2,400 Miles. 3 Kids in Tow. 1 Epic Road Trip.


Our family recently took a Spring Break road trip -- driving over 1,200 miles from Pennsylvania to Florida, and then over 1,200 miles back again, only to get walloped with an epic Pennsylvanian snowfall upon our return.  This juxtaposition seems both ironic and somehow fitting.  I mean, who doesn't want to spend one day vacuuming sand out of your minivan, and the next day shoveling your driveway so you can pull that minivan out of your garage?

It was a glorious trip, even with its small hiccups along the way.  Plus, you have time to reflect when you have that much distance to cover.  For example, once again I was amazed that strategic road trip bribery is effective, even though it's definitely not my typical parenting style.  Here are a few other observations from our travels:

The original adage is wrong.  The journey of a thousand miles actually begins with a child asking, "Are we there yet?" 

When your spouse packs a can of Lysol spray and a container of Lysol wipes and stores them in the cup holders, the exact place where you want to store your bottles of iced tea and water, do not question whether Lysol products are necessary to take on a road trip.  Do not think about hiding them away.  They are essential.

At least, they were for us when one child announced that her stomach hurt a mere 30 seconds before vomiting across the backseat as we were driving 75 miles per hour on a dark and congested stretch of highway.  (Yes, this was as exciting as it sounds.) 

But, we had Lysol handy.  Always pack the Lysol.

You'll take inordinate pleasure when you find a license plate from a new state.  On our drive home alone, we discovered plates from 40 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  (Shout out to Ontario, Qubec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick!  You, my friends to the north, are the true road-tripping heroes.) 

During your license plate search, you'll realize that you haven't given this much thought to US geography since elementary school.  Incidentally, you'll also notice that no states begin with the letters B, E, J, Q, X, Y, or Z,  so you'll feel prepared if you ever get asked this question in a trivia game.

You'll eventually get in the driving zone and it will be so surprising, so shocking, that you won't want to do anything -- no talking, no glancing in the rear view mirror, no fumbling with the bag that's crowding your feet -- because you recognize it's a holy moment.  Nobody needs to use the restroom.  Nobody is hungry.  Nobody is cold or hot or complaining that the sun is too bright, or that their sister looked at them funny, or that it's their turn to have some device that will low on batteries and missing its power cord.

The miles pass, and you feel like you could drive forever -- which, you reason to yourself quietly, is good, because you are driving forever -- and it reminds you of the rare times when you've run and felt like you could run forever, which happens so infrequently that it also deserves a moment of silence, because most other times during a run you feel every step and are tempted to check your watch or the treadmill screen every few seconds.

But no, you're driving, and miles are adding up, and all is right with the world, and don't dare to breathe and offset the hushed glory.  You remain silent and awestuck, like you would if you encountered an albino deer or a snow leopard in the wild or witnessed the Northern Lights.

That zone will last roughly 25 minutes.  Then you're back in the fray. 

It's worth it.  When you finally arrive at your destination and stretch your legs, you'll forget the 19 hours of minivan confinement.  You'll forget the vomiting episode and the three bathroom breaks in a span of under two hours because one child chugged an entire bottle of Gatorade.  The excitement will counterbalance the road-weariness, and the roadside challenges will turn into good stories, and the trip will finally have begun.  You have arrived.  You made it.

Yes, a road trip is always worth it.


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