Many people hear that we are going to be “tramping” full-time with our children and their mouths drop open. They gape at me for a moment and then the praises of “Your family must be incredible” begin. From there, a long question and answer session ensues. One of my not so secret secrets is our support group. I am part of both the Powerline Wives (not currently as I needed a personal break…but usually) and a Tramp Wives group made up of strong women who travel with their Power Lineman, Pipe Lineman, Contractor, et al. These ladies can always answer my concerns and if they cannot then they will find a solution with me. Often, I would be lost without them. We are also members of the Fulltime Families general public Facebook group and let me say, they are amazing.
There are many things that I have found to help us make the long trips easier. We usually drive straight through without stopping overnight. Our shorter trips were about 2 hours while our longest trips have been 30+ hours. These can be rough but with the right preparations it is completely doable…even with our 3 littles who are all 4 and under.
The most important tip that I can give to start with would be to watch your travel timing. It may seem counterproductive to stop soon after leaving out but often this has been a trip lifesaver for us. We always try to hit the road about 45 minutes to an hour before either lunch or dinner time. We are late eaters. When we are all together our lunch is about 1pm and dinner is usually about 7pm with snacks in-between. Leaving out about an hour before allows us to get the first mini stretch out of the way. We then stop to eat, change the two littlest, and give the big girl a Goodnight (she’s almost always dry when she wakes up…but I’m not willing to risk it in the truck!) Once strapped back in, they are all wound up for about 20 minutes before crashing. This gives us 2-3 hours of silence before they are up. We stop to stretch, potty, and nurse the baby when everyone wakes up. If it is late afternoon then we will drive for another 2-3 hours handing out snacks as needed before stopping for dinner. If it was bedtime then the older two will sleep through the night and the baby will wake to eat about every 3-4 hours or when we stop for gas. Morning involves a long breakfast and some time to run around before trying to get back on a similar schedule for the day.
Leaving out early morning means a lot more time entertaining while trapped in a vehicle and that isn’t easy for us. When driving straight through, it makes the entire trip more stressful on the adults and less enjoyable for everyone. Well, at least that has been our experience so far. Kudos to families who function differently. Every group has their own system but this works for our family. Try out some different scenarios and see what helps you. Have some suggestions? We would love to hear them over on Facebook!