I Survived Spring Break, Part IV: The Long Road Trip Home

The road trip home after a week of complete family togetherness was, in a word, trying.

Maybe it was the weather (rainy).  Maybe it was the traffic (heavy).  Maybe it was the holiday (Easter weekend).  Maybe it was just that we were sick of being with each other and everyone was tired, grouchy and short-tempered.  Or maybe it was just me.


Joan Crawford would not have survived this car ride.

I was foolish to think the ride home would be like the ride down, but hind sight is 20/20.  I do take ownership of the fact that I set us up for failure … my inaction plus my bad mood and poor attitude was a recipe for disaster.  All I can do now is apologize and share my wisdom so that others don’t have to experience the torture that is the road trip home from a family vacation.

Rule #1 – Plan and act ahead.  Pack suitcases and load the car the night before.  Prepare sandwiches and fresh snacks.  Charge iPads and wireless headphones in advance.  Make reservations for brunch/dinner if traveling on a holiday.  Delegate.  Share the workload so it’s not all on you to get it done.  I did none of these things and as a result, it was a mess.  I was a mess.  Overwhelmed, stressed, tired and pissed off.  Not a good way to be before jumping into the car for a full day.

Rule #2 – Be flexible.  Traffic and weather are uncontrollable and can suck.  Deal with it.  If you follow Rule #1, it’s not so bad.  I didn’t follow Rule #1 (uncharacteristically and to my dismay), so it was bad.  For everyone involved.

Rule #3 – Limit liquids.  Staying hydrated is important, but it also means multiple bathroom stops.  Synching up pee time doesn’t work — it’s not like female roommates and their periods.  Despite telling kids to “just try,”  inevitably, someone will have to use the bathroom again 20 minutes after leaving a rest stop.  Immediately.  Luckily, we didn’t get any tickets for all the roadside urinating my boys did, but I may need to take them to a urologist.

Rule #4 – Don’t over-schedule, just get home.  Breaking up the drive into two days may be a good idea on the way to vacation, but not on the way back.  It’s for the best if you just go home.  We didn’t follow this rule either.  We over-promised.  We stopped in North Carolina to visit the UNC Chapel Hill campus (my boys love ACC sports) then continued on to  Richmond, VA where we toured the city and spent the night.  Yes, we got to meet up with some friends for dinner which was fun, but that meant we had to drive another 5+ hours the next day on Easter Sunday.  Can you say miserable?

Rule #5 – Breathe … and nap if necessary.  Talk about favorite memories from the week, sing or just tune everyone out for a bit.  Remember that the car ride will eventually end and you will eventually get home.  To your own bed.  To your own bathroom.  To your own laundry room where you’ll be for the next two days washing the vacation clothes.  And if that doesn’t work, do what I did — scream, bitch and vow never to take a road trip with your kids again.


Dinner with friends in Richmond was a treat.

Ok, that vow is unrealistic and irrational, I know.  Thankfully, our next road trip is a short, three-hour drive to New York to visit family.  Easy peasy … but wish me luck anyway!


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