We took the girls on their first big road trip in March that involved the crossing of multiple state lines. Normally, when I’d travel with my family, we’d pull all-nighters and get to our destination in a day and a half. That is not my husband’s favourite way of traveling (he can’t sleep in vehicles), so nightly stops is a must. Have to say, I started to favour it myself, enjoying the nightly rest in an actual bed. This is the approach we decided would be best for the girls. Wanting to respect E’s and V’s needs, we also decided to stop every few hours to allow for movement.
For safety, their carseats have a paper with information tapped to the side of them. This information consists of Hubby and my name, our birthdates, contact numbers, the girls full names, and their birthdates. For travel, I included another emergency contact, someone who wouldn’t be on holiday with us. To help tell them apart at a glance, or in the mirror, we put washi tape on the handles– rose gold for V and silver for E. We also use this same tape for their toothbrushes.
I made sure to pack a nice variety of items that they would find interesting; some oldies and some slightly challenging, for the ride itself. We purchased new crinkle paper that had tabs attached (I put away the crinkle paper at home so they would enjoy it more on the trip). A few books. Lovies with teethers attaches, pincher and palmer work, a little bag with a pull zipper, wrapped animals (I got this idea from another Montessori mother) and laminated cards of animal pictures. If needed, we had the activities and items I keep in their diaper bag, although I preferred to save those for restaurants. I specifically saved their raspberry teethers for the mountains as the chewing and sucking can help with ears during altitude changes.
The first day, due to weather, we needed to wait until we arrived at our main destination before we were able to set-up a movement area. When we were able to layout some balls, blocks, their single circle puzzle and the object permanence box. The next morning, they had some movement time before we even started off for the day. While we stopped periodically to nurse and change a few nappies, once we made it to warmer weather we stopped for an hour, laid out a blanket and let the girls explore nature. It was their first time touching (and tasting!) grass. Such a welcome experience.
One of the places we stopped to visit was the Georgia Aquarium. Around four in the afternoon, on a Monday, many people left and it was much more quieter. We were visiting the beluga exhibit when I noticed an upstairs overlook that no one seemed to checkout. We went up and laid out their mat, out of the way except for the occasional person that did venture up, and got some movement it. A great way to allow them to stretch their legs while admiring their beloved baby belugas (yes, I HAD to sing them the song, as I’m sure everyone else does, haha).
At our main destination, we stayed in an Airbnb. When choosing a rental, we made sure that there was a “yes” room, where E and V would have the freedom to move and play as they liked. We also made sure there was a separate bedroom for them, so we could replicate their home environment as much as possible. This included sticking to certain parts of their routine, like the first nap and nighttime in their beds, or rather their Lotus travel crib.
In setting up a yes area for them, I used the existing furniture to block some of the outlets and had made sure to bring some outlet covers from home for the others. I also used the homeowner’s coffee table, with a lower shelf, to prepare an environment with their materials. Upon waking we would prepare for the day, nurse, they would spend time in this area with their materials, they would take their first nap, and then we would set off on our day. While there was more time spent in a house on a vacation than we normally would, without children, it’s more important for them to have this stability in their routine so that they can enjoy their holiday as well. This makes the trip more enjoyable overall and our outings more special.
Due to global health concerns over COVID-19 that happened while on holiday, we changed our plans dramatically. Instead of going to crowded places like Epcot and Busch Gardens as we had planned, we aimed for more secluded locations on the beach, parks, and trails. This, once again, gave the girls more movement and the ability to connect with nature. We were able to carefully time a visit Mote Marine Laboratory, when there was hardly anyone there, so the girls could visit the place Dr. Eugenie Clark, aka Shark Lady, funded.
Does your family prefer road trips or air travel?
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