Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Road Beckons

In ten days from now, we are embracing our adventurous side and driving down from Hyderabad to Bangalore. Now, you might not think that that is particularly adventurous but spending 8 hours in a confined space moving at high speeds with two boisterous kids spells daring in my books.

In some ways, just catching a flight like we always do would be so much easier but a bunch of reasons made us decide to take the car instead:

  • With both the Hyderabad and Bangalore airports being in the boonies and the time spent in both airports, the trip from our home to my in-laws place takes anywhere between 5-6 hours, and that is if the flight is on time. People in the know tell us the drive takes 8 hours, which is really not that much more.
  • We will have our own car at our disposal for the week or so that we are in Bangalore. 
  • I didn't plan it that way, but the kids have travelled almost exclusively by flights so far. I would like them to experience the pains and joys of other modes of inter-city transport as well - cars, trains, maybe even buses.
  • I love to drive and most of my time behind the wheel is spent in city traffic. The idea of a long drive on open road appeals to me.
  • I can file this under my growing list of things that fall under the category 'What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger'.
I am going to be the designated driver. This is an obvious one because I love to drive and Jai doesn't. Also, he is a distractible driver and I am a tense, nagging backseat driver. So in the interest of family safety and harmony, it makes more sense for me to drive.

Our plan is to leave super early on Sunday morning, about 2 hours before the kids' regular wake-up time. We plan to bundle them into the car straight from their beds so that they get back to sleep and we can get a fair distance under our belts in relative peace. One can hope, right?

Now this is the part where you, kind readers, come in. I need all the help, advice and tips that you can offer to make this journey as smooth as possible.

To those who have done the Hyderabad-Bangalore road trip in particular, I want to know:
  1. How long did it actually take you? Is eight hours a reasonable time to expect to do it in?
  2. What is the best time to hit the road?
  3. What are the best pit stops for food and loo breaks?
  4. Any information about the road/ route itself.
  5. Any other information that you think might be relevant and helpful.
To those of you who do long trips with their kids regularly, I essentially want to know - how do you do it? More specifically,
  1. What's good car food to carry that is healthy and yet low on mess factor?
  2. Please suggest some good car games and activities to keep a seven and three year old from going stir-crazy.
  3. Anything else that I should keep in mind to make the journey as pain-free as possible for all concerned.
Give it up, people. Tell me your travel secrets.

46 comments:

  1. Did the Blr-Hyd-Blr trip in Aug. Here goes:

    1. Took us 7 hours door to door.

    2. The road is biyootiful. 6 lane. Hardly any traffic. Many stretches were completely empty. The only thing to watch out for is herds of goats crossing the road - that comes up unexpectedly esp'ly because you will be going at high speeds (we even went at 120 in some stretches).

    3. Best time - leave AEAP. We left at 6 am, reached Hyd for lunch.

    4. Not too many options for breaks - there is a chain of some standard dhaba type (I forget the name) place attached to a petrol station. It appears at regular enough intervals and is clean enough.

    5. Don't expect phenomenal food though - best to carry your own food if possible. I took a crate full of snacks - fruit, juice cartons, crisps, chocolate, khakra, lemon rice, yogurt pot.

    6. My kids don't usually listen much to Bollywood. On this trip they listened to about 50 old Hindi film songs - all my favourites and by the end of the trip they could identify Kishore Kumar from Rafi from Mukesh :) I kept explaining the meanings too - so they picked up some words (Hindi/urdu) that they wouldn't have otherwise!

    7. Music music music - esp'ly because reading is banned in a moving vehicle. Mine are older though - for the 3-yo maybe some new games/toys might work?

    8. One last thing: near Anantapur which is exactly midway, the road ahead was jammed. We were told farmers had blocked the road ahead and hence traffic was held up on both sides. The situation was so since a few hours and did not look anywhere close to resolution. Our resourceful driver drove back a bit and figured a bypass route through villages and groundnut fields - quite an adventure that was- and the kids actually enjoyed the unexpected detour thoroughly. We were lucky, else we'd have wasted God-knows-how-many hours there. Just thought I'd let you know about this, not trying to scare you or anything.

