Saturday, April 5, 2014

travel with littles: "surviving"

Our family spends a lot of time on the road. Every time we need vaccinations, chickens, airport, immigration, embassy, specialized medical attention and anything else found only in the capital, we embark on an 800 kilometer journey from our home to Lusaka. Little kids cry, and furthermore, land rovers are not airbuses, which means the trip is bumpy, crowded and loud. Since Bronwyn was born, we’ve made that 10-12 hour one-way trek over 30 times. She just turned two. I think this qualifies as insanity.

But, we can attest that there is, at the very least, a method to our madness. We’ve developed our own coping mechanisms for surviving heinously long car trips with our beloved cherub who for the life of her cannot appreciate the phrase, “just a few more minutes, hunny.”

For all those who dread traveling with the littles, we would like to share with you here some of our vehicular coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, many of these are illegal in developed countries… with good reason. We are not likely to be poster children for the National Highway Traffic Safety Association unless we are modeling what NOT to do inside a vehicle. But lest you judge, please be reminded of the last time you were stuck in a car with a screaming child for anything more than two hours… and then think about the fact that we’ve added up more than THREE HUNDRED HOURS with darling daughter on these Fimpulu-Lusaka trips alone. Thankfully all of our vehicular shenanigans are legal here, and probably the only reason why we still have hair on our heads.
And besides, when you are navigating roads like this… 

sand road

notice the white knuckle death grip

this is a legit photo of an actual sign. I did not source this pic on photo bucket,

the goal is to not fall off the sand bags between the line of sticks

... bending the rules seems completely acceptable. (please note the lack of other vehicles in all of these pictures, and breathe easier as you peruse the following.)


Time on moms lap can rejuvenate even the most frazzled.

Schedule travel times to maximize napes in the car.

Let the babe drive if things are slow and no other vehicles are around.

It's not only dogs that like to feel the wind flowing through their hair.

Playing "count the trees" or "find a monkey" can help while away the hours.

Choose carseat positions that facilitate good views.

Make the back seat her "domain" with toys, snacks and moms cell phone with which to call Grandma in case of emotional meltdown.

When necessary, particularly when its a safety issue, cry it out IS an option.
(she has lived to tell about it, and we don't feel "unattached" because of this)

Food. Lots and lots of all kinds of kid-appealing food.

Encourage longer stints in the car-seat as maturity leads to self-entertaining play.

Develop positive associations with vehicles outside of driving time.


Embrace the open road and all the emotions it may bring.

The summary here is embrace flexibility, bend the rules for sanity sake and have one goal and one goal only: arrive alive. (We are going to struggle in America, clearly.)

Last month we took Bronwyn for the last of her immunizations. This means this is the last time we have to travel 20 round-trip hours all for ONE silly hepatitis shot until she turns four. Please join me in proclaiming a collective hallelujah. Because… just, hallelujah. As “fun” as we’ve tried to make all this travel, staying local has its perks too.

Anyone else have travel tips they’d like to add?