Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Traveling With Two Toddlers

on June 20, 2012

We just got back from Southern California where we watched our lovely nieces graduate high school and middle school. It was a great trip and one we wouldn’t have missed for anything, but the girls being just two years old makes traveling 500 miles a special challenge.

I made a pretty brilliant plan for the trip down, if I don’t say so myself. We would start at the girls’ regular bed time of 7pm and drive past the midpoint to the top of the Grapevine in 5 hours, stay overnight, have breakfast in the morning, drive 3o minutes to a MyGym (indoor playground) for a toddler class and play time, then power down the last 2 hours of freeway, hopefully with sleeping toddlers.

As I anticipated, the toddlers did not like sleeping in the car seats, which is why this overnight plan was made. Just like big humans, our toddlers prefer to be unfettered and free to toss and turn while sleeping (unlike when they were babies and traveled pretty easily even for long distances). So we had a short initial stretch when two babies were sleeping, then Audrey was uncomfortable and loud about it, then Rachel. Eventually both passed out, exhausted and angry. An hour later we reached our stopping point.

Transferring babies into their pods after we move our own stuff in is relatively easy. One parent stays in the car while the other goes in, checks the room and unloads baby tents. Then back to the car where each parent tries to unbuckle and lift a sleeping girl and move her without waking her. Usually somebody wakes up. But our girls are not too hard to coax back to sleep. As long as we get settled and turn off lights soon after they are deposited in their pods, all is usually well.

In this case, Audrey woke briefly for the transfer, then happily and immediately cozied down in her tent pod and closed her eyes. Rachel watched us quietly organizing for a bit, then I moved her into my eye line to sleep, as she seemed to need a little extra reassurance. All was well.

The morning plan went off with just one hitch: a diaper blowout of epic proportions that had us washing laundry in the bathtub. Minus one pillow, we hit Denny’s for breakfast and then hit the road. The play gym was a really fun time for the girls and with that stop we were half an hour further south by nap time. The car naps didn’t last more than an hour, but the girls missing some sleep is better than the girls missing all sleep. And they tolerated being in the car seats for the last hour pretty well.

The way home has Coalinga as the most “convenient” stopping point, if you want to get 5 hours up the road. It’s not a lovely place, unless you are a tiny flying pest or a stinky cow pie scent molecule, in which case it is the place to be. In any case, we didn’t do so well with our overnight here. The place was sweltering and the air conditioning in our hotel room was woefully inadequate, taking 2 hours to cool to what I’d call “marginally comfortable”. Rachel would not settle down until I gave her ice water, but eventually we all cooled off and slept enough to drive the final 3 hours home.

Glad to be home! And the trip was more than just the drive, of course. It was a wonderful family celebration of milestones and we have so many happy memories and pictures.

With this new, more comfortable plan of action for traveling these familiar 500 miles, perhaps we can visit our SoCal family more often this summer.

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