Friday, August 28, 2009

Toddler Road Tripping

Fifteen short days from today we head out (oh gosh). Seven days of driving, two (very short) days of rest with our friends in Memphis and then another day and a half to South Carolina. That will work if Emi cooperates and allows us to make more than the required 300 miles per day (we are hoping for 360-380). Yes, I know most folks try for more miles of driving in a day (hi mom!) but 300 is what we have to do per the travel rules for Jeff's job so that's what we are aiming at. If we do indeed hit those extra 60-80 miles (per day) we can stop for two days of relaxing, being pampered and doing some laundry.

So, in order to make all that time cooped up in a car seat doable, we needed to come up with a plan. I was chatting with the gal from Why Do We Even Have That Lever? (bonus points to those that know the movie she is referencing ... love that movie!). She is planning a trip across Canada with her two little ones (twenty months and four years), and we were discussing what to do with our kids to keep them happy (and quiet). We each decided to post about what we thought about, and get more idea from our readers. So, dear readers, please feel free to chime in! (BTW, here is a link to her post, there are some great ideas there!)

At the time of departure, Emi will be 31 months. A very rambunctious, never sit still, 31 months. Oh my. That said, she LOVES to watch movies/dvr'd tv (which is the only tv she watches as I am terribly fussy). We have the portable dvd player than my mom gave to Emi way back when (thanks mom, it's been a life saver!) and quite a few movies, tv episodes on dvd's, etc.

My plan is taking along the following:
  • Movies/TV on DvD's (see below)
  • Sticker/Activity Books (*)
  • Colorforms Travel Books (*)
  • Lacing Beads (in a baggie)
  • Crayons and blank paper books (Emi is more into her own thing, regular coloring books just sit unused - these may only be used if one of us is sitting in back with her, something that we have planned each day towards the end of the day - when she's had it with riding in the car)
  • A selection of Little People in a baggie (her fav group -horses, a couple of people, a dog, etc- that she uses to play Cinderella)
  • A couple of stuffed animals (Most likely: Bear and MeiMei, as they are her fav's right now. However, we are bringing ALL of Emi's bedtime friends - packed in the trunk. We are going to suggest to her each morning to pick out one or two, ideally, to ride with in the car. This is something that always happens when we leave the house - we ask "who's going with?" Emi then chooses one animal or doll to go to Target, the grocery store, whatever.)
  • Travel Snack tray (to make playing much easier)
  • It is my plan (if I have time) to get some books on CD from the library (or downloads if I am really lucky) and add them to my Fuze (sorta like an iPod, without the Apple attitude). Emi is just barely getting the concept of listening without seeing a movie playing. Hence why it's not high on my list, also, it's a headphones only activity and we just don't do a lot of headphones for her.)
  • A new special 'trip' stuffed animal - a unicorn that will meet her for the first time, sitting in her car seat on the first day of the drive
For the times where we get out of the car for breaks, we are bringing a ball and a new little pull-along zebra. She loves to walk Max, but Max isn't so sure that's a good thing. So, we are hoping that she will walk her zebra while one of us walks Max. Also, we are going to use the zebra as a non-food bribe to get back into the car. Basically tell her that if she gets back in the car when it's time without fussing, she will be able to walk zebra again the next time. Emi does very well with these kinds of things, mainly as we hold firm. I have only had to with-hold something once, and she's never forgotten. (We also plan to bring a little timer, set it for however long we want to stop. When the timer goes off it's time to get back in the car. This is something else that works well with Emi, and something she deals with better than one of us telling her.)

Movies/TV: The list includes (but not limited to):

I really wanted to have a very good selection of stuff, mainly as Jeff and I will be listening to a lot of these. We are not big fans of putting head phones on Emi (now and again is fine, all the time is not). With my hearing issues, we are probably a bit more weirded out about head phones than most.
*BTW, I linked to our most fav's but there as so many of each to choose from.

*Note: In addition to the new Kai-lan dvd, some of the things from the above list (colorforms, books, etc) are going to be wrapped and handed out as needed. I also have a couple of Little People tubes that she hasn't seen yet, to add to the wrapped stuff. We have a trip (flying) planned to Canada for a very special wedding at the end of October. Anything we don't need from this list, we most likely will take with us for the plane.


