Last month I got gutsy (read: desperate) and decided to drive the kids to Michigan for spring break.  This was the first time I’ve driven cross country with just me and the children, so I was quite nervous.  Thankfully we made it safely both there and back!

On the way north we had numerous “blowouts.”  Think: diapers rather than tires.  Among those two options I prefer a diaper blowout.  However, I did ‘tire’ of changing outfits and scrubbing seats in rest areas and gas stations!  I wonder what some of the passersby thought.  Nevermind, I don’t think I want to know after all.  On the way home from Michigan I got to clean up puke throughout Michigan and Indiana.  I know, you’re quite jealous of my exciting life.  The simple blowouts of the trip north suddenly seemed like a walk in the park!  It was a grueling trip; at one point I passed a large billboard that said, “Hell is real.”  I thought, “It’s in my van!”  Sigh.  It was a miserable trip, but perhaps the next time I drive the long drive will seem easy in comparison!

In case you are thinking of attempting a long trek like ours, let me share a few things I observed during the journey:

– Approximately two miles into the trip the children will be starved for the snacks you packed.
– The person who is the most comfortable in the van (ie not in a five-point harness or driving) will grumble a lot if he has to share a smidgen of his comfort.
– Good posture helps the back hurt less on long trips (I know, it’s like I’m a genius or something.)
– Watching kids reunite with their friends is awesome.
– One doesn’t pay much attention to mileage when driving with three children, so if the vehicle’s odometer turns to a hundred thousand miles, you might not notice for another two hundred.  You will, however, pay close attention to gasoline levels and how those levels correspond to children sleeping.
– When traveling with a toddler, pack extra clothes.  Lots.  And then pack some more.
– Truck stops/travel centers carry heavy shop towels and extra baby wipes.  Although they are expensive, they are worth every single penny.
– Gas stations are EXTREMELY bright at night.  While this is excellent for safety, it is not helpful for keeping children asleep.
– When driving at night Pandora will play approximately 15 seconds of each song before stopping and loading a commercial or another song.  This is less than helpful when you’d like to listen to music to help you stay awake.  However, when driving during the day Pandora will work almost continuously.
– Kentucky is very pretty to drive through in the morning.
– Unplug your hotel phone. Why anyone would call at 4:53 am is beyond me, but after traveling with a sick toddler and finally collapsing into bed very late, I have no interest in finding out who or why they are calling.
– Children who hardly use blankets at home will fight relentlessly about having to share one in a hotel room.
– One doesn’t get much sleep when sharing a bed with a sick toddler.
– One can drive a ridiculous amount of miles on very little sleep, however this is not recommended.
– Caffeine is wonderful.  Coffee shops should be required at every exit and rest area.  Gas station coffee does not count.
– Alabama scenery can get very green and lush when you’re gone for a week.
– Naps are not overrated.
– Children do not understand why momma wants to sit after driving a billion hours.
– Kids arriving home after a long trip have a ton of energy. They also have lots of giggles. The toys at home even seem new again (briefly).
– The house can get very dirty when momma is gone for a week.
– Children may need help understanding why the back of the van should not be used as a trash can
– Cleaning up puke in at home doesn’t seem so bad when you remember it is not in a van, in someone else’s house, in a hotel lobby, or in a gas station.
After we were home we asked S, “what was your favorite part of the Michigan trip?”  He responded, “bugging K.”  Annoying his sister was his favorite thing of this entire excursion!
Me, “you could have done that in Alabama!”
S responded, “There were so many new ways to do it on the trip.”
(Gee, I’m so glad I drove 29 hours round-trip so he could have new ways to bug his sister.)  Later S added this was actually his second favorite thing; his first favorite was seeing his friend C while we were in Michigan.  I felt a little better.  And I’m so glad they were able to see each other.
K responded to the same question, “Staying at Grandma’s house.”  Awww.  Surprisingly it wasn’t, “having new ways to be tortured by my brother.”  Go figure.
In summary:
– Mommas can survive much, even if they don’t want to.   Praying and caring friends and family help a lot.
– If your child seems like they might possibly be sick, be it with nausea, a stuffy nose, or a hangnail, don’t travel.
– Seeing friends and family is priceless.

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