My wife and I just finished driving to California and back with our three boys. We live in the Eastern Time Zone, so this was a substantial road trip.
Why would anyone drive cross country with three little boys? Are we crazy?
We went to California for my sister-in-law’s wedding. The cost of flying the family there and then renting a minivan for several days was a big factor in the decision to drive.
Plus, we’re crazy.
Sane people would have gone into debt to fly. Probably. Honestly, I have no idea how sane people think.
Driving 5,000 miles (8,000 km) with a one-year-old, a three-year-old, and a seven-year-old was a fun adventure – the kind of fun that takes years off your life.
I’m older now, and wiser. It’s the kind of wisdom that’s only useful for those driving consecutive days with children, which is something, God willing, I will never have to do again. So, it may turn out to be useless wisdom; that would be the best case scenario.
In case any friends out there find themselves with such a daunting journey ahead of them, here are some nuggets of wisdom I learned on our trip:
- Nothing makes a preschooler have to pee more urgently than traveling a mile past a rest stop.
- Driving is often touted as a great way to see the country, but America all looks pretty much the same at night. The dashboard lights are the same everywhere.
- One-year-olds can be amazingly peaceful car passengers, for a little while.
- Speed limits are unnecessary if there are enough trucks on the road.
- A three-year-old and a seven-year old can fight over which movie to watch for longer than any movie lasts.
- Everyone knows “I’ll turn this car around and go home!” is an idle threat.
- To Daddy, “I’ll turn this car around and go home!” is a beautiful, forlorn daydream.
- The western states are too big. They should be divided up so kids don’t have to ask, “Are we still in Colorado?” 300 times.
- A seven-year-old + a third row seat + the Rocky Mountains = puke. It’s simple arithmetic.
- The rift between the McDonald’s and Wendy’s factions can tear a weary family apart for the duration of the highway break.
- Regardless of who won the restaurant debate, you’ll have an upset stomach for the next 200 miles.
- Sprint does not operate a single cell tower within the state of Nebraska.
- When the Garmin tells you your next turn is in 524 miles, you are someplace you don’t belong.
- Despite what seems like constant tumult, kids do actually sleep in the car. You realize this when, after arriving home at 7 a.m. and going straight to bed, the kids wake you up two hours later.
Driving across the US and back with small children is not for everyone. Rational, mature, reflective adults have no business attempting it. It’s a fool’s errand, and only we fools know how to do it right.
Excellent, Scott. Am so glad you survived to bring us this hard-earned wisdom….Love all those little nuggets you came up with. I was going to tell you which I liked best, but each one made me laugh harder than the one before!
My survival was touch-and-go for a while there, but I knew I had to live to spread the warning.
We drive to my mothers house in Virginia several times a year, and I consider it simple luck that we are all still alive to do it again. That’s 7 hours by car. You need to consult me before you do such silly things.
7 hours? Amateurs! We drive 12 hours at least once per summer. It turns out 40 hours is about 10 times longer than 12 hours.
Yup you’re crazy but..would you do it again? If so I might worry about you! lol
Not by choice. Maybe when the kids are old enough to be dropped off at the nearest Greyhound station.
Okay I don’t have to worry then.
Yes, we do the long travel thing with our two kids a few times now. The whole summer we’ll be gone, but it’s just a bunch of different western states. This past summer it was Oregon, ID, UT, AZ, NV. They have their own TVs (headphones) and a bunch of movies and video game.
HEY. YOU were in CA! That’s where we are – I can’t tell by the photos. Were you in Southern CA, Central or Northern? We are in Southern CA- Orange County (that’s Huntington Beach, Newport, Laguna, Dana Point, San Clemente) – the photos don’t look familiar. Are you in San Diego or LA?
Too bad, would have loved to meet up with a blogger pal! My kids love the beach!
Hope you had fun while here… weather didn’t disappoint- it’s been hot forever. Hope you were careful in the water. Due to the hotter weather, warmer water- we’ve had more shark issues lately. You can get a shirt “We went to California and all I got was this shirt and a shark bite.”
We were in LA and Santa Barbara. I would have loved to stop and visit but we were only there for a few days and our time was all spoken for. Sharks weren’t an issue because I don’t think anyone actually went fully into the water. And yes, it was hot.
My folks came up with a road game for my little brother and I; “who can be quiet the longest”. After 10 seconds my brother yells “I LOST”!
Scott you went through worse with less mature people….I was there.
Yeah, but I could leave those people behind after an eight-hour shift.
But I was so happy to see you all! So glad you survived
It was nice to see you again. It was also nice to survive.
OMG, I laughed all the way through this. Sadly, that’s very telling. And there went the laughter.
Keep right on laughing. I can laugh too, now that it’s over.
Thanks for the 8000 km reference…i really appreciate that Scott. I tried running for 3 miles last week in the states and almost died. did you know it is almost 8 km?
Riding in cars with boys is a much better movie than the title would suggests…
Seriously. 3 miles is like 65 km or something. You shouldn’t ever try to run in miles; it’s how we haze athletic foreigners.
I wouldn’t let the boys break out the hydraulic guns on the trip.
I’ve learned my lessons the hard way…
Travelling with kids takes stones. Flights are shorter but fraught with perils as well. Road trips are memory makers though.
Memory makers for sure. That smell of puke lingers with you for a long time.
Laughing so hard I am snorting and gasping for breath!! ARE YOU NUTS???? I KNOW how big those western states are. Like in forever! I think next time you will opt for going into debt then driving across the USA. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what your nerves, your poor nerves, are like even today. You have my every sympathy!!! ❤
I think I’ve finally stopped shaking. I’ll probably get my mind back (such as it is) in a couple weeks. Thanks for the sympathy, Amy.
You poor thing. We do sometimes learn the um hard way. Unfortuanately. My aunt and uncle took me cross country to the Rockies starting in NY and I was 13 at the time. I drove both NUTS with all my questions. I cannot even begin to fanthom what you went through. 😦
And you didn’t need a car seat. That’s a big difference.
Um true. 🙂
Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
There are reason why The Boffin and I only had one child, and we only do the drive from Chicago to the Philly area annually for Thanksgiving. That is my limit.
The Mrs. and you are braver souls than I am. I salute you both.
Discretion is the better part of valor . . . or maybe it’s birth control. Hard to say.