Lessons Learned on our First Family Road Trip

  I just rediscovered this blog post, written back in April, and set aside because I hadn’t added photos. It makes for amusing reading – amusing in hindsight, but also in the knowledge that we haven’t attempted another road trip since…

We recently drove from our hometown to Napier, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, for a short stay away. It’s nearly 300km, and should take around 4 hours each way. We were optimistic about Little Bear’s response to this trip, to our detriment at times!

These are the lessons we learned:

1. Road trips are difficult when your baby doesn’t like extended periods in his car seat. This leads to further learning, however, such as:

2. Music is essential. We sang for the last hour nonstop – the usual lullabies, some old spirituals, film music, anything we could think of. It was just as much for our sanity as to soothe the wailing baby in the back seat.

3. Arriving after bedtime isn’t very clever. We didn’t have a choice about this, this time, but had hoped that he’d fall asleep in the car and transfer smoothly. Not so much. Luckily, he was so zonked by the late night and the exhaustion of extreme displeasure that he slept soundly and gave us a bit of a sleep in (still woke to feed a couple of times, as per his usual pattern).

4. Having a king size bed in the motel is very nice! Plenty of space for the bubba to starfish between us during the 6 – 8am sleep in period. Bonus for everyone!

5. Other novelties in the motel room provided much amusement – namely, the extra-large wall mirror and the ceiling fan. The latter even held sway during the evening cranky period. Wish we had one at home!

6. The major downside to the motel room was that it was just that – a room, singular. Anything remotely noisy, like boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, could only be done while Little Bear was awake. Light was also an issue. With sleep still a hard-won battle, we generally preferred to stumble round by nightlight and peer at our iPad /iPod screens than risk a lamp to read by.

7. The aforementioned quiet, dark evenings made me realise how much I don’t miss TV. Not even a decent sized, flat-screen could tempt me!

8. Long walks are an excellent way to see the sights and get a feel for a new place. B. was at a conference for half the time we were away, so I put the little guy in his buggy and we just walked and walked. He got in some good naps, I got exercise and sunshine and we covered good ground. The beachside promenade was worth multiple visits.IMG_1020

9. Asking the locals for recommendations is another good idea. This meant we had delicious donuts at Mister D’s, wholesome goodies from Chantal Organics and their Wholefoods Cafe and an array of treats from the amazing farmers’ market in Hastings.


Clive Square


10. Don’t judge your son’s opinion of road trips on just the first drive! On the way home, he slept for extended blocks, or gurgled away to himself and his toys until he got hungry. We arrived home feeling fairly positive about the trip in the end!


A post-feed play with the steering wheel halfway home



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