Flashback Friday: The 5 Stages of a Family Roadtrip

by Abby on March 9, 2012

Volvo XC90This weekend we are headed north to celebrate my MIL’s 70th birthday. That’s about the only thing that could get me to agree to drive 14+ hours round-trip with 2 small children in 3 days. That, and the fact that the lovely folks at Koons Automotive have loaned us a brand-new Volvo XC90 for the trip. (More on that later.) In the meantime, wish us luck and enjoy this post from my archives!

The 5 Stages of a Family Roadtrip

You know how you feel the morning after a wild night of partying? (Think waaaay back, now.) You can’t believe how stupid you were to drink that much and stay out that late and boy, are you paying for it with a hangover from hell. You swear you will never again do something so foolish.

Well, I feel the same way after each trip to visit my extended family.

C. and I live 6 states away from our parents. The 7-hour drive has never been a picnic, but add 2 kids and an extra half-dozen stops along the way and it becomes a NIGHTMARE. Literally. The night before we leave I toss and turn dreaming of all the horrible accidents and traffic jams and germy rest stops and screaming meltdowns the trip might bring.

In fact, we’ve only attempted it one other time since Riley was born. But my FIL is turning 70 and, well, that seemed like a good enough reason to try it again. During the long, long, LONG drive, I had time to reflect on the 5 stages of a family roadtrip:

1) Anticipation. It will be good to see everyone. They won’t believe how much the kids have grown. And Riley HAS become a much better baby the older he’s gotten. He doesn’t scream or throw up nearly as often. Plus, Miles is SO looking forward to seeing his grandparents and cousins. Maybe the trip won’t be so bad.

2) Excitement. Off we go! The car is packed with snacks, drinks, toys, music, and plenty of DVDs for the portable player. The kids are in good moods, everyone’s healthy and moderately well-rested, and the sun is shining. This is actually kind of fun.

3) Irritation. The sun glare is unbearable. The brakes are making a weird crunching noise. And if I have to listen to another one of my husband’s skull-jarring rock bands or insipid kids’ CDs I will SCREAM. Wait? What? A 5-mile backup due to construction?! Are you freaking KIDDING me?!

4) Giddiness. Who WERE those people who said, “The kids will probably sleep the whole way”? Not in my world. My 3 y.o. is kicking my seat and shouting nonsensical phrases over and over — “Take a glance at Mr. Pants!” And my poor, overtired 1 y.o. is giggling hysterically. His laugh IS really cute, though…

5) Recovery. 8 hours after we began our journey, we stumble into the house in a wave of snack wrappers, empty coffee cups, coloring books, and dirty laundry. We immediately split off in different directions, some of us collapsing on the couch, some of us sprinting deliriously around the house. We made it. We survived. We will never — I repeat, NEVER – attempt that hellish trip again, so help me GPS.

At least, not until the next important family occasion.

QUOTE O’ THE DAY: Miles: “We should take a plane.” Dad (driving): “Why?” Miles: “Because the plane knows how to get there.”

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebekah March 9, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hilarious! I’m 25 years old and I remember LONG road trips with my parents and younger sister to visit my grandparents (we lived in Georgia, our grandparents lived in New Jersey). Looking back now, I don’t know how my parents tolerated us. And I totally understand why they threatened us with “We’ll turn this car around RIGHT NOW and go back home.”

My sister and I must have drove our parents crazy with all of our demands – Turn the music up! I’m too hot! I’m hungry! She’s touching me! Are we there yet? I have to go to the bathroom! The music’s too loud! I’m cold!

I could go on forever, but I will say that my parents were HUGE fans of “the quiet game.”

Have fun on your trip!


Abby March 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

It’s like you have our car bugged. 🙂


Holly from 300 Pounds Down March 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

When we left Alaska, we had to travel in a Suburban with 4 kids (2 in diapers), 2 dogs (both labs) and a guinea pig. I felt like that song …and a partridge in a pear tree. All I can say is thank goodness half them could read which kept them somewhat occupied and we had a DVD player in the car. It took us 2 weeks total driving across the country and there were admittedly moments I wanted to say “Could you just pull over..I’ll walk”…At moments I didn’t even care if we were in the middle of British Columbia and I would be walking the next 30 million miles alone. lol. But we made it!! And I have to say we have many moments from that trip we will probably never stop talking about. But I feel for you!!


Abby March 9, 2012 at 11:36 am

OMG, I think the animals would put me over the edge. The 4-legged kind, I mean. 😉


Lisa March 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Books on CD have saved my life. No fighting over the DVD player. No annoying kids songs. No hurling from trying to read/play video games. All three of my boys sit quietly and listen, even the toddler. I recommend the Ramona books. I enjoy them, too! Have a safe trip.


Abby March 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Yes! You are so right. We got some for this trip and it made all the difference. I’ll have to try the Ramona books, thanks!


Frume Sarah March 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

It wasn’t until I began to take our kids on a road trip each summer (en route to Jew Camp) that I truly appreciated the efforts my parents made to provide us with great driving trips…without leaving any of us by the side of the road.


Abby March 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Ha! I know. I have a new appreciation for my parents now, too.


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