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Incredibly True Traveling Stories: a Q & A with Moms

Last week, our family had several days with no plans.  Pre-school was out due to fall break.  Playgroup fell through.  By Friday, the kids & I were going a bit crazy.  So I did what I don’t normally do: I packed them up for an outing, just the 3 of us.  After about 90 minutes, we were back home, and I said, “That’s why I don’t go out alone with the kids.”  At the time, I felt totally justified in this.  I mean, come on: my kids are 2 & 1.  The park is a big place, the slides are fast & scary, the threat of injuries & falls is ever-present.  I was exhausted chasing them both around.  My daughter walked right into my son’s moving swing and got cold-cocked in the face.  Cue the crying in pain.  Not ten minutes later, she had a major face-plant on the ground when trying to climb into her carseat (big ole bump & bruise to prove it).  More distress followed.  To cheer Lucy up, I took them to the library for fall craft day “for a quick minute”.  It was fun, but difficult, as many of you can attest, to help Lucy use a glue stick with my squirmy son on my lap.  (I gave him what I hope was a non-toxic marker and let him go to town on his hands.)

But after hearing what some of my friends have been up to lately (or reading their Facebook statuses, rather), I realized I am pretty much a lazy wuss.

Enter Sharon, Jenny, and Amy, my three new heroes.  Sharon lives in Israel with her family as missionaries, and she came back to the States for an extended visit while hubby remains overseas in seminary.  Jenny is traveling from San Antonio to Pittsburgh over the course of two weeks, visiting friends, with her two children in tow.  Oh, and she’s pregnant.  Amy is headed to Arizona with her family for a job relocation.  Her fourth child was born just months ago.  When they commented on their amazing itineraries, I had to ask them a few things… just in case I’m ever daring enough to venture out with my children past a five-mile radius.

Let’s start with the basic details: how many kids do you have, what are their ages, and were you traveling with your spouse? 

Sharon: I have two children, ages 4 and 1.  Although we’ve done this flight many times, this was the first one without hubby along to help.  


Jenny: I have two kids, 4 and 1, and one on the way.  No, my husband is not traveling with us on the way up; he’ll actually meet us in eastern PA (where he’s traveling solo for work) and drive home with us.


Amy: I have four children, ages 6, 4, 2 1/2 and 3 months!  Yes, I was with my husband!  (I tried a trip once with the 3 kids while I was pregnant – it was a nightmare!)


How far did you travel/are you traveling? 

Sharon: We traveled over seven THOUSAND miles!

Jenny: We will have driven over 1,700 miles when we meet up with my husband and head back home.

Amy: We are in the middle of driving from Virginia to Arizona (it’s about four days). [Editor's note: Virginia to Arizona is roughly 2,185 miles.]

What was/were the primary mode(s) of transportation?

Sharon: We flew from Israel to Houston (with a stopover in Germany), then drove from Houston to San AntonioLufthansa is awesome by the way; best airline coffee I’ve ever had! 

Jenny: 2001 Honda Odyssey!

Amy: All 6 of us are riding in the comfort of our 2001 Mazda MPV (I’m pretty sure it’s the smallest mini-van out there). 

What were your worries going into this time of travel?  What steps did you take to alleviate your anxiety?

Sharon: My primary concern was keeping the kids occupied on the longer flight (10 1/2 hours in an airplane is a long time!).  I was also worried about my son wandering off in the airport (which he has done before).  So, I drilled into my son the importance of staying next to mommy and helping me take care of his baby sister.  He did beautifully!  And I tried to pack a lot of things to keep the kids entertained.  The airlines provided a pack of cards for my son, so we got to play MANY games of Go Fish.  The baby was a little bit harder.  She basically took a lot of cat naps, and I would take her to the back of the plane to crawl around when she got bored in her seat. 

Jenny: Mostly I was concerned about the kids’ antsiness and impatience during the longer stretches in the car.  So I just really made sure that we had a variety of activities to keep them busy.  We brought crayons, coloring books, dolls, books, cds, and toys.  And when all of that didn’t work, it was time to use the dvd player (and I didn’t feel one bit guilty!).  I also made sure I listened to them, and when it seemed like things were getting to be too much, we took breaks to run around and play. 

