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Thread: Are We There Yet: Children and Travel

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Are We There Yet: Children and Travel

    Are we there yet? This near-universal expression of youthful impatience was uttered by my 3 y.o. recently for the very first time. Ahh, brings back fond childhood memories of long automobile trips playing 'war' or 'mom he's on MY side' in the back seat with my brother whiling away the hours of monotony one experiences driving through central Indiana (or other similarly dull locations).

    I understand nowadays most minivans (which we don't own and have no plans to buy) come equipped with dvd/vhs players to entertain the young'uns on long trips. I fully understand the expedient but it seems a shame in one sense. All those long hours of staring out the window at the passing scenery (and not the video screen) resulted in a more comprehensive appreciation of the climate and surrounding environs. I mean when you stare out the window for 10 straight hours and see nothing but plains or woodlands you begin to understand the concept of scale more deeply. Still, even we couldn't silently contemplate the zen-like flat, placid repetitiveness surrounding Terre Haute or Moline all day long and eventually resorted to games like I-spy or the license plate game when we travelled.

    How did you entertain or amuse yourself on long trips as a youth? Were you all about the destination back then, or was there any aspect of car travel you actually enjoyed (or at least fondly remember? How do you keep your kids occupied now?


  2. #2
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Growing up our favorite game was the license plate game. Being a geography dork, it was a huge deal to find a license plate from a state across the country. When we got a bit older the family would like to play 20 questions.

    My parents were pretty smart, and oftentimes would travel at night to avoid having to deal with cranky kids. Now that I am grown-up I love traveling by car. If I have the time I would rather go someplace via car than airplane.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I read books. Watched the passing scenery. Played games with ym little brother. We never did the license plate game or I-spy contests.

    My son has my portable DVD player on trips. My wife hates it. But it saves me an endless barrage of "Papa, I have a question" inquiries.

    When my son was in diapers traveling was easy. He slept most of the time if you didn't talk. And of course bathroom breaks were not necessary. That first trip after he was potty-trained was grueling. We had to stop every 20 minutes. But I did get to introduce him to a male rite of passage - peeing outside. Much later I taught him how to poop in the woods. Papa's job is done. He is good until he is a teenager.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  4. #4
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    R.T. has always been a good traveler. She's usually sleeps in the car and more recently entertains herself with the iPod Touch. When she's awake she's pretty handy with a map and co-pilots for me. I was a reader and puzzle freak when I was little, we didn't really do road trips since my mom didn't like driving much in familiar places.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    When my son was in diapers traveling was easy. He slept most of the time if you didn't talk. And of course bathroom breaks were not necessary. That first trip after he was potty-trained was grueling. We had to stop every 20 minutes. But I did get to introduce him to a male rite of passage - peeing outside. Much later I taught him how to poop in the woods. Papa's job is done. He is good until he is a teenager.
    Imagine 2.5 yo triplets on a road trip, my friends would have no problem setting out one of the jr's to whiz in the bushes while in the drive thru line.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    All my trips when I was little included my sister (2 yrs younger than I), and both parents. So, there was always someone to play with, talk to, intervene when we fought.

    Tomorrow morning, bright and early, my daughter (5 yrs old) and I are heading up to my sisters in Marquette. This, my friends, is a 9 hour drive. Just the two of us. Should be interesting.

    We've done it before but I've usually had someone in the car. She usually does pretty good. We have our routine; stop in Clare and go the bathroom, stop in Gaylord for lunch, stop in St. Ignace for the bathroom. All you not from MI are clueless, but basically we stop every 2-3 hours. I bring along books, her Leapster video game, some toys, the dvd player, snacks, etc. She'll likely ask me (while I'm driving) to hand her toys, books, etc. She'll want to read the map and ask 40 times where we are at. Which, dude, if she loves maps that is GREAT with me She'll likely take a nap.

