Road Trip!?! - Albertville,MN

Updated on October 13, 2011
L.C. asks from Albertville, MN
14 answers

My Brother will be graduating from basic training in a few months and I would really like to be there to see him graduate. The problem is..... the road trip that we may have to take!!!! We would have to travel about 1300 miles to get there. My husband would not be able to get out of work or school so it would just be my 5 year old and me. My parents are driving down there with my younger sister and have offer to let us ride with them. I'm really worried about the whole thing. My 5 year old can't stand going on a 3 hour car ride, so I can't imagine a 3 day car trip. I'm not sure how I would handle the 3 day car trip myself!!! I do believe that it could be a really fun and exciting adventure if I could maybe get some great advice and pointers from all the Mamas!! Thanks to you all in advance!!

I LOVE the Fly option, but not sure its in the budget!!! Or trust me the tickets would already be purchased!!!

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answers from San Francisco on

I think you should fly. By the time you add up the cost of gas, hotels and food on the road for three days it would probably actually be cheaper, not to mention a LOT easier!

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answers from Minneapolis on

What if you go with your family and leave your son home with your husband? Get him a babysitter while your husband is at work or school. It might be nice for you to have that special time with your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My kids don't do really well in a car either..... if I were you I would consider having your parents ride together and you and your younger sister ride in your car - maybe have her in the back seat to hod a portable DVD, etc.

I don't know what service your brother is graduating from but I do remember driving from MA to SC to see my brother graduate from Paris Island and just so you know it is a VERY quick turn around... they have a ceremony in the AM and then they go clean out their barracks and are in the car with you in no time driving home. Not sure if that will be the case w/ his graduation but that is how it was with my brother.



answers from Charlotte on



answers from Dallas on

FLY. That's an insane amount of time to be in a car with a 5 yr old, your parents, and sister. That's an insane amount of time to be in a car period.



answers from Eau Claire on

DEFINITLY get a small portable DVD player with headphones and get a variety of DVD's.



answers from Oklahoma City on

With a 5 year old you should be able to supply enough activities for him to stay busy. One thing you MUST do is schedule stops every 2-3 hours. It could be long enough to go to the bathroom or it could be to stop at a playground. He needs to have activity time to get exercise and run amok! Sitting for unending hours is impossible for adults think about what a child is going through.

We drove 1225 miles to a friends house and did it in 2 days. We stopped frequently, not as much as if we had kids in the car but we did do some sightseeing too. I think 3 days is a long time to take to get there. You could do a schedule that allows driving into the night too. We always leave around 7-8 pm the first night. We drive for hours after the kids drop off. If he doesn't stay dry when he's extremely excited then start him off in jammies and a pull up.

Put a movie in a DVD player and take off. He is going to be super excited so it may be hard for him to drop off early. If he's awake a couple of hours later then plan on stopping for a bathroom break and a snack, this should be quiet time, not playtime at McDonalds. He needs to still be working towards falling asleep.

Then the driver should continue driving as long as it is safe for them to drive or change to a different driver to extend the driving as much as possible. Once the driving that night is exhausted stop and check in to a motel that serves at least some sort of breakfast to save time and waiting in line.

If you leave the hotel by 8am-9am you could be good to go until an early lunch time, maybe 11am?, then make sure he can run and play and be wild and crazy. He needs this time to use up nearly 24 hours of energy. It may be that he needs a mid morning break for this too then you can postpone lunch a while. Each meal break should take a while for him to run and play. He needs it so much and the trip will go much smoother for him.

Once you start up again I would get his mind engaged in some sort of activity that will take his total focus. If you are a resourceful person making some sort of table top like insert to fit where he can have a hard surface would be wonderful for him so he can color, do a puzzle, run his cars around, play with play doh, etc.....

Take another bread for an afternoon snack and some physical activity time then again at dinner. If he is awake after dark then he should be able to have a late snack again.

With this time schedule you really should reach your destination this next day. Only 1 full day on the road with one evening and one full morning and perhaps an afternoon.


There is always Amtrak, I just picked a date a couple of months away to see how it would work out.

You would get on the train in St.Paul/MN at 7:50 am and arrive the same day in Chicago at 3:55pm, in coach seats, $88.50 one way for one adult and one child.

Then there are several options of which way to go, each take about a day and leave the Chicago station a few hours after you get there. For example if the graduation was at Fort Jackson SC., the cost I got of one way with an adult and one child was less than $300 one way, from St. Paul to Charleston .

