I made a master list of things I needed to bring – and there was a lot. I mean, I knew the kids had taken over a fair bit of the house, but it’s amazing how much space it takes up when you try to cram it into a vehicle - a vehicle already filled with car seats, babies and two full-grown humans.
This was my first major foray into long-distance travel with kids, so I know there are going to be some experienced moms and dads who roll their eyes at some of the amateur mistakes I made. I’m right there with you.
My grand plan was to leave in the mid-morning on Friday (also known as “my first mistake”). We kicked off beautifully between 10 or 10:30 a.m. Our first stop was in Waterville, where I utilized a convenient Dunkin’ Donuts for hot water and ample parking lot and realized I had forgotten to pack spoons. We improvised with plastic spoons, but to say that I made a bit of a mess is an understatement. Thank goodness I packed extra outfits.
The next stop was in Kennebunk at the humungo rest area/service station. This time we went inside because it was getting toasty. I somehow managed to score a primo parking spot right in front (legally!). We hauled them inside to the blissful air conditioning, and even more blissful restroom with changing table. God bless the restroom architects who place the changing table outside a bathroom stall (more on this later).
My mum-in-law stood guard over the babies while I changed them, fetched hot water for bottle warming and made umpteen-million trips to and from the car (I use the term “car” loosely to refer to my huge vehicle). Every time I came back to the kids, there was a small group of people politely observing how cute and awesome and three of them they are. All of which was lovely, because of course they are.
Though I knew traveling with three beans would take longer than making the trip sans babies, I had failed to calculate accurately how much longer it would take. Each stop added a little more than an hour each time, which caused us to arrive in Massachusetts just in time for rush hour traffic in Lowell.
Now, rush hour in Bangor means you’re stopped at the Broadway/State Street traffic light for two light cycles. Rush hour in Lowell means you come to a dead stop on the highway in a vehicle, which, despite the AC, is getting pretty warm. And being stuck so long with no forward movement added an extra feeding, which in turn added an extra hour or more. We pulled off the highway and made a bee-line for the nearest fast food empire by the highway – McDonalds. At first, the kind gentleman behind the counter was perplexed at my request for three large hot waters (coupled with an ice water and chocolate shake). But once I explained the purpose behind the order, he went into helpful overdrive. Everyone at the restaurant was friendly and helpful despite the wicked heat in the kitchen.
We did another round of changes but had to wait for the restroom to free up (we were not the only people with the bright idea to take a break from the rush hour traffic). And with the changing table located on the inside of one of the stalls, we had to take turns.
Then, hopping back on the highway after some still sluggish traffic, we drove and hour or so more and made it to our destination. What did I learn from this? Travel at night! I probably have a million seasoned moms rolling their eyes and simultaneously muttering “duh.” But it was my first time!
Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience. The kids were super, people were kind and patient, and the visit was spectacular. Best of all? I learned that I can take the brood out for extended periods of time!