Kate said...

Alice has just discovered finger puppets. Also how about fuzzy felts, lacing cards, a magic wand, aquadraw? If you're brave you could try some musical instruments to play along to favourite songs! Bubbles and a hula hoop for breaks in the journey.

As for films, Alice's favs are Beauty and the Beast, Tinkerbell, Sleeping Beauty, Shrek, Fifi and the Flowertots (that maybe a UK one!).

Hope some of that might help, safe journey,
Kate x

Lythrum said...

My main advice is to plan to stop often. You're going to have your dog along too right? I would seriously advise stopping every hour or so to let everyone stretch their legs out. I think Rowan's limit is about five hours. Once you get past that she melts down quickly. The thing that kept her entertained the longest, oddly enough was a toothbrush. She has an obsession with them. ;) We brought along a couple of word books, a Magnadoodle and some snacks to hand her. When are you planning on leaving Memphis and by what route? You should be passing by close to us in Huntsville, maybe we could do lunch. ;)

Magi said...

Sera has a tray pretty much identical to the one you linked. It worked great for meals, but she didn't like to keep it on otherwise. I had thought she could use it for coloring/activity books, but that didn't pan out for us.

Her Aquadoodle was a big hit as well as the smaller, travel versions of the Magnadoodle. She loves to sing, so we listened to a lot of music. Luckily, we've convinced her that Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Air Supply, etc... are the best groups ever. That won't last long. ;o)

For movies, we watched a lot of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Finding Nemo was also a huge hit. I would hit fast forward as soon as it began so we always skipped the shark eating the mom scene. I know Happy Feet was a controversial movie for some, but Sera loves the penguins and the music. We played it over and over again for her.

Naptime always helps. If we could get her to sleep, she would sleep for 2-3 hours. That helped us get some miles in. We would try to time it so we wouldn't need to stop while she napped. Stopping would sometimes wake her up.

Believe it or not one of the big hits on our drive was looking for cows and horses. There was no shortage of them crossing Nebraska and Iowa. In Wyoming, it was more like looking for antelope.

Stopping at rest areas was really nice. We could pull out our small camp stove and grill chicken or hot dogs. Sera would run around in the grass while we relaxed. In fact, it was at one of these stops in Nebraska that we lost Mei Mei the First, but don't tell Sera. She hasn't caught on that Mei Mei returned a few weeks after us looking very refreshed.

As for the headsets. You can buy special headsets for children that limits the volume level and fits their head. We haven't bought one yet, but I want to do so. You can only listen to Cinderella so many times in a row. ;o)

Good luck! I'm hoping it goes as well for you as it did for us. In fact, Sera told me this morning that we needed to pack our suitcases and go on a trip. We're turning her into a traveller.

Magi said...

Holy cow! I wrote a book. Sorry!

amy said...

You are sooooo good at planning friend!

Super Mommy said...

May the Force Be With You ... hopefully it will go smoother than anticipated, but you're doing great to be prepared! Love the title of your post BTW ;0)

Lisa (Briana's Mom) said...

Wishing you the best of luck on your long journey! You sound very ready to me!!!

Louanne said...

It will go well, don't worry. On our way to South Carolina last month we went 950 miles the first day since we left at 5 am. Nadia was doing so well we just drove all the way to Augusta and got a hotel.

You have a lot of good ideas and it will pass the time. Nadia has also made up games on the last 2 trips that crack her up.

Gina (Caleeo) said...

Olivia LOVES the first two Shrek movies and is now totally into the Wiggles. We have a little Dora color book that you color with a special water filled pen and when it dries it is blank again. O has been loving that.

Special treats are a huge hit here too - I found some organic lollipops on Amazon that are great to pull out in emergencies.

'Course you know we differ significantly than most in our approach to driving trips. We get up early, shove some food in and hit the road and usually don't stop 'till lunch time. An easy day is 600 miles, 800 is more challenging but doable.