    9. Hope this helps! Googlemaps was very useful - the road is straight but it was fun tracking exactly where we were at any point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about loos? One should just use the great outdoors?

      I plan to carry a reasonable amount of food.

      Since it is a season and the reason for the trip, I am planning to fill up some Christmas music on my iPod for the journey so I shall have Jingle Bells coming out of my ears :p

      Dammit. My phone is now on the new iOS which came pre-loaded on the replacement phone so no more Google Maps :o(

      Delete
    2. No need for that. There are loos at reasonable intervals and these are clean. But yes if you need o use the great outdoors why not?!

      And apologies - dunno why that got posted twice!

      Oh and missed one more point - are packing for along road trip so remembered - lots of cushions and a favourite blanket.

      Delete
    3. Good to know about the loos. Thanks!

      Delete
    4. I understand youre using an iPhone? The brand new google maps app just came out yesterday and its actually even better than the original maps (before the iOS6 fiasco) So map on!

      Delete
    5. If youre using an iPhone, the brand new Google Maps app just came out two days ago. And its supposedly even better that the original maps that we had even before the iOS6 fiasco! Get it and get mapping!!

      Delete
    6. Ok blogger has eaten up my comment three times now..grrrr!!

      So here goes again, If youre using an iPhone, the brand new Google Maps app just came out two days ago. It is supposedly even better than the original maps we had even before the iOS6 fiasco! So get it, get mapping!

      Delete
    7. I know! Downloaded it just yesterday :-)

      Delete
  2. Did the Blr-Hyd-Blr trip in Aug. Here goes:

    1. Took us 7 hours door to door.

    2. The road is biyootiful. 6 lane. Hardly any traffic. Many stretches were completely empty. The only thing to watch out for is herds of goats crossing the road - that comes up unexpectedly esp'ly because you will be going at high speeds (we even went at 120 in some stretches).

    3. Best time - leave AEAP. We left at 6 am, reached Hyd for lunch.

    4. Not too many options for breaks - there is a chain of some standard dhaba type (I forget the name) place attached to a petrol station. It appears at regular enough intervals and is clean enough.

    5. Don't expect phenomenal food though - best to carry your own food if possible. I took a crate full of snacks - fruit, juice cartons, crisps, chocolate, khakra, lemon rice, yogurt pot.

    6. My kids don't usually listen much to Bollywood. On this trip they listened to about 50 old Hindi film songs - all my favourites and by the end of the trip they could identify Kishore Kumar from Rafi from Mukesh :) I kept explaining the meanings too - so they picked up some words (Hindi/urdu) that they wouldn't have otherwise!

    7. Music music music - esp'ly because reading is banned in a moving vehicle. Mine are older though - for the 3-yo maybe some new games/toys might work?

    8. One last thing: near Anantapur which is exactly midway, the road ahead was jammed. We were told farmers had blocked the road ahead and hence traffic was held up on both sides. The situation was so since a few hours and did not look anywhere close to resolution. Our resourceful driver drove back a bit and figured a bypass route through villages and groundnut fields - quite an adventure that was- and the kids actually enjoyed the unexpected detour thoroughly. We were lucky, else we'd have wasted God-knows-how-many hours there. Just thought I'd let you know about this, not trying to scare you or anything.

    9. Hope this helps! Googlemaps was very useful - the road is straight but it was fun tracking exactly where we were at any point.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 8 hours is reasonable with an hour of all breaks included.
    Kurnool is almost midway and is good stopover. There is an okayish eatery there..Holiday Inn.
    Loos are atrocious mostly.
    Stack up on loads of snacks.. lots of dhabas on the way but I found most of them shady for a family to go.
    Route is pretty good as the highway NH44( i think) is new and in shape.

    I went when my daughter was 11 months old.. so she wasnt so much of a fuss. She was happy with songs and crayons. We started real early like 4ish. Reached Blore by 12.30

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holiday Inn as in the hotel chain or just a local joint?

