My husband and I both come from traveling families. Our idea of travel changed dramatically when our daughter was born. I had packed one of everything she could possibly need. We had everything planned and timed just right. I would nurse our daughter right before leaving, and we'd stop once on the way if she got hungry before the 3 hour mark. Google Maps quoted us a three hour and fifteen minute trip. Just past Brenham, a little over one hour into our trip, the crying started. Noooooooo! This was not in the plan. How could it be? She just ate. There was no way she could be hungry. We pulled over to change her diaper. Nothing. We burped her. We rocked, shushed, patted. Nothing. I stripped off a layer of clothes – maybe she was hot. Nope. I checked her feet – maybe she had something in her sock poking her. Nothing. I tried to nurse her again. She wasn't interested. The crying continued. We racked our brains trying to figure out what we were missing. We had tried everything we knew to try so we got buckled and set off again. This time I sat in the back seat. I informed our hosts we would be arriving a little later than planned and to go ahead and eat dinner without us.
The crying continued, but louder. We were not prepared for, nor had we experienced this level of sound in our little Honda sedan. We pulled over again and went through the list: diaper check, burping, shushing, patting, bottle, pacifier. Nothing soothed our crying baby. We repeated this several times, driving for about 15-20 minutes each time before stopping again. By the time we could see Austin (around 10:00pm), we were no longer speaking to each other (because of the screaming, but also because of the stress). When we finally pulled into our destination 3 ½ hours later than anticipated we were wiped! We were emotionally spent and trying to process what on earth just happened. We were also dreading Sunday because we were terrified of getting back in the car for our return trip. Our daughter did end up nursing well and calming down that night. And by God's grace, she even gave us her longest stretch of sleep. We enjoyed the conference and the drive home was not great, but much quieter.
I don't share this to scare you out of traveling with young ones. Traveling has much improved since that day. I share this story because traveling with children cannot always be planned to a T and requires flexibility. Sometimes there will be tears. Sometimes your children will cry too. Sometimes you'll swerve across 4 lanes of traffic to exit for a potty-training toddler who swears they cannot wait another minute, only to find out it was a false alarm. Sometimes you'll repeat this 2 more times, and then discover a wet carseat 5 minutes after leaving the restroom (still a mystery to me). Sometimes your child will defy all odds and stay awake until 3am, requesting restroom stops in the middle of very dark, nowhere, No Buc-ee's, Texas. Other times, it will be so quiet and peaceful, you may forget you even have a child...until you feel their little feet kicking your seat or hear the ever popular, "I'm huuuuuuuungry!".
As it turns out, my daughter hated all car trips until she was old enough and we turned her carseat to forward facing. Looking back, I wonder if maybe she got car sick. If so, she definitely gets that from me. I can get car sick before we've even left our neighborhood. As far as road trips go, we've learned a few tips and tricks for Road Trips with Little Ones. Click here to read about my family road trip essentials.
Wishing you safe a happy travels!