Family trip 815 miles, fly or drive?

Nicholas_EJanuary 8, 2002

We are planning on going to St. Louis for a family reunion at the YMCA center. We live in Raleigh, NC and will be driving with our only son who will be 18 months at the time (June). If we drive we will take a Honda CRV, which should have enough room. If we fly it it is $200 per ticket and then we have to rent a car for a week ($200-300). We would definitely get a ticket for our son so total transportation costs would be $800-900. I'm not sure where we are going to get this money.

The other option is a 16-17 hour trip. That means gas ($100), hotel stays out and back ($200) and wear and tear on car. I want to drive becasue it might be cheaper. She thinks are sweet child will either go crazy or drive us crazy on such a long drive. I think hauling all our stuff+ car seat on a plane is also a big hassle. Though we can fly direct.

So, what would you do? We will probably do what the boss wants, fly.

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My dh and I would drive. We drove ds from Arkansas to Colorado and New Mexico (about a 15-17 hour trip) when he was 15 months and he was fine. We split the drive into 2 days and never attempted more than 8 hours worth of driving in one day. We stopped someplace every 2-3hours and let ds get out and walk around a little. It helped that he was taking at least a 2 hour nap a day and we didn't stop while he was sleeping. We tried to stick with his schedule as best as we could.

We brought plenty of snacks and toys. Sometimes I would ride in the seat next to him. We also made sure he was sitting in the middle where he could see us and look out.

Everything would depend on how well your child rides. My child has always loved car rides and we usually don't get complaints from him unless he is hungry or hasn't been outside where he could walk around for a while. We had almost non-existant fussing in the two weeks we were gone.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2002 at 5:22PM
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I'd drive.
I drove 10 hours by myself with a 4 y/o and 1 y/o a couple years ago. It wasnt' bad at all. Especially if it's summer and you get more daylight hours.

We've also done south Florida to northern Ohio several times with kids, it was an annual thing. 24 hours drive time, one way. We did it over two days and made every effort to find a hotel with an indoor pool. It's usual only a few dollars more for such accomodations and the hotels with the luxuries are usually the safer ones anyhow. It's a very relaxing way for the whole family to stretch the muscles and blow off some pent up energy. Just do a little homework before hand so you know where you are going to stop.

Now we will regulary drive with kids (now 8, 5, 2 and one more on the way) 12 hours to family in FL and 8 hours to family in OH. I have a personal philosophy about being out and on the go with kids: If you want kids you can take anywhere, you have to take them everywhere. They won't just all the sudden at the age of 14 know how to behave to go places and be comfortable with it. You have to make it a part of their life if you want them to know the protocal for behavior. So the more we've taken our kids, the better travellers they become. They are actually pretty good now.

The key is to travel on kid speed. Leave while they are still sleeping, get a couple hours in before they even wake up. We take breakfast they can eat in the car, cereal bars and bananas or such. I have a cooler that fits right between the seats. The older boys take a travel bag, a toiletries bag that they use for "sit down quiet" toys. The bag is organized and has a hanger so it can hang from the seat in front of them. If it doesn't fit in that bag, they can't take it. The little one we take a cheap little plastic basket from the $1 store, the kind with handles. So it stays open, she can get into it and find things easily, it's portable, and easy to throw the toys back in when she's done. Her toys always end up on the floor, so make it things that are easy to gather up. Expect to spend a good deal of the trip sitting next to her for company and entertainment. Be ready to stop often, let the little one run around somewhere. Take a ball and let her kick it around the grassy area at a rest area or something. And there is nothing worse than a toddler with a dirty diaper strapped in a car seat, so check that often! I have found that car travel (travel in general) contipates the littlest ones, so give lots of fluids.

Anyhow, I'd drive. Plane tickets for a family of 5, going on 6, is out of the question. And getting there is half the fun! The great American family road trip, it's never too young to start!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2002 at 7:49PM
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We're driving from California to Utah next month, which we've already done once before. it's around 12 hours- 15 with bay area traffic. we borrowed a tv vcr unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter from some friends- DS just watched videos, slept and ate. It was a very easy, do-able ride. (except that we were going NUTS listening to bob the builder over and over.) as long as you spread it out over 2 days (we did it in one, it was a hard night) I think you ought to be fine. Prepare to stop often, bring lots of snacks! good luck!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2002 at 12:37AM
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Remember too that if you fly you will probably have to add car rental fees too, which can get pretty expensive unless you can find a good deal.

