Well, we made it to Florida and back….barely. The drive there wasn’t too bad, even though it was pouring down rain for about 70 percent of the drive. The girls were pretty well-behaved, and we had the assistance of my parents. That, coupled with free movie downloads from Netflix and the excitement of warm weather made the trip there manageable and rather un-eventful (besides a small puke incident from Rowe, a brief 25 minute bout of being “lost”, and my mother cutting open her head in the van).
The drive home, on the other hand, was pretty much a nightmare. We left my grandparents’ house in in North Fort Myers at around 7:15 a.m. It usually takes around five hours to get to Georgia. We had our luggage carrier strapped on the van (this carrier is about 20+ years old, by the way), the girls in their seats with their morning milk, and some tunes on the radio. Our goal was to stop for breakfast just north of Tampa at around 9 a.m.
About an hour into our drive we hit some traffic. Our GPS gave us an alternate route so and we decided to take it rather than sit in the traffic jam. No sooner had we exited the highway that we realized Rowe had puked on herself! We pulled over on the side of the road, cleaned her up, changed her clothes and Nick checked on the luggage carrier. It was getting loose (yikes) and the car was beginning to smell.
Rather than risk getting lost off the route, we decided to hop back on the highway. 9 a.m. came and went and we STILL hadn’t made it to Tampa. We finally passed Tampa at around 10:00, pulled off to get gas and breakfast. While we were getting gas we realized Lennon had thrown up! I stripped her down and took her into the gas station to clean her up. The women’s restroom was “occupied”. I waited a bit but I had a practically naked toddler covered in puke so I just went for it and took her into the men’s. I cleaned her up in the sink and changed her clothes. There went another half hour!
We actually had a rather enjoyable breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and then decided to find somewhere to buy more ratchet straps for the luggage carrier because we were convinced it was going to fly off the top of the car and cause a major accident. Luckily there was an auto store nearby, and Nick was able to re-secure the carrier in about a half an hour. We were now four hours into our trip and only about 1.5 hours from where we had started.
I forgot to mention, we bought a tiny can of Lysol for $5.00 at the gas station and doused the car in it. Best $5.00 I ever spent.
Throughout the rest of Florida we hit traffic jam after traffic jam after traffic jam. I think we FINALLY made it to Georgia around 4:30/5 p.m. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through Florida. At around 6:15 p.m. we stopped at a McDonald’s with a PlayPlace so that the girls could move around and release some energy. Well guess what…there was a bus load of kids inside and in line! We didn’t even get to place our order for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting for the crowd to thin, we changed the girls. But I had left their overnight diapers in the van. Nick ran out to get them and THE KEYS WERE LOCKED IN THE CAR. Our van, a Town & Country, isn’t supposed to even allow that to happen!
Thankfully I have AAA. We called, and were told someone should be there after 8 p.m. That’s 1.5 hours to spend at a McDonald’s with two tired, cranky toddlers. Oh boy. We even tried calling the local police station to see if they could help….no dice. After we ate Nick decided to go and check the car doors one more time. By some miracle, the passenger door opened and we were able to get the keys and we were back on the road around 7:15 p.m.
The rest of the trip included cranky babies who we refused to give milk again in fear of another puking episode, rain storms, snow, and a very tired mom and dad. We finally made it home at 7:30 a.m. Our 18 hour road trip took 24 hours. But hey, we survived!
Will we do it again? Maybe. Will we be prepared should there be a next time…you know it! Here are some of my recommendations before you venture out on your next toddler-accompanied road trip.
TODDLER ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS
- Multiple changes of clothes.
- A bag with wipes, diapers, snacks, Tylenol, diaper cream, etc. that is easily accessible. I recommend overnight diapers or to size up for the drive. Less leaks!
- Multiple bottles/sippys so you don’t have to wash them all the time.
- LYSOL and disinfectant wipes.
- A tablet with movies and TV shows pre-downloaded (and a charger).
- Dress your kids in layers and bring blankets.
- First Aid kit.
- Extra bags for trash, puke clothes, dirty wipes, etc.
- Busy bags! Below is what we had in ours. Each of the girls has their own backpack, and the contents below were in each pack. Except for the LeapPad and the driving simulator toy – we only packed one of those.
Items in each busy bag: Blocks, memory cards, books, silly frog, bunny clapper, light up bunny wand, toy phone, toy remote, stickers, stuffed rabbit, finger puppet, books, new McDonald’s toys (I didn’t open these until we were on the trip so they were “new”), snacks. Not pictured: sippy cup, princess tambourine, blanket, Wubbanub.
- Kids songs radio station and/or playlist.
- Calming bottles – I attempted to make one of these and failed. I think I messed up the glitter glue/water ratio. Then I never found the time to try it again!
- Grandma & grandpa – I highly suggest multiple adult travel companions if you have the space. My parents were unbelievably helpful on our drive down.
Good luck to you on your next road trip, may your adventure be smooth and uneventful!