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Experienced road-trippers: What's the best way to organise driving for seven hours with a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old?

(15 Posts)
Londonmamabychance Wed 23-Jan-19 20:41:05

Currently living in one Scandinavian country, and planning to travel to another to visit family. Finances are tight at the moment, but we have plenty of time. For that reason, driving there seems to be a good option - wouldn't be able to afford flying right now, but really want to visit family. Things are complicated a bit by only DH having a drivers license.

But struggling to find the best way to plan the trip, would love advice from anyone who has experience with similar trips. Was first of thinking to drive around 10pm, kids can fall asleep right away, I can (try to) sleep, DH can drive pretty much non-stop, we get there in perhaps only 6,30 hours due to little traffic, arrive around 51m, kids wake up for the day (with admittedly very little sleep, so if the fall asleep again, bonus, but if not, they're up), DH can rest and i'm on child duty for the morning.
Then I thought perhaps better to leave already at 6pm, kids fall asleep around 7pm, sleep through and we arrive at 1am in the morning, DH won't have become too tired to drive and the night is still young. BUT, the huge downfall of this plan is that I fear that the children will then wake up when we arrive, and then be hysterically running about for hours in the middle of the night, before crashing out again.
So then, my other idea is to make an experience out of the trip, accept it will take around 10 hours, leave at 7am, drive for two hours, stop for a bit, then drive for another 2 hours, stop for early lunch, then drive and hope the kids will nap, then stop again when they wake up, and then drive the remaining hour. Will probaby be a lot of complaining and screaming included in this option, but at least, when we arrive, we can have dinner there, and then go to bed at a normal hour...

What's your thoughts, any other options, I haven't considered?

OP’s posts: |
TheSandgroper Thu 24-Jan-19 15:05:05

I would prefer option no 2. The children can certainly be part of the early journey before falling asleep. However, I would do it on the proviso that the house you are going to is prepared to have bed/cot made up and the house quiet until you are inside, kids in bed and still asleep. Proper greetings etc can wait. If you think the house will be boisterous, eager to say hello, meet the children etc, then I think you had best make your plans to suit.

Another option would be to pack the car in the evening, early to bed for everyone and set the alarm for 3. In the car for 3.30 (the kids shouldn't wake) and go. Plan a stop somewhere for normal wake up time for nappies, breakfast, run around, rearrange the car. Hopefully you can be where you need to be by 12 so ready for lunches etc.

I would certainly inspect the route on viamichelin beforehand so you know where you might be stopping, both planned and unplanned, and what services are available.
Safe driving.

TchoupiEtDoudou Thu 24-Jan-19 15:13:48

It depends a bit on your DC. One of mine almost never sleeps in the car - no matter time or tiredness. The first time he ever slept in the car was at age 5!!!

Every year we have a 7 hour car journey to go on holiday (7 hours if no stops). We are tied into arriving around 4pm for the holiday cottage. But there is a lot of traffic on the road so with stops and traffic jams it takes us roughly 10 hours.

We usually leave around 6.30-7am and stop every 2-3 hours. We don't stop for long, just a run around for the boys, toilet break for everyone and some food. Often our lunch break is only 20 minutes, so DH can eat. Then me and the boys carry on eating sandwiches etc. in the car.

By arriving around 4/5pm the boys can then run around in the garden whilst I unpack/poor DH does a supermarket shop, then they're in bed like usual around 8pm and sleep fine.

ForeverBubblegum Thu 24-Jan-19 15:52:44

We've done something similar to plan 1, and it worked quite well. But for your DH to be fit to drive all night you will need to take the kids out the day before you leave so he can sleep uninterrupted before you set off. I also wouldn't count on getting much sleep in the car, so the first day will probably be a write off as you take turns napping.

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Thu 24-Jan-19 18:02:26

We have attempted every combination with our two toddlers. You need to factor in travel sickness, pooping, loo breaks, food stops etc. For a driver, a 7 hr drive in the dark is hard on the eyes so plan to stop more.

Frankly I would do it during the day. Leaving say 8 am with probably 2 stops.

caledonianclown Thu 24-Jan-19 18:08:47

We regularly drive from Kent to Scotland and our best journeys have always been leaving at around 7pm with kids on pjs, they fall asleep in the car, we arrive around 2am and transfer sleeping kids into pre made up beds. We then get a bit of sleep before they are up for the day at 6.30/7am. Other advantage is we are going to family so they can take kids the next day so DH and I can have a lie in or nap later on to catch up on sleep.

But this only works if the kids will sleep in the car and are easily transferred at the other end without getting too woken up.

Londonmamabychance Thu 24-Jan-19 18:10:06

Thank you so much for your advice. It has made me think about how my youngest, 2, isn't a great sleeper, and he may not sleep through in the car. So perhaps going during the day with some stops is the better option after all.

OP’s posts: |
Londonmamabychance Thu 24-Jan-19 18:12:24

@caledonian, that's he thing, family we are seeing can't really look after kids in their own. So perhaps the tiredness of that first day makes the night time driving option not that great for us

OP’s posts: |
WhatHaveIFound Thu 24-Jan-19 18:15:21

I'd go for option 2 because i know that would suit my DC best. I think it would be exhausting for your DH to start that long a drive at 10pm as presumably he wouldn't be able to have any sleep during the day you start the journey.

How would your DC feel about having 'another 2 hours' in the car each time they had to get back in? 2 year olds can be quite resistant to being strapped back into a car seat in my experience!

greenelephantscarf Thu 24-Jan-19 18:18:06

depends on dc
mine don't sleep well in the car, apart from napping.
I would therefore drive during daytime. break every 2 hours. visit something on the way. a mini zoo, a castle. take a skipping rope.

tbh I would calculate if flying would really be more expensive than flying. considering fuel, tyres, insurance etc...

Mrscog Thu 24-Jan-19 19:58:06

I would do third option - every 2 hours is quite frequent, you would probably get away with 1 stop after 3 hours and then a mini stop towards the end.

You would need to prepare things to keep them interested every hour or so. Have a 'surprise bag' with surprises in it wrapped up - snacks, books, toys etc. Also an ipad loaded with some TV they will both watch - although hold out on this as long as possible.

Tuesdaynightname Thu 24-Jan-19 20:05:11

We've tried all of your options over the years. A lot depends on the traffic, and whether there is anyone decent to stop on route.

Driving through the night is really knackering. I start hallucinating with tiredness at around 2am, so we avoid doing that. Starting off at 6pm is better, provided you're not dealing with rush hour traffic.

Current favourite is to pack the car the night before, and set off at 6ish in the morning. Stop for breakfast at 8am, coffee at 11am, lunch at 1pm'll be there early afternoon.

AveEldon Thu 24-Jan-19 20:14:21

Where are your likely traffic hold ups?
I would probably leave earlier at 4pm and aim to get the whole drive done before midnight

Funf Thu 14-Feb-19 12:31:42

Find kids play places on the way and lots of stops unless they are asleep

ApolloandDaphne Thu 14-Feb-19 12:44:02

We used to drive from Scotland to Cambridge a lot when our were small. We always set off early evening, factored in a stop for tea then motored on arriving midnight/1am-ish. We never had an issue getting them to bed when we arrived.

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