We've never had a problem traveling with my DD - we took her on long flights and long car trips when she was your son's age, but I always made sure we were prepared to keep her entertained - things to play with, snacks, (if by car) times to stretch her legs, etc.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2002 at 8:31AM
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Nicholas - I would definitely allow 2 days. You don't need a top of the line motel just to sleep in, so you should be able to find a reasonable room for not over $40 per night. Just go into the trip knowing that the child will determine a lot - like how often you stop, how many hours per day you drive, etc. That kind of attitude ahead of time will eliminate a lot of the stress. We drove 8 hours with my DS when he was about 2 1/2 - left at 5 am., and he slept 6 1/2 hours of the way! And definitely borrow a TV thingy if you can. We didn't have one, but we listened to NSYNC sing "bye bye bye" for well over an hour, but it did the trick!

Good luck


    Bookmark   January 10, 2002 at 4:16PM
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I can see your wife's point about flying. A 15-17 hour drive is not appealing. If the issue is travel convenience with a baby then, given flying today, I don't know how much convenience you are getting for your money if you add up the actual time spent pre-flight, flight and post flight- You have the time you spend driving to the airport. You have to be at the airport three hours early. Your flight will probably be at least two hours long and then you are at five hours already, assuming no delays. That doesn't take into account arriving at the airport at your destination, retrieving the bags and picking up the rental car which is probably another hour. We just returned from a trip which involved flying. Our 14 month old was a handful in the airport. She wasn't content to sit in her stroller while we waited in security lines for 45 minutes, so my husband and I had to walk around with her a lot. I didn't want her to be in the shuttle to the car rental office, so I waited with her and the bags while my husband picked up the car. Then we had to install the car seat in a car we weren't familiar with. It seems far easier to have a two to three day trip in your own car at your own pace. I would definitely agree that driving during normal sleeping times for your baby is key. At least with our daughter, if it is nap time or bed time she doesn't mind being in her carseat. Leaving 3 hours before she wakes in the morning leaves only 3-4 hours where she is awake and in her carseat. If I were making the trip I think I would try to pick some interim destinations. This way the trip appears to be more manageable. It is more appealing to drive for 7.5 to 8.5 hours with something fun at the end of the day. On the other hand, driving will take more time. Do you want to use precious vacation days in transit?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2002 at 5:30PM
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We drove from NYC to Iowa, staying with friends along the way (which was part of the reason for the drive) when our daughter was about that age. It turned out to be fun, but we only drive about 8 hours a day--NAPTIME!.

Here's how we handled the kid in the car seat. Get up, eat breakfast, gas up car, let kid run around and play while all these things are being done, EVERYBODY GO POTTY BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR. Get in the car, strap her in, she's in a good mood, talk, sing, point out stuff outside the window, she draws or colors, sometimes mommy got in the back to read story books, or tilted the seat way back (not the safest, though).

Then, eventually, she falls asleep for a morning nap. Drive as far as possible--NO STOPS! (she wakes up at stops; hence the urgent need for the grownups to go potty, just in case, even if they don't think they need to or just went before lunch--go again now, you CANNOT STOP once the kid is asleep) Since she's lulled by the car, her morning nap is longer than usual.

When she wakes, begin the search for food. (and a bathroom; we also did this right after she'd been potty trained; we used pull-ups for the trip in case, but had to get her to the bathroom if at all possible)

Eat lunch, find some sort of playground (fast-food play area, or occasionally a city park) and let her run around for an hour. EVERYBODY GO POTTY BEFORE YOU GET BACK IN THE CAR!

Back in the car, more talking and pointing out the window, etc. She gets lulled to sleep again for a long afternoon nap.

When she wakes, find a bathroom and supper, then drive to the town we're staying in. It worked out pretty well in terms of distance, we usually arrived there right at dinner time. Playtime in the evening, and a sort of late bedtime because of all the extra-long naps in the car.

The really long part of the trip was NYC to Clarion, PA (here we had to stay in a hotel). Then to South Bend, IN. Then over to Peoria, IL, then to the center of Iowa (the shortest hop of all). That'll give you an idea of how many miles you could hope to cover with a pleasant schedule.

