Drive at night! Buy NoDoz! We make the 8 hour drive from our house to Hayden Lake, ID at least two times a year, and we always drive through the night. My tip is to leave around 4 or 5 pm, stop somewhere in the Gorge for exercise (This year we met up with our cousins who were heading back from their annual summer trip to Idaho and the Grandparents.) and something to eat, and then push all the way through to the end destination! Our kids sleep. This makes it a calm ride and somewhat relaxing, way more than if we were to drive through the day and have them get fussy and restless....plus our middle son wakes up like a beast from his car naps. It is better to have him conk out for the night and transport him to a nice, comfy bed for the wee morning hours.
We have been doing this trek for 10 plus years, six without kids. We always prefer the drive at night. There is not a lot of scenery on I-84, past the Gorge. Well, we do enjoy the various signs like Dufur and Biggs. But the real treat is our conversations together. We actually find that we get some quality time, and now that we have three young boys, that quality time is even more precious. So I really do enjoy it. Often we listen to a book on tape. Well, they used to be on tape, then CD, and now Ipod. There have been some pretty funny ones. The people who read those books are quite serious in their auditory dramatics. The love scenes always crack us up. It is hard to take a sultry, female voice very seriously as she describes rippling muscles. Since the invention of the Ipod our listening choices have gotten better, but back in the days when we had to choose from the local library section we heard a lot of bad romances and murder mysteries.
This last trip we got in to Idaho at about 1 in the morning, so my husband and I were able to get a few precious hours of sleep before waking up and being "great" interactive parents to our boys. I also am able to sleep a bit in the van, so I usually let my husband sleep in the next morning while I get breakfast going for our trio of hungry men.
I think travel with a 5 month baby is at its prime. He's still sleeping a lot, only being breast fed, doesn't crawl yet etc. So, he's fairly easy. We didn't have to pack him a lot of extras. He loves looking around and seeing things and people, so he loved our hikes and excursions. He did get a bit tired of the car seat, but then he'd just doze off. He's very compliant and has a good even personality. He's only 15 pounds, so not too bad to pack in and out of trails.
My other secret to long drives with small children....fruit snacks for the kids and sunflower seeds for the dad. I prefer a stash of chocolate or red vines. Oh, and the portable DVD player! This is a must. Don't let the kiddos know it is there until they are starting to get restless and trying desperately to fight off sleep, then whip it out, pop in Pixar Cars and they are instantly in a trance soon followed by sleep.
Well, that is how it works for us. My sister-in-law's kids do not do so well at night. I never quite believed her, thinking that all children would eventually get sleeping, but it is true. We drove her oldest children this last Christmas and they were impressive in their stamina to stay awake. If that were the case, I would just gut it through and drive when the sun is high.....or give them something special to make them sleepy, teehee.
My next entries:
1. Millie and Mudgy in Coeur d'Alene
2. Travels to Glacier, Things To Do On The Way There
3. The Best Way to See Glacier with Young Kids
4. 100 Wild Horse Stampede, The Unexpected Joys of Family Travel (AKA: I love Sherman Alexi)
5. Thoughts On Montana, Big Sky Country