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Traveling with Two: 3 Bad Decisions and Counting

Recently, our family welcomed Isaac into our wonderful world of wacky, and I suddenly discovered I was a mother of two. This raw fact shakes me to my very core.


Thankfully, my mother, an experienced mother of two, offered to come stay with me during my recovery and to help out with the kids. That. Was. Awesome.

However, after three glorious weeks, it was time for her to return to her home. Ella, nor I, was taking it well.

“No problem,” I said. “I understand you have to leave. I’ll just come with you!”

And so I did.

My mother and I road tripped it the six hours to Kentucky in merely eight hours. Everything was great. Billy would drive up later in the week to retrieve us.

It was then that I realized there was no way home except driving back. Yes. Billy and I would share our first minutes as solo parents, without a professional in sight, on a family road trip. Bad decision #1.

However, Ella ventured out on fourteen flights in her first year of life, covering five states and three other countries. Why wouldn’t we expose dear Isaac to the same lifestyle of travel foolishness? Besides, if my mom and I could handle it, surely Billy and I could. Right? No, seriously... right?

Let’s just say… it could have gone better.

In this photo below, we are parked in an Arby’s parking lot. Billy is inexplicably barefoot, and Ella is covered from head to fingertip in Cheeto dust.

Shortly after this photo was snapped, I was dragging Cheeto chica across said parking lot, where she decided to go limp and eventually, lay spread eagle in a handicapped parking space.

Inside the bathroom, she sobbed while I scrubbed the orange of her skin. An stranger tried to distract her by telling her how pretty she was and how awesome her shoes were. Ella did not react as desired. (She responded how I wanted to – deadpan look, begging the question “What on earth?”)

There was one of those moments as we tried to get everyone buckled in and ready to go that both kids were screaming wildly. Billy and I could not stop laughing. I think that’s the first sign of going crazy…

Also crazy… we had spontaneously decided to leave in the late afternoon rather than the next morning as planned. Bad decision #2.

We were two severely sleep-deprived drivers, each seeking to convince the other that we were more tired and should not have to drive. Of course, I lost that bet as Billy basically threatened to kill us with his eyes closed.

He quickly pulled over at the next exit. Bad decision #3.

Nothing scares these two city kids more than a rural exit on I-75 with boarded up gas stations, a string of motels (you know… where every room has an external door) and creepy, gaunt people watching us and pointing. We’ve never switched places, changed diapers and fed small mouths so quickly.

I soon learned driving was the lesser of two evils as Billy ended up in the back seat of our Honda Fit, smashed between an infant car seat and another occupied by a tired toddler. She had never traveled long distances in her booster before and quickly realized it is not as easy to fall asleep in an upright position. She shared with us her displeasure.

We rolled into town near midnight with a toddler who’d fallen asleep folded in half only about fifteen minutes prior. I’ve never been so happy to see our home.

Now the only advice I can offer for traveling with two children is: Don’t do it!  

But, of course, that’s easier said than done. And now that we’ve applied for Isaac’s passport, the world is our oyster!

Do you travel much as a family or have memories of childhood family trips? What are your best/worst ones? And what are your tips for surviving?

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8 comments

  1. That top picture is an adorable picture of my niece and nephew though!!!

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  2. thanks for sharing! Took a road trip to South Dakota from California. We were in the middle of moving our house. My sister brought a huge box of books to put in the minivan. I tripped over it the whole trip. Did she read a single book?No!

    we traveled a lot up the west coast, back and forth from Bay Area California to Portland Oregon. My parents would leave early hours in the morning. We would be awake and excited, but then sleep in the afternoon. We'd wake up for food. Sleep some more. Then we'd be there in time for dinner, fully awake and refreshed to play with cousins while my parents went to bed early!

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  3. Thanks, Mary! And thanks for that story, Beth. I love the detail of tripping over a box of never-read books. Hey, you never know which book you'll be in the mood for.... Best to pack a lot! :)

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  4. This gives me very little hope for the near future, Sarah. It was funny to read though!

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    1. Hahaha. Don't worry. It was also pretty funny to live through, too! ;) And besides, most folks probably have it more together than we do!

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  5. Oh goodness, you are braver than me!

    I would have probably been covered in Cheeto dust by the end of this too. I eat when I'm stressed :)

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    1. Hahaha! Yes, I may have left out who else was covered in Cheeto dust.... :)

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