Road Trip vs Flying with Little Ones

Recently we were able to take our family on a fun vacation to California where we enjoyed Disneyland, delicious food and a great time celebrating my brother-in-law’s wedding. When traveling with little ones though, what’s a better option: road trip or flying?

We have had the opportunity to do both with our kids and I am here to tell you what has been our experience.

Growing up I remember many road trips to California, Southern Utah and even driving all over the country viewing the Midwest and other states back east. I was little and it was in the days when you didn’t really worry about having a seatbelt on. We owned a Voltswagon Vanagon and would make a bed out of the back seats. I remember laying down most of the time we traveled, eating all the snacks and listening to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack over and over. It seemed like it was a great time, but would it be the same with my own kids?

As we piled in the car to head out to California the kids seemed like they were going to be be fine and handle it nicely. I mean, we were only traveling to Southern Utah for this first trek, so it couldn’t be that bad could it?

Driving down the freeway we were glad and surprised that both kids fell asleep quickly. We didn’t even pull out the iPad the first day. This trip was going to be an absolute breeze, I thought. Boy was I wrong. We made it to Southern Utah safe with no problem and became excited for our next day’s adventure to Southern California.

The trip seemed familiar with another start of kids sleeping. There was a six hours drive ahead of us, so I never expected the kids to sleep the entire time, but only getting 30 minutes wasn’t enough at all. We pulled out all of our travel games, books, iPad, treats and songs.

Screaming, crying, yelling! We were all getting frustrated quickly and there were no signs stopping anytime soon.

The hard part about road trips is that you are stuck in your seats being pretty helpless at helping those in the back. Many times we pulled over for diaper changes, feedings and just needing to get some wiggles out, but I felt like it wasn’t ever really easy or enough. My wife climbed in the back and interacted with the kids but that is not the most comfortable way to travel. The last day we drove straight through and our 8 month old hated us. She was happy when we stopped and got her out of her seat but screamed for 2 hours straight, making us all scream and question our road trip decision. We will road trip again but maybe not until our children are out of car seats.

Hop on a plane and you have a whole new set of issues. If you are lucky enough to get an empty seat next to you then you can bring your car seat, or have your child sit there, but airlines are always doing everything they can to not have flights leave with any empty seats. Once you are airborne, you are safe to move about and it makes things easier for both parents and child. But we’ve all been on a flight with a screaming child or grumpy toddler. Heck, my child has been the screamer- its the most stressful two-eight hours of my life. I personally love that flights are a much faster way of getting to the final destination.

I know what they say, “Enjoy the journey!” Well I say, “Screw that and enjoy the destination!” Personally I would rather spend more time enjoying our destination than “enjoying” the time it takes to get there, especially with my littles.

Yes, memories will be made on a road trip, but we have made many memories on a flight that are just as good, if not better. It may cost a little more but in the long run, will be totally worth your sanity.

Maybe there will be a point when road trips will be more fun and enjoyable, but for now I think we will stick with getting those frequent flyer miles.