If you think traveling with another person is tricky, imagine traveling with 3 other adults and 3 children age 4.5 months, 18 months, and 5.5 years all packed in a mini-van.
That was us yesterday. Sure, we did not go very far: Grouse Mountain, one of the closest and biggest ski resorts in Vancouver only 25 minutes’ drive away. We had not been there before and needed to since the snow season is nearly over and our time here is almost up. And it is Grouse, THE peak of Vancouver, gotta go up there at least once! Another family we know here who are rather new in Vancouver and also from my hometown, Singapore, wanted to visit the mount, so it seemed logical to do a trip together. Because it was our first trip with another family, I was slightly anxious about how the day was going to eventuate. For starters, we didn’t have any real agenda. I would like to snowboard since I haven’t done it already here in Canada (what?!!!) (we snowshoed a couple months back at Mt Seymour but that was about it in terms of winter sports) but who will look after Benji if both Bry and I snowboarded? We couldn’t possibly place Benji in their care when they already have two kids to keep them occupied. Our friends don’t snowboard but would like to snowshoe: would I be able to do it with them and maybe sling Benji the entire snowshoe activity? What if I fall? What if Benji starts fussing throughout the day and screams the entire car ride? Will Bry get to snowboard? What are the other two kids going to do if they don’t snowshoe? Aagh.
But as the title already revealed: the day went better than fine; it was a success. Here are some of my observations from this successful trip and recommendations/things to remember for future travels with other families:
1) Have a loose agenda and be flexible: So I did not get to snowboard because I decided that, between Bry and me, Bry, a more seasoned snowboarder would have gotten way more out of snowboarding in one of Vancouver’s most popular ski resorts. Of course he did. Two hours of full-on snowboarding on slopes overlooking the Vancouver city on a Tuesday in spring was great for him, as far as I could tell. It also started snowing in the middle of his rides, sprinkling fresh powdery snow and maximizing his already enjoyable experience. Originally, my back up plan was to snowshoe, but because it was quite a slippery walk for me to get to the rental office with a baby carrier on, I did not feel safe and balanced enough to make it there without slipping and hurting myself so I bailed. But experiencing the snow fall on the mountains while gazing at the city from the peak with little Benji strapped on me was a beautiful enough experience. I had no complaints. I also got to hang out and watch my friends and their kids play in the snow which was incredibly enjoyable (they, too, did not rent snowshoes because they did not have appropriate waterproof footwear to begin with).
2) Be prepared to wait and give yourself lots of buffer time: God bless our friends who went with us who were soo patient to wait for Benji and me during nursing times. In return, we also hung out when they had to run around with their restless kids who insisted on looking at something different than what we adults agreed upon. At one point during the car ride, we had to pull over to stop for my friend’s daughter, who gets motion sickness easily, nearly threw up. Traveling with kids aint easy and we all need to remember that.
3) Pack snacks and remember to take them wherever you go: This will be more relevant to parents of older kids who are already on solids. My friend was armed with a variety of snacks for her kids during the car ride and when we were up in the mountains. I did a version of that, but forgot to take the snacks with us up, and resulted to purchasing some snacks for Bry and me (plus stealing some of theirs). Having said that, it is also important for nursing moms to be well fed and hydrated. Thankfully there was a cafe serving healthy snack options but it would have been so much easier had I remembered my bag of food! Adults will be fine if snacks are forgotten but little kids with their frontal lobes still developing have little control over inhibition and theory of mind, and will probably lose it and not be as forgiving gif they are not fed food the instant they want it.
4) Pack extra plastic bags and diapers: You really never know for how long you will be out and whether your kids are going to suddenly fall ill or be extra fussy with the slightest wet diaper. Plastic bags take up little space in your bag so carry them all if you can! LIke I mentioned earlier, my friend’s daughter nearly threw up in the car and while she had a bag prepared, she thought it had some holes and therefore needed another bag for buffer. As for me, Benji did some explosive poops up in the mountains (thinner air? Shrugs) and soiled his clothes, and therefore needed more bags than usual.
5) Bring along toys/entertainment for the car ride: The iPhone is a lifesaver for many parents of kids all ages. When the kids were getting restless in the car, my friends whipped out their iPhones – one for each child – and put on songs and cartoons for them. I did not have to use mine on Benji this trip, but when we drove around Seattle, I had my iPhone out as well to entertain him. With Benji en route home from Grouse, we discovered his new fascination with the noise made from shaking a bag of chips. It was a lifesaver because he was sufficiently entertained throughout the ride despite his exhaustion from the day (it was also slightly past his bedtime by then).
At the end of the day, Bry got to snowboard for a full 2 hours, I got to play a bit in the snow with Benji, my friends’ kids got to make little snowmen, snow angels, and hang out in the snow. My friends also got to enjoy their kids’ excitement from playing in the snow, which was fun enough for cityfolk like us who grew up in tropical climates.
Have you taken road trips with other families? DO you have any other suggestions for dealing with these travels?