    As I side note, I am so excited to get the heck out of dodge for a long weekend and see my family. But, I *hate* driving across the Mackinac Bridge. Absolutely hate it. I'll ride over it fine, but have only driven over once and that was the summer. Hoping the weather is clear or else I'm white knuckeling it at 10mph. Crap, I'll probably be doing that anyway...

    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    All those long hours of staring out the window at the passing scenery (and not the video screen) resulted in a more comprehensive appreciation of the climate and surrounding environs. I mean when you stare out the window for 10 straight hours and see nothing but plains or woodlands you begin to understand the concept of scale more deeply.
    Blah to that. Try doing it by yourself. See above.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    2 older brothers and parents in the station wagon

    We mostly played the license plate game, cow count, sign alphabet, i-spy and such plus we had our books.

    We traveled 12 hours every Thanksgiving to visit relatives. I still remembering when I was young wondering why dad would come home from work at 5 pack the car, eat dinner, and watch some TV. Then about 8 or 9 pm, he'd get up and say "let's head out." Why weren't we leaving right away? I wanted to go see my cousins. Well DUH!, a few years later my mom told me we left that late so my brothers and I would sleep most of the trip. We would arrive Thanksgiving morning at my grandmothers house and dad would go to the back bedroom and sleep until lunch.

    ***
    Today, we have the one child and we spend time playing alot of the same games, plus Wee P has a leapster and on trips over 5 hours we have a portable dvd player as well.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  8. #8
    The good side of traveling with kids:
    Coming home from Orange Beach,at the end of a 600-mile road trip, I got passed by an Audi doing about 90mph. Figuring I was an easier mark, a LouMetro copper pulled me over. After the rigamarole, he returned to my vehicle and my son was in absolute meltdown tears. The cop looks at him, smirks, and asks why he's crying. Suppressing the urge to say 'You, assmunch' I explain we've been on the road all day, he's tired, he doesn't want dad to get in trouble, yadda. After all that he let me off with a warning.

    The bad side:
    We were exactly 11 miles into our trip to OB, AL when my kids asked if we were there yet. How my wife and I avoided being charged with infanticide over the next 11 hours is still a wonder to me to this day.

    ++
    The daily commute to and from daycare for my Aspergian son was literally hell on wheels. He was acutely aware of his surroundings and woe to me (or anyone with us) if we chose a different route. This was before we had his diagnosis, so we were perplexed by the behavior. At least once a week, I'd purposefully take a different route home and he would just ... howl. Age has certainly relaxed his rigidity, but if I turn a different way on the trip home from school, he's sure to immediately ask where we are going...
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Count me in as another person who enjoyed the license plate game as a kid -- gee, a bunch of planners, what a surprise.

    off-topic:
    I saw my first Russian license plate when I was in Amsterdam last week. That would have scored some big points!

    back on-topic:
    When we weren't bickering, my older sister and I used to play silly games (e.g., pretending we were Max and 99), sing along to the radio, read, or sleep. My husband was one of 3 children. He reports that the look from his dad was enough to keep all of them from misbehaving on their frequent summer road trips.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    We played "license plates", "first person to call and count various species and colors of domesticated animals", "name the roadkill", "guess the car make/model/year", and our favorite "beat the crap out of each other and get brother blamed for it."

    Oh, and there was the always exhilarating "Dad, Wake Up! We're going to DIE!"
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Our two are opposites when it comes to car rides. Our little girl is content to lay down on the back seet and sleep or look out the window. Our boy thinks car rides are some knd of torture. He may be alright at first, but steadily gets worse as the trip goes on. His tactics:

    1) passive resistence - this is a tactic he adopted on a trip to Montana. He would sit on the ground and refuse to get in the car, making it as difficult as possible to pick him up to put him in.

    2) prison bars - we have a metal separator between the front seats and the back of the car. He will eventually get upset and try to pull it down so that he can get up front with us. He has succeeded.

