A couple of months ago, I experienced another proud mother and daughter moment with my little toddler. I have always been so proud of her but this one took my “proud mama feels” to another level. I took her out on her first event long haul road trip!
Yeah you’re probably thinking, hey most kids have done this already and that a road trip is so common. Well, NO.
It was NOT a one-hour road trip to Tagaytay (We’ve already done that several times)… It was NOT a three-hour road trip to a beach in Batangas (done that too)… It was NOT a five-hour road trip to Baguio… This two-year-old tot traveled ELEVEN HOURS to Albay, Bicol via land, ladies and gents. Now THAT is what you call a real road trip!
It was another milestone unlocked and I could not be happier with how it turned out!
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Okay, let me start by saying that everyone was simply NOT looking forward to this trip. It was the kind of trip that you wish you didn’t have to take. It’s been 14 years since I visited my grandparents’ hometown in Albay. I used to visit them every summer when I was a kid and they still had businesses there. But after high school we stopped visiting. They already started staying in Manila most of the time, though their ancestral house is still there.
After 14 long years and my daughter’s first time… All because of one very sad circumstance… My grandfather passed away at 90 years old and we had to pay our respects.
So you see, it was not just about the eleven leg cramping, butt-blue-ing hours you have to spend in the car, there wasn’t even any fun and excitement in it because we’ll be leaving with heavy hearts! 🙁 Poor Bubba.
As a mom, I tried my best not to let these factors affect her. It did not stop me from preparing for this trip and making sure her first long drive would not turn into a nightmare. I was determined to make it a meaningful mother and daughter adventure.
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First thing’s first – the PACKING.
We were going to stay there for 7 days and you know what that means. That means a giant suitcase with everything in it! Yup, she had a suitcase all to herself which included:
- A dozen sets of clothes (both for warm and cold weather ‘cause weather in the Philippines is so unpredictable).
- Three sets of shoes and a pair of slippers
- Complete Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wash, baby wipes, lotion
- Sleeping gear like blankets, pillows and new sets of beddings.
- First Aid Kit with some allergy meds and Paracetamol just in case. Plus some BandAids, alcohol, mosquito repellents, and all the other “paranoid mom things” you can think of.
- Thermal bag with Feeding Paraphernalia, bottled water, milk, snacks, and other food items.
We were headed to a province and not an international destination with five star hotel facilities so I had to make sure I had everything we might need.
Did I miss anything? Let’s move on to the preps.
I left the car preparations with my dad. He was after all the expert and we brought his two-week-old Ford Everest so I felt confident and didn’t have to worry about car trouble or anything like that. But just to be sure, head over to a nearby gas station and have your tires and oil checked.
We packed everything at the back and boy that big trunk was almost full! Talk about heavy packing. We installed the car seat properly and made sure it was securely fastened. A CAR SEAT IS A MUST! You simply cannot, for the love of God, travel eleven hours in long winding roads and highland terrains without it. I placed a car shade on kiddo’s side of the window and some pillows and blanket. I also placed her two small bags with us at the second row. The first bag was her bag of toys and the second bag was for her snacks and water.
Make sure to double and triple check everything because it really sucks when you realize after X number of kilometres that you left something important behind.
THE TRIP ITSELF.
HERE IT GOES. I was nervous as hell, I tell you (pardon the language). But I was really scared for her and scared for myself. Even I, as an adult hated taking this long drive. What more a two-year-old??? Oh Lord.
Thankfully, the trip turned out fine. More than fine actually. We really enjoyed ourselves and thought it might one of the best experiences we’ve had despite the muscle aches and time consumed. But of course it involved a lot of patience, planning, and prayers. 🙂
I have learned quite a few things on this trip and let me share them with you.
FIVE USEFUL TIPS FOR TRAVELING ON A ROAD TRIP:
- Timing Matters
Leave early. We tried our best to leave at 5AM but we ended up leaving at 7AM but that’s okay because she wakes up at 9AM. This will buy you time. Eleven minus two, now you’ll have nine hours left to worry about. Then, stick to her usual schedule and routine. If it’s time for eating, feed her in the car or go on a stopover. If it’s time to nap, (WOOHOO!) put her to sleep in the afternoon and that’s a couple of hours taken away again!
- Comfort Is Key
Because of the grueling long hours, it is very important to keep your child comfortable. Make her wear her favorite comfy PJs; bring her favorite pillow and the softest blanket you an find. Bring her favorite things to make her feel at home. Car seats may be adjusted to a seating position and a sleeping position. So make sure she has proper posture on her seat and adjust accordingly when she needs to sleep or sit up. Also, no need to wear shoes the entire trip! She’s just a kid. Let her cute little feet rest.
- Strategic Snacks and Toys
Snacks are really helpful not just for their hunger pangs but for keeping them busy. Make sure to pack their favorites but also consider those that may be choking hazards especially since the vehicle is moving like popcorn, large unpeeled grapes, hard candy, nuts and chocolates, etc. Avoid messy food too so it’s not tedious to tidy up after. Make sure you have some cool water near you as well! Best to have a small, insulated bag or small cooler.
Toys are of course very entertaining for them so bring along their favorite ones. Bring medium to large sized toys to avoid having a hard time picking them up when they get dropped.
Don’t give them all their toys at the same time. Give them a toy every hour or only when they’re bored and asking for one. That way, you have a lot of “reserve” and more variety.
- Music and Entertainment are Your Tools of the Trade
So I had one rule about gadgets – break in case of emergency! No games and no watching of YouTube videos. Aside from this being very harmful to the eyes, and a possible source of headache, I really want to avoid screen time as much as possible. Except for music! My daughter LOVES music and she could listen to anything she liked thanks to the car’s awesome Bluetooth syncing! Thank goodness to Smart for my super fast LTE connection and my Spotify. Although, just to be sure, I saved her Disney and Pop Kids playlist offline because there are some super remote places with really zero signal. We sang Disney songs to our hearts’ content that day. 🙂
- Just Have Fun
Though the trip wasn’t really supposed to be “fun” because of my grandpa, kids won’t really understand the concept of mourning yet so we have to learn to compartmentalize. I had to pretend like we were going to a nice island at the beach and have loads of fun. We looked at plants and trees, amazing mountains and rice fields, and of course her favorite animals. That involved a lot of animal sounds too. Haha! 🙂
Apparently, the most important factor is YOU. Your mood will affect theirs so keep a happy disposition all the time. Create memories more than itineraries!
Additional Tip: You will have to take stopovers for peeing and eating (at least for drive thru) so make sure to take advantage of these stop overs by checking if you need more food/water and by making her walk around and stretch a bit.
I think I may have already pre-empted the wonderful outcome of our trip. IT WAS AMAZING! It was so remotely far from my imagined 11-hour nightmare. I forgot to mention that the original plan was for us to take a plane, which would take only 30 minutes. Instead, I wanted to keep my parents company and decided to take the land trip. It was a brave and good call. Sometimes, you just need to have more faith and believe in your child (and yourself). 🙂
Hey don’t be fooled, this trip was still very tiring! I had to get a back massage when we got back to Manila because your muscles would really ache. But seeing her enjoy the experience made it all worthwhile. My little girl was such a trooper! She enjoyed the scenery, did not throw any tantrums, and was behaved all throughout the trip. I AM SO PROUD AND GRATEFUL! I’m sure my grandpa would be too.
The memories we created during the trip will forever be cherished, the same as the memories of my grandpa.
[RIP Antonio Sarte April 1926-February 2017]