To say that I was apprehensive about our December trip would have been an understatement. Twins, a car, a 13 hour drive to our destination. It could have gone very horribly wrong but luckily the trip was less stressful than expected. Don’t get me wrong it was still hard but there weren’t any major meltdowns or other unpleasantness other than exploding nappies.
We considered driving overnight but the reality is that the roads aren’t as safe as they were when our parents drove with us sleeping on the backseat. The roads are busier, there are more trucks, faster cars and we know better. So instead we did the trip over two days with a stopover at our favourite halfway point Lushof Lodge just outside Colesburg. Lisa hosts our family every year as we traipse down to the coast in drips and drabs, so it is always nice to see our entries in the guestbook and remember back to holidays past. In 2011 we stayed over with 1 month old newborn twins. A year later we have busy toddlers.
The trip down with the boys at 1 month was a lot easier than at a year. They mostly slept the whole way down and the only challenge was tandem breastfeeding in the back of the car at every other stop. This year was very different. Our boys refused to sleep more than 45min and their usual well coordinated and in sync routine went out the window. The trip down we tried to schedule stops to coincide the boys nap time and awake time but that very quickly went out the window. We survived though and there were a few things that made life immeasurably easier.
Hints and tips for travelling with twins:
- Happy Little Travellers. These are soft foam lap tables that fit around the car chair and make it easier for your little one/s to keep their toys, bottles, snacks and other bits from falling off their laps while in the car. It is soft enough that it doesn’t pose a danger in the event of an accident. Our boys were irritated by them at first but now are used to them and we use them a lot. We started using the before the road trip so the boys would have a little time to get used to them. We bought ours at the MamaMagic Baby Expo Nov 2012 for about R300 each.
- A bag of new toys. With the boys birthday being in November the boys were given lots of toys. We kept a whole bunch of the noisy toys aside in a bag and dished them out at intervals throughout the trip. The bag of toys has become our permanent car toys and the boys love having “new” toys to play with in the car. Some favourites are; their electric drum set… of all the toys this is the only one that they fight over, a funny little chameleon that sings colour songs that the got from their great uncle and cousin, and the LeapFrog music player. We also packed so of their favourite books which also kept them busy for a surprisingly long time.
- Snacks. New and different things to eat which aren’t too messy and are also low in sugar. Winning snacks were pieces of apple, Organ Outback biscuits and Wild-berry Dinosaur biscuits, corn or rice cakes, mielies (corn on the cob for our non-SA friends), toasted cheese sandwiches, blueberries, dried mango strips, biltong sticks and droe wors (kind of like beef jerky).
- Stop and rest. When the kids get fractious find a place to stop and let them get out and run around and expend their pent up energy. Which leads us on to our brilliant new finds as far as places to stop: Bloemfontein – Windmill casino has a Spur with an AMAZING kiddies play area. Go there! Beaufort West – Go to the Spur instead of fighting for a spot at the Engen Wimpy, the Spur is on the same main circle and is much quieter and has a far bigger play area. Yes I know we all like Wimpy coffee but happy babies are just so much better. Then there is also the Maxi’s in Ventersburg that has a lovely outdoor play area which is worth a stop at.
- Stop immediately for every poo face. You know the one, their eyes scrunch up and they make a little grunting noise. The reason is, I have tried every nappy on the market and there isn’t a single one that doesn’t leak…or worse still spectacularly explode when a toddler is left in a car seat with a poo nappy for longer than about 3.4 seconds. The addendum to this tip is to pack many pairs of extra shorts/pants, as well as a couple large bottle of water to clean up the mess. We found that Soak-it compressed wet wipes (available from Cape Union Mart R15 for a tube of 10) and compressed towels (about R15 each from Dischem) were an absolute godsend for messes bigger than a wet wipe could fix. Next time I am considering trying a water proof on over the boys nappies to contain the mess and save the clothes.
- Go with the flow. The boys ended up having a very disruptive couple days. There is no way around it, they won’t be in their usual routine and that may make them, and you a little cranky. Wing it. Change things to make then and you more comfortable. Our boys had their dummies with them even though they usually aren’t allowed to suck a dummy at anytime other than sleep time. Stop for unscheduled stops. Find fun things to do along the way like stopping for pizza at a padstal. Our drive took closer to 9hrs instead of the 6 that it would have taken without the boys but when we arrived at Lushof and then at our final destination, our boys were happy and relaxed and we were only a little frazzled. We are a family who enjoys road trips so hopefully we can instil a sense of adventure in our boys from an early age.