      Loos, I am thinking, the kids can learn to use the ever-available outdoors?

      Thanks for weighing in.

      Delete
    2. just a local joint,da. They can I hope. That ll be more hygenic.

      Delete
    3. also you can check the site www.team-bhp.com., they have pretty much all info for the route.

      Delete
  4. We have done a bunch of 7 or 8 hr trips with the two kids. Leave pre dawn hours and have everything ready the night before...they wake up when they get into the car and spend an hour that day and fall asleep for 2 or 3 hours after that...break for breakfast. Then continue. Word games...and KB's favorite is animal facts...and twenty questions..We buy fresh bakery bread in the morning on the way so that keeps them going...and grapes.
    Enjoy the ride!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ayaan loved twenty questions too. I am more worried about keeping Tarana entertained.

      Delete
  5. If it helps, when we did the Delhi-Chandigarh road trip as kids, the mother's last resort for the brother and me was to make us count a certain type of car on the road. She originally wanted us to count trees, but we thought that was stupid. Maruti Esteems, we could do, no problem.

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    Replies
    1. We used to do that too. And this was back when Maruti 800s were just becoming popular so it was great fun to count those.

      Delete
  6. Here are some of the things I follow.
    1. Start early so that they can sleep good 3-4 hours and then you can break. (which you are already planning to do)
    2. Pack some snacks like crackers, fruits so that even if you are away from any rest area you have options.
    3. My daughter survives on lot of milk when we travel, so I pack her sealed milk which I can open and it’s ready to use.
    4. I have also portable DVD player which is a great saver especially when we have to drive 10-12 hrs continuously.
    5. Also I have downloaded lot of app on my iPad which she likes to play while we are on move.
    6. We also have tried stickers and I give her a book so that it can keep her busy for some time.
    7. Books are great idea if they are into reading, listening to stories.
    8. I keep engaging her in everything that we do, for eg I give her information about place we are going, whom we are meeting etc to keep her motivated.
    9. Also I play games like spot red car, blue flag etc.
    Hope this helps.

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    Replies
    1. How does this DVD player thing work? Does it come with its own screen? Where do you place it in the car?

      Delete
  7. are you talking about the time i take two calmpose and turn off the light in the gray matter.

    travel. shriek. with kids. i dont want to ever go on that road again. we did eight hours from kuala lumpur to redang island. longest longest longest ever 8 hours.

    do not feed the kids anything. let them eat at blore.

    i was the throw up catcher and wouldnt wish that on ANYONE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh-kaaaayyyy. *opens Makemytrip in another tab to check flight availability and fares*

      Delete
  8. We piled into a car in Mumbai and surfaced 2 days later in Chennai. So yeah, foolish like that! We do drive to various places often.

    Your idea of leaving a few hours before their wake-up time is good. This has helped us many times.

    I take chocos; cut apples; sandwiches; juice cartons; curd rice (seriously). Thats what the child will deign to eat - messy or not. I have a couple of chocolates hidden away in case of emergencies. Sometimes I pack us lunch as well and we make a picnic of it somewhere, usually rushed but fun.

    There are 'rest stops' on some of the highways - not sure which one you will take - but maybe worth plotting visits to those out for some coffee, hot food, bathroom breaks. We once went into a Cafe Coffee Day that was right on the highway (the highway sucked obviously as a road, but amenities like this were useful !).

    Entertainment - these days its the ipad. Life begins and ends there. I don't allow her to read in a moving vehicle (though I used to do it myself for years!) but can't entirely prevent the games.

    Other - I try to take pillows and a sheet so she can make herself a fort in the back. On our very long trip, we just folded the seats down to create more space for her as well (nowadays we don't bother about it). If possible and safe in your car, this may be worth thinking about.

    Thats a lot of gyaan! Enjoy your trip - am sure it will be fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok, what is the deal with this reading in the car business? I let Ayaan do it, largely because it doesn't seem to make him nauseous like it does me. Is it bad for the eyes or something?

