How We Survived a Road Trip to Maine with Three Kids Ages 5 and Under
To be honest, Charlie is such an easy baby and being baby number three, everything is pretty much second nature to us. Our real challenge is dealing with a two unpredictable toddlers while traveling with a baby! ;-) There are so many factors that can affect the behavior of a toddler- if they’ve had enough sleep, if they are getting enough attention or are bored, or hungry, etc. However, we deal with all these factors at home, so why not see some new places while we parent. ;-)
Driving vs. Flying
I recently had a conversation with a friend about traveling with kids and our preference to take them by car or plane. Personally, I prefer flying over driving with kids. I like being able to get up and walk around (after takeoff), being able to use the bathroom without stopping travel time, getting a meal (and a glass of wine), watching endless movies on our international flights and having my husband’s help with the kids while we are flying. My friend prefers road trips, however, and pointed out that her kids generally fall asleep easier in their car seats and it’s so nice to have them all contained. J
Road Trip Tips
I bet a bunch of you could add so much more advice about traveling by car with kids because you are more experienced than us. Here’s what we found works for our kids:
· We bring tablets loaded with apps and movies that are only for vacation, they are not allowed to play with them at home. It becomes a special “vacation” treat and occupies them for a long time.
· I come prepared with a bunch of snacks for the drive and then, in typical Matt fashion, he picks up more snacks at a gas station that put my snacks to shame. ;-)
· Then we always stop at McDonalds for a happy meal. It’s our thing; we let them eat McDonalds after getting their haircut and when we are on vacation. Dylan will tell you it’s his favorite part about vacation. J
Here is our itinerary for traveling to Maine from Buffalo, New York stopping along the way in Vermont and New Hampshire:
This town is known for its farmers’ market, and although we didn’t make the Brattleboro Farmer’s Market, we were able to pick up some produce at the Putney farmer’s market. To read more about Brattleboro Vermont, and details about what we did you can read my post here.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is wonderful, especially if you prefer a city rather than a quaint small town. It is fun because it is right along the water with a bunch of sea food restaurants and a lot of activity! You can read more about what did and where we ate in Portsmouth here.
You may have heard of Kennebunkport as the popular vacation destination for the Bush family and it is no wonder why they would want to vacation because it is so quaint and scenic. My favorite part about Kennebunkport was seeing all the beautiful big old colonial homes in town. You can read more about Kennebunkport here.
Bar Harbor, Maine
We couldn’t wait to explore Bar Harbor and this is the only place where we spent two nights visiting because we knew that we would enjoy it so much. Last summer we went to Banff, and we thought Bar Harbor would be similar, exploring gorgeous landscapes around the national park. We went on some toddler friendly hikes, jumped waves at the beach, and wandered around the very touristy town. For more information about Bar Harbor, you can read my blog here.
We were surprised how big the city of Portland actually is considering the population is pretty small. There were so many restaurants and cafes, shopping, and a pretty good night life (from what we saw heading back to our hotel at 9pm). You can read more about Portland and what we did here.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
If you like nature and family hikes, this is the place for you! Matt and the boys loved walking along trails in the woods and the views were fantastic! Our stay in Mount Washington can be found here.
This was our second time in Burlington and we still love it. I have to say, of the 7 places we visited, Burlington is my favorite. In fact Matt and I are already planning to return again without kids, because I think there are some things we would really enjoy doing as couple- like riding bikes around town, Magic Hat brewery, shopping, and staying at our favorite Inn: Willard Street Inn (which does not accommodate children).
How we sleep. Accommodations for a family of FIVE
Matt used to book hotels for two and request a pack’n’play, which made booking so much easier because more rooms were available to us. We would always bring our Kidco PeaPod travel bed for one of the boys to sleep in and then the other boy would sleep in the Pack’n’play. If you don’t have a Kidco Pea Pod sleep tent, we would highly recommend it! We like it because; it’s small and folds up to fit into our suitcase, the kids can’t get out (so we know they are not wondering around an unfamiliar room at night) and it is something familiar for them since we take it everywhere, so it’s easier for them to fall asleep at night.
Now, with 3 kids, we have to book hotel rooms suitable for families, which definitely narrows our options. We need rooms with at least two big beds, one for Matt and I and one for the boys to share. Charlie sleeps in the KidCo Pea Pod now. J However, a few nights this trip we kept Charlie on our bed while the boys were falling asleep and put Christopher in the tent so that the two of them could settle down apart from each other. Once asleep, we moved Christopher so that Charlie could sleep in the Pea Pod. Anyone else’s kids just want to play and jump on the hotel bed together when it’s time to sleep? ;-)
Getting around town with THREE kids
Some of you probably know my fear of cars when we are on vacation. It stemmed from a friend from college whose four year old sister was hit and killed by a car while on a family vacation when she was little. I will forever be strict about walking along busy streets with my kids. They must be contained or holding a hand. This trip we decided to bring our fold up wagon for the boys and umbrella stroller for Charlie (5 months). I am really beginning to like wagons for kids. It’s perfect for the boys to play together, share a snack, they can even lie down next to each other and take a nap if they are tired and they are contained. It’s easy to pull on sand or gravel so it was perfect for Maine because we would take it through the national parks without a problem. The wagon we have is a little lower end, you can find it here, but I’d love to splurge and get a Keenz Wagon soon. :) We also love our stroller, the summer infant umbrella stroller. We’ve had the same one since Dylan was a baby and it is has probably traveled to more countries that most adults. ;-) We love that it folds up super small and even has a strap to carry it like a bag. It has great storage underneath and we love having two handles to push so that we have a place to hang bags and our camera. Unfortunately, we have had difficulty with their double stroller, you can read more about my experience with their double here.
I see more road trips in our future. Obviously the more kids you have the more expensive flying will be, but the cost of driving stays the same- even if we had another 5 babies- sounds good Matt? ;-) There are so many places in America that we haven’t visited yet and I’m looking forward to experiencing different “cultures” in sections of America as well as enjoying the beautiful and diverse landscapes across our country. What is your favorite place in America?