We stayed in very inexpensive hotels (Super 8, Day's Inn, Motel 6--it only has to be clean and safe, not w/ a pool or anything, and we brought our own playpen bcs the cribs were not very good, but it was cheap),

We played in the hallways, alcoves, and outdoor walkways of the hotels (at 18months, everything is fun!) had great fun looking out the windows (I hate the new fences along the interstates in populated areas; I understand them, but boy they're boring!).

    Bookmark   January 11, 2002 at 10:38AM
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We drive everywhere we go. We go out of state several times a year. We have driven from Phoenix, AZ to VA until we got there, no stops to sleep! My boys, 3 and 2 (3 and 4 now)at the time where very good. They travel very well and we are either in a pickup truck or a Chrylser Cirrus. Much cheaper. Though I can't stand the traveling myself. My oldest sleeps more at home than while traveling it seems! But, they are good unless they feel the other is bugging them.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2002 at 8:13PM
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I would fly - my dd is 21 months and gets so bored in the car, so I wouldn't be able to stand the noise from the backseat. Your wife probably wants to fly for another reason as well - bear in mind she has your son at home all day (I gather she doesn't work?) whilst you are at work. Unless he is a little angel in the behavioural department (which my dd wasn't at that age), he is bound to stress her out at certain times during the day which you do not see (maybe only hear about), so therefore the thought of a long car trip with the possibility of your son stressing your wife out could be reason to get the trip over and done with as fast as possible. I'm not saying he will behave himself and not stress her out (or you) on a plane trip (my dd doesn't travel well on long plane trips but at least the end is in sight a lot quicker than if we drove), but this option certainly is more appealing to me. I would certainly like to arrive in a good mood and not dread the fact that we have the same travel time back home again (if the forward sector was unpleasant!)Good Luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 8:14AM
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    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 1:45PM
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FLY!!! But then I have a child that HATES to be in his car seat for more than about an hour! If you do drive make sure and let your wife drive some of the time to relieve her from in the car childcare...

    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 11:20PM
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Go ahead and drive! We drove from NJ to Michigan with the boys when they were 15 months old... 700 miles, about 13 hours. We split it up over two days, and stayed at a hotel. They were fine, and the drive wasn't too bad. Though, we did make the mistake thinking that driving at night would help keep them on schedule for sleeping/naps. We drove through rain and construction in the dark, with large transport trucks whizzing past us, and it scared the crap out of one of the boys. He cried for nearly 3 hours. My nerves were shot. We'd never do that again! The ride back to NJ was a breeze!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2002 at 1:26PM
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Do you have a small TV and VCR you could take along. Kids music videos would be great. It sure would make the trip a lot easier on the driver. Take books, color books, and a bag of dum-dums and you'll be there before you know it. If you get a chance visit the Magic House in St Louis. They have a nice science museum too but the Magic House would be more appealing for an 18 month old. This is from another forum on hooking up a VCR, "I like your idea Christie, with the TV/VCR. Went this morning to Sams club to look at them. They ranged from two hundred to five hundred. I went over to the automotive section and picked up a 400 watt inverter instead, for twenty-nine dollars. This changes the cigarette lighter into two 110 volt outlets. Now they can bring their own TV/VCR and when they get older they can take along a computer, fax machine, or whatever! We are fortunate enough to have a extended van so Barney and BeeBop can entertain behind me. Still will need the ear plugs, but life should be a little more comfortable." Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2002 at 7:16PM
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Drive, and leave at night so he can sleep all night in the car. In the morning stop for breakfast, you can switch drivers so the second person can rest. Buy several new toys and books to dole out through the trip. We took a trip from MI, to PA to NJ, NY and back when my daughter was 18 mos. She did not care for the length of time in the car, who can blame her with a 5 point harness on. We never had to deal with that when I was a kid. But even so, we took a plane when she was 3 mos. from MI to CA. That was NO FUN. Absolutely no way to change a baby, no privacy for breast feeding, no way to even stand up for a miniute if you want. You are completely at the mercy of the airlines, whatever delays, etc. NO WAY, keep control of the situation by driving that way you can respond to your childs needs when and how you want to.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2002 at 8:35AM
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