      Delete
    2. My eye doc doesn't think anything to do with reading or TV watching affects her eye power. But I am too convinced. She has sodabuddi glasses already and I managed to convince her once she got the glasses that she shouldn't read in the car. Has worked so far well for us so I am not going back on that one!

      Delete
    3. For me, I am happy with the quiet time his car reading gives me so unless someone gives me solid proof that it does harm, I am letting it be.

      Delete
  9. Hi,
    we regularly drive down to Kerala from Bangalore (10 hrs) with two kids and a dog :-). I personally love it!
    what works for us is starting super early , around 2 am or 3 am so that we cover a lot more distance when the kids are asleep. otherwise the endless questions of "did we reach yet?" can drive you mad!
    I normally take two bottles of milk, cheese slices, sandwiches and biscuits. loo stops are at the petrol bunks. Wet wipes for emergencies, lots of water and some audio books ( if they are interested). And some really good music!!!

    Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish our car was big enough to take our dog, Angel. That would have been so cool!

      Wet wipes! Thanks for that reminder though I usually have at least a small pack in my handbag.

      Delete
  10. Hey Ro! Sounds extremely exciting.... Waiting to do one road trip myself, but Deepak and I fight like dogs when it comes to getting behind the wheel, we both LOVE driving....needless to say.... on the highway....

    Haven't done Hyd / Blr so can't help there...

    Others, I can try:

    1. My kids don't really go thru motion sickness, but I anyway give them a dose of Ondem syrup before we leave. It helps.

    2. Sandwiches - chutney or jam or veg(avoid cheese and peanut butter for the fat factor that could churn their tummies), cupcakes, biscuits, closer to home.... idli always works for us.... with oodles of molaga podi..

    3. Car games - math and word games.... or good old music and sing alongs.... I now play story building with the kids and they have so much fun...

    http://www.kiducere.com/parents-speak/kids-fun-building-vocabulary/

    http://www.kiducere.com/parents-speak/games-while-traveling/

    4. Keep a bag of things you would need during the journey right inside the car, so you don't have to stop unless you need to use the loo...

    5. Give their own bags that they can access without your help.... containing these:
    - Sipper/straw/leak proof waterbottles.
    - Wipes / Sanitizer / Tissues
    - 1 set of change of clothes
    - A favourite book and a few toys (avoid cars - then you'll be hearing, Mamma my car fell down and rolled off under your seat, I need it now, now, now!)
    - Sickness bags

    Can't think of anything else for now! Have a fun trip, be safe, and post about the ride, with pictures!!!

    Grrr.... am a bit jealous though!!!





    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tips and the links!

      Delete
  11. Sorry but can offer no inputs! It is only best wishes that I can offer :)

    SO GOOD LUCK!

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  12. Rohini..... I personally believe it is bad for the eyes to read or even watch tv/monitor in a moving vehicle.... But that is just a personal opinion. Unlike movements due to the road surface and gear changing within city traffic, I guess a smooth highway wouldn't do much harm.... For me, it is long term habit and affecting eye-sight!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:19 am

      Agree with Sai above. Which is why my kids love traffic jams - so that they can continue reading!

      Chox (posting as anon as I am signed into another account)

      Delete
    2. Yeah, but is that really true or an old wives' tales? Nothing i googled seemed to suggest that reading in a moving vehicle can cause anything worse than nausea.

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    3. No idea Ro but it does make me nauseous, so assuming the same for them.
      In any case its okay to not read for a bit no?!

      Chox

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    4. Makes me nauseous too but it does not seem to bother him.

      Delete
  13. Hi Ro! Having done a few trips with the twins (yes, have kids - will travel, even if it kills us!), here's what I can share -
    1. Time a majority of the travel to coincide with their nap/sleep times
    2. Introduce a new, exciting toy on the trip, so the novelty of the toy would not have worn off, and will keep them occupied.
    3. Stop at places where there is a kids play structure/park if possible, that should get them to run around and burn some energy off, and nap longer
    4. Ziplock bags for barf attacks, my kids can puke on demand, so these bags come in handy, and I can just throw them away without stinking up the car with dirty rags/laundry
    5. Try to get them to play with/entertain each other, not sure how well that would work, in my case it works in bursts of 5 minutes, but sometimes that's all you need!
    Make sure there is a nice big bottle of wine awaiting you on arrival ( for you!)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ziplock bags are a great idea. Thanks!

