backseat). He did fine when he was awake, but he did NOT sleep well when we tried to drive overnight. I am not in a hurry to repeat the experience.

That said... If you decide to do it, I wouldn't try to do super long stretches. IMO, it would be more enjoyable to pick out destinations that occur every 3 or so hours, and take an hour break at each of those. Preferably somewhere fun where your DD can work out some energy. I also suggest stopping at night, because everyone needs a break from a car.

How long do you have to make the drive? Where are you moving FROM (which state)?

If it were me, and I were moving from my state, Tennessee, to Alaska, here's what I would do... I'd travel from Knoxville to Lexington, KY and stop there at a park. I'd go from there to Indianapolis and stop there for a break. I'd drive to Chicago and stay overnight (total for the day, about 9 hours plus breaks). The next morning I'd take a detour to Milwaukee and tool around on the lake for a couple hours, then I'd drive to Minneapolis/st paul and spend the night/tool around for a while there. I'd then head to Fargo, ND, and try to find something interesting there to do for a few hours. At that point I'd prepare for a pretty long jaunt to Regina, Canada. I'd spend the night there, get up and drive to Edmonton. Edmonton's pretty cool, so I'd stay there a couple days, maybe taking a side trip to Banff National Park, which is really amazing. At that point, you're starting to get into amazing scenery and national parks, and while your DD won't appreciate that necessarily, it should offer some opportunities to stop and explore every few hours on a hiking trail or a small town.

Anyway, you get the drift. Just plan for something to do every few hours, and make the drive the POINT of the trip, not the PAIN of the trip.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:54 AM   #9
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

We drove from California to Arkansas when my son was 22 months old and I was 7 months pregnant. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't my favorite time ever either We made sure to have a DVD player to keep him entertained and then books/toys/snacks. We stopped every two hours to get out of the car and walk inside a store, eat, play outside, whatever for at least 30 minutes. It took us a good three and a half days to drive like that, but we made it. My pediatrician had told me that a toddler should not be subjected to being in his car seat for more than 5 hours a day. While I appreciated that, there was no way we could do that, it would have taken us a week to get to Arkansas driving at just 5 hours a day. I think we were on the road for about 10-12 hours a day including stops? It's hard to remember, I blocked it out, LOL

ETA we were on a time crunch, DH had to get back to work by that Monday, so we didn't have the luxury of taking our time and driving slow/site-seeing. If you've got the time, do it slowly!!
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:55 AM   #10
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Re: LONG road trip with 2 yr old -- terrible idea?

Thank you for all the suggestions! Everyone's given me hope
Luckily we have a ton of time to make the trip. We could take a month if we wanted to. For my own personal sanity I want to make it as quickly as possible...hopefully not much longer than a week. I'm really looking forward to the drive, but I know how quickly I get sick of being in the car so I'm trying to be realistic!

We definitely want to stop at night. We have tried driving through the night before when visiting family (14 hrs), and while DD did awesome, DH and I were so exhausted.

@dancermommy we are in GA currently but will probably visit family in MI before we leave. We saw a lot of Canada during our last trip, and this time we'd like to drive through the US and go north through WA, since there are a lot of states we haven't seen that way. I really like the idea of planning out the trip so we know our stops in advance. Having a huge dog makes that even more necessary, since we need to make sure the hotel will allow pets.

She'll probably surprise us and do better than I'm expecting. I take comfort in the fact that if it turns out to be a huge disaster, DD and I can just hop on a plane at the nearest airport and DH can finish the drive with the dog
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