You would then get a rental car to meet you or have a family member pick you up. Then coming back it would be different times of the day but still doable.



answers from Detroit on

It's not so bad. If you split it up into three days, that's about 7 hours of driving a day. Take a short break and a long one, try to stay at hotels with pools so your son can get rid of some energy and it gives him something to look forward to. Since you won't be driving think of it as a good time to spend with your son. Take some books, toys, and a DVD player if you have one. Don't forget to take some special snacks.

Have fun!

ETA: take a map so she can check it while your traveling.


answers from La Crosse on

Its not so bad. Just take alot of activities for your child to do. Crayons and color books, maybe a dvd player ( borrow one from someone if you don't have one) books/ books on tape. Few of his favorite toys. If you stop every couple of hours your child should be fine. Between you and the others in the car you can play card games or other games that don't have alot of loose pieces.

Im sure you all will do just fine, it will be a great experience for you child to see your brother graduate!



answers from Minneapolis on

I travel a lot with my son . Our first 1800 mile trip was when he was 4. I planned it so we would have one fun destination each day based on activities he liked (children's museum, zoo, etc). Just research online with your child ahead of time based on the route you will take. Our strategy is to get up in the morning, then drive to that destination (arrive early to mid afternoon, spend 2-3 hours), then drive until we stopped for the night.

For in the car: books on tape (check out from the library), a box of his favorite toys, some new toys wrapped up for him to open one each day, and some music CDs. I never gave him a DVD player to watch. For your child's age get a mixture of shorter books on tape/CD that have the picture book included (also check out Barefoot Books if you want to buy some great ones!) and longer novels (The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter were favorites). We would sing, play car type games (alphabet game, etc) and just chat. We have since taken other long trips including a 16 day 5200 mile trip to 8 National Parks this past spring (he was 7). The key is to give opportunities to stretch legs, burn off energy, create excitement about each new destination, and leave plenty of flexibility in the travel itinerary.

Personally I much prefer to travel with just my son, rather than a car load of other people who might have a different idea of the schedule. Having 1 other person in the back seat can make it more fun for your child in terms of playing travel games or cards, but 5 people might be too much unless the vehicle is larger.



answers from Seattle on


We took lots of major road trips when I was a kiddo, but I think I was at least 7 yo. And that was way before carseats, so my brothers and I would be able to play in the back of the car during the trip. Sticking a 5yo in a carseat/booster for 3 days in a row (and then back again) seems cruel. Your brother will understand. Your 5yo will not.



answers from New York on

If your little guy can't handle 3 hours then I think you should rethink the trip. Not only will he be miserable but so will everyone in the car.

If you are gonna give it a try, a DVD player that can charge in the lighter is a MUST. You can get them for pretty cheap these days or look on craigslist.

Also, bring a small cookie sheet that has sides so he can do some play dough and not have it all over the place. Same with crayons.

Hopefully, your brother will understand if you decide not to go.



answers from Washington DC on

I agree to either fly, take lots of breaks - like every 2 hours, or drive as much as possible at night.

It also depends on what type of vehicle you are taking. Traveling 3 days in a van with Captain chairs where everyone has leg room is ALOT different then traveling for 3 days in a Toyota Camry.



answers from Bismarck on

My son and I did a similar length road trip when he was about 3.5 years old. He never liked to be in the car either and was not good sleeping in the car. I didn't want to travel alone and ended up in a van with various other family members. I was the map reader so having others there to keep my son occupied was essential. Our trip went okay. I had a portable DVD player and various "new" toys and books. I also carried a variety of snacks in the car. We stopped at several parks each day to let my son run off some energy. We often ate while he was playing. He usually ate after we got back in the car. We stayed at our destination for almost 2 weeks before our return trip. I'm not sure how long you are planning to stay wherever this graduation is but if it is less time than you will spend in the car then it might not be worth the trip. Is there any way you could have your husband drop your son off at daycare or a sitter's place during the day and then pick him up when he's done? That way you could still enjoy the trip and you might be able to afford flying since it would just be one ticket? I understand wanting to see your brother graduate. It's a big deal to you both BUT he will understand if you can't make it. IF you do decide to go, then I also suggest taking a ball with you. Sometimes we couldn't find a park with much equipment but if you take a ball with you then you just need a "green space" to play catch or kick the ball.

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