Smooth travels take careful planning

By | March 10, 2021

I completely relate to the advertisement on television where the father keeps travelling past the drive thru window ad McDonald’s in the middle of the night.

He doesn’t stop for fear of waking the baby asleep in the back seat, but clearly the dad needs a coffee to keep him awake.

He drives through once to make the order and again to pick up the coffee. Fortunately the girl at the service window catches on to his situation.

There was no drive-thru window with coffee service when my youngest was born, it would have been great. My husband and I resorted to going for a drive to settle our collicky baby on many occasion.

Once we were convinced they were asleep we would stop and ever so carefully attempt to relocate them from their car capsule to their cot. It didn’t always work.

It was however, a wonderful time of momentary peace to listen to the sound of silence – no crying baby – as we travelled around, and around, and around the block.

That was the start of our association with backseat parenting. Or should I say, surviving parenting while travelling.

In the early days putting our baby in the back seat and going for a drive was the perfect way to get them to sleep. But usually you only got one shot at it.

We often travelled to visit family who lived about five hours drive away. But it required some careful planning – leaving in the evening when bub was sleepy was always a good option.

Of course once we arrived at our destination the baby had already slept and was wide awake for the late evening … and so were we.

Plan B was to leave mid-morning when they were likely to settle for a sleep. However, if you had to stop en route it needed to be quick – that was usually a pull over and change driver scenario.

Please be clear, the careful planning had nothing to do with ensuring minimal disturbance to a routine for the child … it was all about a peaceful trip for the parents.

But just when you think you have a fail-proof system, they require a different approach. The best travelling baby is a sleeping baby and the same applies for a toddler, but it doesn’t always work, packing snacks, colouring-in books and the like are essential.

Moving forward to the school-aged child, then teenager, calls for even more strategic planning – especially with more than one child in the back seat.

There is an invisible line drawn to separate each child’s space in that back seat and if one child should happen to venture into the space of another the concept of peaceful travel is over.

Car games such as I spy were popular with my children but no-one wants to play that for four or five hours. Meanwhile, reading books tended to make two of my three children feel car sick.

Car games such as I spy were popular with my children but no-one wants to play that for four or five hours.

But the best invention ever introduced to my children was the portable DVD player. Yep that’s right I sat my children down in front of a screen for several hours to ensure some travel tranquility.

Even with our children at varying ages spanning nine years we managed to keep them entertained for hours with a mutual movie choice while on road trips.

That combined with planned stops for a snack or take in a popular sight en route to our destination put the joy back into holiday road trips.

Despite the travel challenges, we have headed off on many family road trips over the years. Clearly the fun experienced at the destination is worth the challenge of getting there.

  • Mother-of-three grown kids, ACM editor Mumma Jak is familiar with the many, varied ways to raise well-rounded humans.

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