Top 5 Unconventional Tricks for a Road-trip
Updated: Jan 24
Recently we made the trek from North Carolina to Florida to spend our Thanksgiving holiday with family. A mom, a dad, a diva, a princess, a baby, and 12-hours of a 'fun-filled' family adventure. We survived and with only one meltdown (on Dads’ part).
1. Paper towels: at first thought this may seem obvious or redundant, but when you’re in an enclosed space with 3-kids (and a husband) for 12-hours, sometimes wipes DO NOT cut it. It wasn’t 8 seconds into our journey from Chapel Hill to Orlando that Ryan spilled ⅓ of his freshly brewed Dunkin Donuts coffee all over himself. Insert: paper towels. PLUS, the wipes would certainly be a valuable commodity for the long haul now that Rory was eating solid foods...
Luckily, this most recent excursion did not have any incidents involving the reappearance of previously digested foods (but it has happened). Such an incident would also be an excellent use of paper towels and sparing of precious wipes. Quite simply, paper towels are a MUST for any road trip. Kids and husbands are unpredictable (and messy).
2. Trash bags: this plays off of item #1 but it cannot be stressed enough. When packing for a long drive, one of the ESSENTIALS is always #allthesnacks and with that comes #allthegarbage. At any given moment you could prepare a meal for 1-2 children from the contents of the leftover food inside of our fam minivan. But 12-hours knee deep among such a disaster is unacceptable. (And the mere fantasy of children picking up after themselves with each stop?? Forget it.)
3. Fueling up with each stop, REGARDLESS if you actually need gas or not. This my friends, is the MacDaddy of them all. The appearance of that little orange gas light will crush all of your hopes and dreams. Every. Single. Time. When we travel, we don’t mess around. We stop for bathrooms and coffee (which inevitably leads to more bathroom breaks). And with a 1-year old who detests anything and everything about being restrained, we HAVE to maximize the time that he naps. Because the second that the van is no longer in motion, his eyes pop open and it’s game over. Same with the girls: if they fall asleep, it’s full steam ahead until someone is on the brink of a raging UTI.
So, stopping to fill up after one of the three kids has JUST drifted off to nap land, not happening. Whether we’re stopping for Starbucks, a bathroom break, or to grab a quick bite, we ALWAYS top off the gas tank. Nothing will kill your momentum more than frequent stops or worse, tiny irritable humans who are aroused too soon.
4. Headphones (for the driver, aka Dad) I spent a generous portion of the drive in the second row attempting to comfort our wildly active and agitated son. This is turn meant that Ryan also spent a great deal of time riding solo, staring at the road ahead. Being naive to the situation (and Aviana’s known dictatorship of the radio) he would attempt to tune into ESPN radio from time to time. Yet, this would immediately result in a ridiculous outburst as she did not want to listen to 'football.'
Fortunately for Ryan, one of few items he packed for the actual road trip portion was indeed, headphones. Bottom line: the last minute decision to pack headphones was the single BEST decision Ryan Graves made in 2018.
5. ALWAYS check the name on the Starbucks cup to confirm that it is in fact YOUR name. At exactly 3:43 PM (7-hours into our adventure), we had decided that we were going to muscle through and complete the remainder of the drive to Orlando. We had contemplated staying overnight in northern Florida, but once we made it to Savannah in good time and in good spirits, we made the call. We were going for it. And with that, we would DEFINITELY need Starbucks.
So, after fueling up, coffee was the next item on the agenda. Per usual, there were 8-million other people also seeking a mid-afternoon caffeine fix. Ryan and I took turns taking the kids to the bathroom while waiting in line and ordering our highly anticipated beverages: a Cold Foam Brew for myself and Americano for Ryan. After wrestling 3-kids (while Ryan did God knows what outside, alone and in peace) in a congested space for what seemed like an eternity, they finally called, 'Ryan.' I grabbed the freshly crafted coffees and made a quick exit. After all, we had places to go (and escape from). Once everyone was back into their appropriate restraints, it was time to get moving.
The smell of strong caffeine filled the van and we were all gleaming with optimism. All of us except Ryan.
Approximately 12-seconds after exiting the Starbucks driveway and turning onto a very busy one-way highway, it was then that Ryan's beverage first hit his lips and he realized that his beloved drink was in fact, not his. It was instead some sort of sugary seasonal latte. (Ryan despises sweetener in his coffee. Ryan also hates wasting time.)
This provoked an enormous eruption of frustration. Quite frankly, he was irate. We still had a significant drive ahead of us and now it was either a) suffer through an incorrect beverage or b) turn around and go reclaim what was his. With Americano dreams still fresh on his mind, he whipped the van around at the first median and raced thru traffic, turning on one wheel back into the Starbucks lot as he RAN back inside to retrieve his $4.29 Americano. With everyone satisfied, we were off (again!). Caffeine, check. Headphones, check. Next stop, Orlando!