Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Road Trip...Fail!

I love road trips.  Prior to having kids there was nothing better than throwing on a great playlist (or mix tape) and being trapped in a car with John for hours (he is my favorite person).  It was a great way to reconnect and escape.  As a mom, I still love the concept of a road trip because it is potentially an easy way to travel with kids.  We spent a long weekend at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont...way up in the Northeast Kingdom not far from Montreal.  It takes us on average 8 hours to drive from New York to this northernmost part of the Northeast Kingdom.

I have made the trek up to this part of Vermont almost every year, at least once, for the past 30 years.  I honestly don't know why I keep perpetuating this insanity only to say for nostalgia.  Albeit the middle of nowhere isn't bad for a getaway once in a while and in the winter they do have the best ski conditions.  We have made this trip for about six years with the kids...through blizzard conditions, through the dark of night, through extended vomit sessions, and through ridiculous traffic.  One trip even included a broken down vehicle in the middle of the mountains, in cold temps, with two small children and no cell service!

We travel 8 hours because it is a cheap place to stay
My Dad owns a slopeside condo!

We travel 8 hours because it is pretty...
despite the looming storm cloud
We travel 8 hours because they have a fun water park
We spent 7 hours there on Friday.
Some people like to go on the Flow Rider....NOT me!

This time it took us a tad over 9 hours to get here. I blame the great state of Connecticut.  They get a giant WTF in my book.  There was approximately 30 miles of traffic in that state.  Worse than New York or New Jersey.  Possibly worse than New York and New Jersey combined!
Freakin' Typical.  However, this IS
NY traffic.

This was NINE hours of huffing, puffing, arm crossing, tattling, pinching, slapping (J and I did NONE of the slapping), whining, crying, and then finally when J and I couldn't take anymore...there was peeing! Honestly, at this point we were just happy it wasn't puke because no Newman Family Vacation is complete without PUKE!
Also Typical!
NOT Typical...
This happened for 7 minutes (literally!).

On a number of occasions I was going to beg J to let me off on the side of the road.  Figuring staring down a nefarious highway man seemed like a more pleasurable experience than being trapped for another second with The A Team.

Why was this particular road trip such an epic fail?  It seemed far worse than any other road trip we have taken (unless God has been good to me and let me forget).  It was so bad I had to do a post-mortem and come up with solutions.

Here is my analysis of where we went wrong:
  1. I was completely disorganized going into this trip due to a frenetic weekend and my dad having surgery.  I packed the morning of the trip and was already wiped out.  I mean EPIC, EPIC Fail!
  2. Then I was too wiped out to even engage these kids for nine hours.  I just wanted time to decompress.  Ha!
  3. This was the first road trip in the new family roadster.  This new vehicle is not equipped (yet!) with a DVD player.
  4. The night before I asked the kids to pack up a travel bag.  They didn't and I haphazardly threw one together the morning of the trip.
  5. They hardly slept at all on the way up.  They don't usually sleep but I forgot their car blankets and pillows.  Yup, FAIL!
  6. The littlest A pretty much cried the entire vacation and much of the car ride.  She is the Princess and the Pea.  The complaints were endless.
We have a summer of adventures that lie ahead.  We even have a few fall trips planned.  This gives me a lot of opportunities to turn failure into success.  I have done my research.  Here is what I would do differently:
  1. Be honest with my expectations.  John and I both need to do a better job at accepting that our life is ever evolving.  Road trips aren't what they used to be.  Vacations aren't what they used to be.  With kids no two experiences are the same even if it is the same road trip taken for years. 
  2. Plan better.  This was my epic fail and I take full responsibility for it.  This includes being mindful of where my kids are in the lives/interests. I am a total Type A personality... controlling, planning, organizing. I admit it, my schedule leading up to this trip was too frenetic and I failed to plan.  Planning better will not only ensure we have everything we need, it will put me in a mindset to better handle the travel stresses.
  3. Learn to enjoy the journey.  In most things in my life I am a destination girl.  Here is where I can learn something from my training.  I LOVE training.  I am OK with racing.  I train a lot but race judiciously.  A great example of enjoying the journey and not the destination.
  4. Include the kids in my planning.  I am a list person.  My kids often have laminated checklists to guide them through the more challenging parts of their day like getting ready in the morning.  One of our next projects will be to put together their own travel checklists complete with artwork and lamination!
  5. Audio Books! A number of sites/blogs suggested this.  I never thought of an audio book and it is a great idea!  I have used audio books during mandated quiet time when they were starting to outgrow their naps.   
  6. Enhanced Travel Bags. Some great ideas from the sites below were travel bingo, a map, pipe cleaners for twisty fun, mad libs.  I have also decided I am going to pack these bags and keep them in the car always! No matter how long or short the car ride.
  7. Mile or Hour Countdown.  Give the kids a visual aid to help them countdown the miles, minutes or hours depending on what is appropriate for the trip.  One of these sites recommended tickets.  I can be creative and figure something out.  This would work well for my kids, they are visual.
After a quick Google search I realized that I didn't factor in something integral.  I am not traveling with babies/toddlers anymore.   Check out some of these helpful sites/posts:
  1. Smart Travel: 24 Mom Tested Tips for Road Trips with Kids on Babble
  2. Road Trip Survival Guide: Don't leave home without our kid friendly tips on Babycenter
  3. 101 Car Travel Games and Road Trip Games for Kids on
  4. AND Pinterest for the WIN...lots of good stuff if you search road trips with kids like this board.
  5. Found this blog interesting: The Traveling Praters
For the record, this blog isn't going to highlight all of our happy moments.  That just isn't real life.  John and I are always honest and "keep it real" people.  We accept our failures (it may take some time), we analyze them, and we learn from them.  Now that our analysis is done, I am looking forward to the next trip!

OK, please tell us your tips and tricks for road trips with kids? What has worked? What are some good road trips you have taken?  Share, share share so we can all learn!

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  1. Great post! As much as i want another baby, i have decided that one the perks of only having one is we can fly most places so sadly, i don't have much except, i normally will take away electronics from my son (no tv, ipad, kindle, ds) for 3 days before a trip so he is glued to it once we get into the car.

    1. Thanks Nicole. I had to turn my pity party into something actionable. I am looking forward to trying some of the tips I found. The removal of electronics is a good idea.