      As for point 3, given that I have been told that cleans loos and decent food are hard to find, I am not holding my breath on stops with kids' play areas.

      Delete
  14. All the best for your road journey Ro, am sure it will go well. We take a lot of road trips, and what we found are:
    1. Mostly the kids will wake up when you put them in the car and strap them up, however early it is. Sometimes we're lucky and they'll go back to sleep in 1/2 an hour or so, and sometimes not. Be prepared to make a breakfast stop earlier than you had planned in case of the latter.

    2. Non messy foods for the kids are jam sandwiches (for S), cheese slices for A, bananas. If your kids like idli and jam that is also good. I don't given them too heavy a breakfast or lunch or too many snacks on the way as they can get quite puky. Lately I've started packing sandwiches and tamarind rice for me also because many of the highway places have terrible veg options. You might want to pack from sandwiches for yourself and Jai as well. carry water in the car for yourselves and the kids. Wet wipes also.

    3. Maybe keep Tarana in a diaper. If you want to drive non stop for a couple of hours and think there may not be any suitable places to stop on the way, it might be easier. They won't be able to control much at that age also.

    4. We play games like -guess the animal (you give 2-3 easy clues for an animal, like what is brown and swings from tree to tree and the kids have to guess. You can try more complicated ones for Ayaan and easier ones for Tarana. We usually take turns and the kids also have to give clues and we have to guess. This has now extended to vegetables game (guess the vegetable!) fruit game and snack game (you know we are a snacky family!). Also I spy - instead of starting with you can say you spy something of a particular colour which will make it easier for Tarana. Lately we also started making up and telling stories. We take turns in making up stories excluding Aditi of course!) S really loves this and can go on and on!

    5. I also keep the IPad and IPhone handy and in a 8 hour journey they end up spending about 2 hours totally on the IPad/Iphone playing the lego game, doing jigsaw puzzles, or listening to a story. I know its not great for the eyes but a couple of hours once in a while is ok and better than listening to them whine.

    Let us know how it goes!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ro! Great suggestions.

      Delete
  15. My two cents : carry a pack of garbage bags and a roll of kitchen towels in case of puking. More wet wipes than you think you will need. My son adores reading and it is the one thing that keeps him quiet but we have learnt the hard way that it makes him car sick. So now we try and stick to I- spy and sticker books, with maybe one book. I am not a fan if juice boxes in moving cars as my kids invariably spill some. Try and keep it for the rest stops. Or if you are giving them, take one sip first as otherwise there may be a gush out as over eager kiddy hands grab it.

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  16. That thing with the juice box ALWAYS happens. Taking a few sips before handing to them is a good idea. Thanks for your tips :-)

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  17. I am probably late in commenting, but I got a lot of tips from this lady http://www.funcheaporfree.com/2012/04/how-to-survive-12-hr-road-trip-with-two.html, who made a trip alone with 2 kids.

    I have a 2 year old and we recently made a 12 hr trip with her, some items on my lists were

    1. barf bag, very prone to motion sickness
    2. set of extra clothes and diaper
    3. colouring books, but the crayons kept falling down
    4. puzzles and games on my tablet.
    5. We sang nursery rhymes along the way, lot of story telling and I spy games with car colours etc.
    6. Food: Milk, cheese/ jam sandwiches, grapes, bananas and chocos are mostly mess free.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's ain't too late till the fat lady sings, or in this case, till we are loading up the car :o)

      Barf bag! That is an invaluable suggestion.

      Delete
  18. Just back from a 9-hr road trip from Bekal. Music most of the way - some old, some new. We also had some audio books.

    ReplyDelete