    3) crying and yelling - this is when it gets really bad. He is not one to bark (excepting when there is a squirrel to be chased) but when he has had enough of a car ride he will let us know. He will start whining and yipping. Sometimes if this goes on long enough our girl will join in - not with a bark, but with a beautiful, low "Ooooo" that must be a legacy of her husky heritage. Soon I am also barking and howling, and Mrs Cardinal is ready to jump out of the moving car.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    ...Tomorrow morning, bright and early, my daughter (5 yrs old) and I are heading up to my sisters in Marquette. This, my friends, is a 9 hour drive. Just the two of us. Should be interesting.

    We've done it before but I've usually had someone in the car. She usually does pretty good. We have our routine; stop in Clare and go the bathroom, stop in Gaylord for lunch...
    where you'll check out Tia Veloise's stealth cell tower out front of the Wal-Mart. It's a flagpole. FUN zoning hearings on that one.
    ...stop in St. Ignace for the bathroom. All you not from MI are clueless, but basically we stop every 2-3 hours. I bring along books, her Leapster video game, some toys, the dvd player, snacks, etc. She'll likely ask me (while I'm driving) to hand her toys, books, etc. She'll want to read the map and ask 40 times where we are at. Which, dude, if she loves maps that is GREAT with me She'll likely take a nap.

    As I side note, I am so excited to get the heck out of dodge for a long weekend and see my family. But, I *hate* driving across the Mackinac Bridge. Absolutely hate it. I'll ride over it fine, but have only driven over once and that was the summer. Hoping the weather is clear or else I'm white knuckeling it at 10mph. Crap, I'll probably be doing that anyway...
    You know about the bridge driving service, right? I believe it is free. (If it'll help, check out my bridge walk video on YouTube.)

    I know your route like the back of my hand.

    ETA: What if I am not comfortable about driving across the bridge?

    The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a "Drivers Assistance Program" that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, just ask a fare collector for assistance. There is no additional fee for this service.
    Last edited by Veloise; 26 Feb 2009 at 2:39 PM.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    . . . Our boy thinks car rides are some knd of torture. He may be alright at first, but steadily gets worse as the trip goes on. His tactics:

    1) passive resistence - this is a tactic he adopted on a trip to Montana. He would sit on the ground and refuse to get in the car, making it as difficult as possible to pick him up to put him in.
    I remember that move. What really amazes me about that move is that a kid magically transforms into a being with the atomic weight of lead.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We took some really long car trips when I was a kid. Like up to Montreal for Expo '67, or around the U.S. (Fl to Maine, west to Washington state, south to LA, back to FL) for 6 long weeks. Actually, I believe we drove thru RJ's small hometown on that trip. Since there were 3 of us, we had someone else to play games with. Sign alphabet, travel bingo, etc. I read a lot and did crossword puzzles. And always got possession of the AAA Triptik (Mom hated maps and my sister and brother weren't interested). And Dad would always stop if he saw something he thought was interesting, so we got to run around a lot. We usually stopped for the day at 3 or 4 so we could hit the motel pool before dinner.

    I only have the one kid, so he's always gotten bored driving any distances. When he was little, we'd sing along to kids' music tapes or he would look at picture books. Then he got into license plates and playing his GameBoy, and now he sleeps or watches movies on the portable DVD. He's almost 16 and hasn't even gotten his learner's permit yet, or I'd have him driving part of the way!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Captain Trips

    Never had much of a problem with my son, on long trips. As you should know, I am a regular traveler in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so I know all the good places to stop, the cool side trips, things kids enjoy (to break up that monotony). The person who travels with me who hates to travel is......Katie.

    She brings along the portable DVD player and watches endless time-killing episodes of Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, or (her newest fave) Big Bang Theory. She also watches movies.

    Note: If I motor out of Swanton, OH, at 5:00 PM on a Friday, I won't be on the world's greatest bridge (The Mackinac Bridge) until about 11:30 PM. Once across, my heartbeat slows, my legs relax, and utopia grabs hold.

    Bear

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