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Travel Files: Surviving a Long Road Trip with Safety and Sanity

Last week I got an email from my husband with the subject line “Grarg.” If you know Cody at all then you’ll know he doesn’t grarg easily. I opened it to find one line “Fine, you win. We can drive to Utah for Christmas.” First of all I didn’t know that there was a winner in such a thing or that we were even at odds about the whole thing, but whoo! I won! Second, YAY! I get to spend Christmas with my family! (My family does Christmas better than anyone else out there and I haven’t spent a Christmas back home in at least 6 years.)

The only thing that stands between us and a joyous holiday with the people we love the most? A 22 hour car ride each way with two little girls. *deflated fanfare*

We’ve made the trip twice before, once before Vivi for a funeral and once with a two month old Vivi for a wedding. The trip without Vivi went amazingly well, we managed to rent a car with a DVD player so as long as there was a Redbox where we could switch out movies every 500 miles? She was fine. Add in the fact that she was riding in her Graco Nautilus car seat and she was even more fine, cushy headreasts, a legit cupholder and cubbies for all her little treasures.

Traveling with Vivi was a different story, two months is still really little, and lest you think two month old babies just sleep wherever they are and are happy just to sit there? You would be wrong. By the time we hit the Wyoming/Utah border Vivi and I had both had enough. We both lost our damn minds in a canyon and I forced Cody to pull over whereupon I simply got out of the car and started to walk in the opposite direction. Once we finally made it to our final destination Cody said “So, you and Vivi are going to fly home. We’re not doing that again.”

And yet here we are, about to do that again.

BUT, we will be doing it much differently this time and here’s how:

First off, Vivi is now in a convertible seat. She’s a substantial little baby (toddler, FINE) and for long road trips a more spacious convertible car seat is preferable. No one sleeps as well sitting up as they do laying down so making the seat as comfortable as possible is a must. (Don’t worry about Addie, she’s still over there in her super plush Nautilus, all 50 pounds of her.)

While we were smart enough to leave at night, meaning we got a grand majority of driving out of the way while everyone was asleep) we didn’t plan for adequate rest, relaxation and wiggle time during the daylight hours. This time around we’ll drive through the night again, get as far as we can before the backseat natives begin to get restless then we’ll stop at a hotel with a pool. We’ll let the big ones (parents) take turns napping while the little ones get as much energy out in the pool as possible. We’ll set out again at night and get another large chunk of driving out of the way. Yes, it will take longer, but if we all have our wits about us in the end then so be it. There will also be multiple stops along the way for running, pottying and general mischief.

On a long road trip it’s even more important to eat really good snacks and drink lots of water. Fast food and gas station treats for two straight days doesn’t do anyone any good. While we seek out fast food restaurants with playgrounds, we go easy on the food while there and instead rely on our cooler packed with fresh fruit, granola bars, yogurt and vegetables.

TOYS! Oh my, there will be some serious stocking up on novel toys. Since Vivi is still rear facing and won’t be able to watch the same DVD’s her sister is watching, we may rig up a little baby TV with an iPod if things get desperate. Thankfully the girls have each other to stare at and Addie is an excellent help with handing out toys and snacks.

Knock on wood, but we’ll be traveling through the mountains in winter, meaning there’s a very good chance we could get stuck for a bit. While I could work myself into a tizzy worrying about such things, I’ll be prepared with the things we may need in such an event (shovels, blankets, fully charged cell phones, gloves, extra water, and food.)

It’s only 44 hours in a car for a week and half of prime holiday family time. Surely it’s worth it. Of course it is. Do you have any long road trip tricks or tips to share with us before we head out?

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Are you baby safety savvy? We’re giving away two Graco SnugRide Click Connect infant car seats! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with a personal tip on how you keep baby safe in the car.

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