Amy: One of my biggest worries was having to travel with sick kids.  That was one reason why my last trip with the kids alone went so badly.  Two weeks before leaving, I made everyone wash their hands 50 times a day, take their vitamins, I prayed daily about it, and I wouldn’t let anyone who seemed sick near them!  Two days before we left, my 4-year old ended up with a fever and a sore throat.  Ugh!  We hit the road while “praying without ceasing” for our sick, whiny little girl.  A few hours into the trip, she perked up and was fine!  Praise God! 

Any close calls or major stress-filled moments?

Sharon: Just exhaustion.  I probably slept about two hours during a 24-hour period.  Oh, and we almost missed our plane in Germany!  Fortunately, that flight was delayed, so we made it without a problem. 

Jenny: It’s always hard to mediate a fight or change a dvd while driving, so there were a few near-misses where I had to swerve back into my own lane! :)

Amy: None whatsoever, unless you count getting stuck in traffic for 30 minutes in Jackson, MS, while having to pee!  I was seriously thinking about grabbing a diaper! 

What got you through the journey?

Sharon: Knowing that it was temporary. 

Jenny: Knowing that at the end of the trip, I get to see my best friends.

Amy: God did. :)   Admittedly, we did use the dvd player a few times.  We also had little gifts from a friend to open throughout the day.  Each gift was a little activity the kids could do to occupy them for a short time.  I also brought my manual breast pump so I could bottle-feed the baby in the car.  That way we only had to stop for food and potty breaks. 

Would you do it again?

Sharon: Well, I kind of need to, since I’ll be flying home with them in December.  But, after that… I’m waiting until they’re a little bit older! 

Jenny:  I’m only halfway through, but it’s definitely been worth it.  So that’s a yes.

Amy: Umm, not unless I had to!  It’s tough, but we do bond as a family and it’s great seeing the sights of our great country as we drive to our new home.  Maybe we’ll do it again after we buy our RV - ha ha! 


So I’ll officially shut up now about how it’s so much work to take the kids to the park or store by myself.  ;)  

What are your travel stories?  How have you survived long-distance flights or road trips with young children?  Is the Mazda MPV the smallest mini-van out there?

1 Response to Incredibly True Traveling Stories: a Q & A with Moms

  • Comment by Amelia
    October 17, 2008 @ 8:13 am

    When we made the move from TX to PA we had a large basket of books in between the boys’ car seats. And we let them stuff their backpacks full of whatever toys they wanted to bring on the trip. My mom sent us off with some fun gift packages to open as we went along on the 3 day journey. the biggest hit were these magnetic puzzles that you used a fishing pole with a magnet on the end to pick up the puzzle pieces. They played with those for HOURS. And music was a big hit. We tried to play I-Spy or look for shapes in the clouds or find signs in a certain color. Anything to pass the time. And we prayed they would sleep a lot. That didn’t happen, unfortunately but we made it in one piece and we still love each other!

    We made stops when we needed to pee and run around. I was 7 months preggo at the time so I needed the breaks too. I had my hubby there so it made it a lot easier than doing it on my own but we had a great time and it was definitely a memory builder.

    I don’t look forward to going on outings with all 3 of mine in tow all the time either but it does get easier when the older ones are a little more independent. Even if your kids are well trained it is still more stress to care for more than one kid on outings.

    Dawn, when Ewan and Isaac were 2 and 1 I don’t think I went very many places “just for fun”–like the library! I never took them to the library until we moved here to PA because when they were 2 and 1 they wanted to run in two opposite directions and let’s face it, the library isn’t exactly conducive to loud running! I would have let one go to town with markers too! HA-HA! The only fun thing I did was play dates in the neighborhood and a mommy group at our church where our kids were in a nursery program at the same time. And when we went to the park (just me and the boys) we went to a very small one so that I could be nearby if need be. We would go to the bigger park with daddy around or with a few other adult friends with kids so the kids would herd together. Sometimes I would go play tennis with a friend and we would let our kids run around the court while we “played” tennis.

    Apparently I had a lot to say about that :)

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