Friday, June 24, 2011

Traveling With A Toddler

I have introduced a poll to my blog, and it may come and go based on whether or not there are life-altering decisions to be made; however, for this post, I do find it useful and would appreciate any feedback you more experienced parents may have to offer.

We have a family trip coming up in July.  We are scheduled to go to a family get together somewhere in one of the Carolinas, and we are debating whether to drive or fly.  We have a toddler.  You can see how this is going to suck.  What I often do in situations like this, where I have two choices that both suck but I have to choose one, is think about the pros and cons to find the lesser of two evils.

Travel Time by Car - 9 hours plus stops.
Travel Time by Air - Roughly 8 hours, but split up in increments of 1 hour drive to the airport, 1 hour checking in and getting through security/waiting for boarding, 2 hours of total plane time from boarding to unboarding (families with kids board first and wait for everyone else), 30 minutes to get our bag, 30 minutes to rent a car, 30 minutes to stop for food, and 2 1/2 hours of driving in a rental car to our destination.

If we decide to go by car, we can leave very early, and our daughter will most likely fall asleep and wake up somewhere in Virginia, I mean, still in our car, but travelling through Virginia.  If she has to wake up in any state, Virginia is the best because Virginia is for lovers, and I am trying to raise a lover, not a fighter.  If she gets whiny (and I should say "when" not "if"), we can stop anywhere we want at our own free will.  If this location happens to be Dinosaur Land, then I'm okay with that.  We can pack our own food in a cooler, or we can stop and get some yummy fast food.  We do not have to pay for overpriced airport food or survive for several hours on peanuts alone.  If we drive, we do not have to rent a car.  If we drive, we will not be subjected to a "Freedom Pat" by airport security.  If we drive, we can listen to whatever music we like.  And finally, the biggest pro for driving is that we are travelling ALONE.  We don't have to be "that" family whose kid is loud and crying.  On the negative side, gas is expensive, although given today's release of strategic oil reserves, prices may be on their way down.  We could also drive the gas thrifty Focus instead of the Jeep to save more money, but that would mean we would have less space.  Also, nine hours is a long time to be in a car with anyone, let alone a toddler.  We could break down, although both of our cars are pretty new and in good shape.  Is anyone still reading?

If we fly, we will still leave early to get to the airport.  Someone will most likely drive us, so I suppose we could nap in the car on the way there, and naps always fall under the "pro" category.  Nice people give us peanuts and beverages while we are in the air.  We would get to rent a car; therefore, no risk would be assumed by our own vehicles.  We do have a way to get cheaper than average tickets due to a family connection.  Besides the obvious "cons" that are opposites of the "pros" for driving, we would also have to feed my daughter breakfast on the road or in the terminal.  That's not cool.  Also, we will most likely be subjected to aforementioned "Freedom Pat" since TSA is targeting toddlers now.

I do think that flying has benefits, especially if you hate whining children in cars for long periods of time, but I can't imagine that we have a family trip where we don't get to drive past Dinosaur Land.  I think car time builds character, and I like having control over the situation.  But then again, I have never done a long distance trip with a toddler.  Can anyone give me some help out there?  It seems obvious to me, but maybe you have had experiences that prove the flying is the better choice.  Please let me know!


  1. Matt - Both are hard, but speaking from experience with flying with a infant before they can even make their wants known, it's actually harder to fly. It's alot of load and unload, so it's harder on the parents. Plus you can't stop when you need to, if you need to. Car trips can be less painful if you plan the route ahead for rest stops. Plan for the extra time needed for those, bring the toys, the snacks, allow for the quiet time - and if you can spring for it, the portable dvd player. One that plays cds also and has headphone jacks, and can mount - that's a lifesaver sometimes. We have to drive to MA in August and I think that will get us more drive thru time then anything!

  2. Thanks for the advice! I think I still have your house key from Nightwatch somewhere... random.

    Any other parents have some good advice?



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