It glared at me – 21 hours, 20 minutes of total drive time. Increase that by at least 30% when you add in a three year old, a 10 month old and a dog. ARE WE … CRAZY?!
Short answer, yes. But you do what you need to do. In this case, my little family moved back to Minneapolis after an eight month stint in Boston. We decided to drive back and make it a “road trip adventure” (my attempt at getting the troops excited, only worked on the baby, who we all know had no idea anyway). It was too late to buy plane tickets by the time I started panicking. So we went all in and just started driving.
My partner and I aren’t meticulous planners and we didn’t know exactly how long we would drive each day or where we were going to stay each night. This would make my friend, Gina, full-on freak out, but we operate best on-the-fly. It allows for unexpected adventures. Or at least that’s what we were banking on. And it worked! I don’t necessarily recommend this mode of travel very often, but when it’s necessary, here are some things we learned that might help you, too.
1) Camping anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon in April is risky. That was our plan for two nights, but we scrapped it when we were driving through snow around the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Instead, we glamped in this little gem of a cabin. Unforeseen adventure, check!
2) Allow your spouse to wear headphones sometimes. And vice versa. It’s a really nice break from each other and whatever may be going on behind you.
3) Give up on most of your rules. Being quiet while the baby is sleeping is impossible and eating only healthy food might be more impossible. Do your best and try to keep your cool. No one thinks it’s awesome to be trapped in the car so give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Especially your kids.
4) If you have framily (friends like family) along the route and realize “hey, maybe we can stay with them tonight” – do it. It’s nice to stay in an actual house and let your kids be totally free. Even if it means this is your longest day of driving (10.5 hours), it will be very worth it to spread out and have human contact that’s not just the toll booth attendant.
5) Make the last night of your trip awesome. This gives everyone something to look forward to and you get to end with fun. We stayed in Wisconsin Dells and water parked it up for an afternoon and the next morning. Then, by the time we rolled into Minneapolis, everyone was tired and quite happy!
So I wish you luck if you have a long, long, when-will-we-be-there-for-real road trip ahead of you. From one mother to another, it can be done.