Road trips used to be my preferred way to travel. In fact, I loved them so much I even had a job in Admissions, that put me out over the road for about 6-8 weeks at a time. I LOVED IT! Note the past tense here. Road trips were awesome, until I had children that is. I love my girls more than anything in this world, yes, even coffee; but they have obliterated my passion for the open road. It was right around the time Madz was 18 months old, I began to feel differently and if ever there was a second thought, that maybe I might just have it in me…well, then there was my trip home a few weeks ago that absolutely sealed.the.deal.
Packing the car, the bags, the snacks, the entertainment all of this for a single trip. Typically planning, prepping, and hitting the road is exciting. Well, when I went to VT just getting on the road was a process. I had contemplated for the long time drive v. fly (well, for me this is a no brainer flying is WAY worse for me; two words: existential angst) but financially it made much more sense to drive with the girls. The money from not having daycare for the week alone, made up for the cost of the rental, which I had booked on Priceline so upfront the cost was much less. However, the local rental company I endorsed, was terrible and although I was being a bit of a PITA I reinforce my right as a paying and apologetic customer for “any additional hassle” for you to do your job with pleasantries. In the end I’m still (10 days later) waiting on the final outcome of cost, which hopefully will pan out as I was “guaranteed” it would. Would I book online through a third-party again? Yes. But a few things to be learned. First, there really is zero flexibility with third-party vendors so your plans cannot be changed. Book carefully and confidently. Second, stick to your guns. Don’t let them up-sell you and (third) read the fine print! The woman tried to charge me for specifics I repeatedly denied, she thought I wouldn’t notice. Sorry, lady but not me however I commend your sales efforts and reply with only the most genuine of southern hospitalities… “bless your heart.”
As for the trip itself, here are the tips I noted and learned on my 14 hr trek up to the NEK:
1. Invest in an E-Z pass. Tolls are getting higher and higher! Plan your route and if you don’t have this pass check out the free website Toll Fare Calculator to plan accordingly. It’s much better to plan ahead then hold up a NJ Turnpike toll for 3.5 minutes as they write you a ticket. To all the motorists I held up on 7/16 around 10p …Sorry!!
2. Pack your meals ahead of time. Cheese sticks, fruit, flavored water, individual snack packs and lunchables not only made the girls excited to snack in the car but it wasn’t hugely unhealthy as I feel like we would have been going through drive thrus or gas stations. We actually didn’t have to stop for any food on our way. Yes, we did have to get out a stretch and an Old McDonald’s Play Place was of great use but the girls had already eaten so I grabbed an ice coffee after they played and ran off some energy and we were back on the road.
3. Get some fresh air! The girls loved having the windows down and the wind blowing in their hair 🙂 It kept the positive vibe going , gas costs down, and the driver wide awake!
4. Make a pit stop. If there is one thing I have learned from many road trips both with and without kiddos it’s that I can no longer hop in the car and go for 12 hrs and expect to make it to my destination. They need a break and mentally so do I. We booked, in advance, a stop in NJ for the night and in the am my Step-mom aka. Grandma-Jill and my niece were our travel buddies for the last 5 hrs but more importantly, we really needed her place to stop and rest for a night. Also, its good to think ahead all the cities you’ll be traveling through to establish if there is anyone within reasonable driving distance that you can call either in an emergency on the curbside or to meet for dinner and/or a driving break.
5. Last but not least, cherish the time and appreciate the craze. I remember how quick it always seemed to take getting home then getting to our destination wherever we went when I was growing up. To me, this is completely opposite when you are an adult traveling with children. You cannot get home fast enough. They need out, you need out; quite frankly this “vacation” just needs to end because you are screaming to get back to the office and some sense of normalcy. The road home, in either regard is a long one, but nonetheless it’s an incredibly memorable one and I wouldn’t trade the road trip with me and my little ladies for anything. Yes, we missed B- dearly but I’m so grateful (even in the screaming) to have had such special girl time that even if they don’t remember…
I always will. ox