No matter how well you prepare for the family road-trip, approximately 36 hours in you will find yourself imagining the news headline “Foul Play on I-40: Youngish mother snaps after husband takes his last break from yelling at radio baseball announcers to request another Mountain Dew from backseat cooler.” Life on the road can get ugly quickly, especially for amateurs like myself.
Growing up my husband and his family spent their vacations on road-trips all over the United States, visiting relatives and national parks, meanwhile, my family was traveling an hour to the beach and pouring out of the car like crazed circus clowns trapped for a week. I don’t come from road-trip people but I married into a family of drivers and I’m trying to embrace the road. If your young family sees a future of vacations darting across the country, I have 10 lessons that I learned on our recent trip to California and Utah which might make your next long drive with small children a magical memory rather than a sad story ending in boarding school, divorce, or muuuuuurder…
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Lesson 1 1 of 10Do get off to a great start and have your nasty mini-van car detailed before you leave.
Don't be sad when it looks like it has been ravaged by chimpanzees within hours.
Lesson 2 2 of 10Do let the kids pick out a little trinket or snack every time you stop for gas.
Don't let them pick chocolate ice cream the first stop of a 2 week road-trip.
Lesson 3 3 of 10Do leave enough room in the car for comfort and goodies you acquire along the way.
Don't be surprised when your wife decides that gives you enough space for a freaking enormous inflatable whale dubbed Blueberry Head
Lesson 4 4 of 10Do dress your entire family in clothing you are willing to abandon in a gas station dumpster in West Texas.
Don't forget to bring Ziplock bags of every size to contain bio-hazards.
Lesson 5 5 of 10Do embrace the power of digital devices to amuse a trapped toddler.
Don't convince yourself that his masterful Toca Doctor skills are an indication that he will be a brilliant brain surgeon.
Lesson 6 6 of 10Do stop at a grocery store in the morning to stock up on healthy eats like cut veggies and milk.
Don't forget a bottle of Febreze to mask the crap out of the banana peel and curdled cream stench emitting from every surface.
Lesson 7 7 of 10Do bring dry shampoo keep your unwashed filth a secret.
Don't miss your head and spray your dress on your way out the door to a wedding.
Lesson 8 8 of 10Do bring loose clothes and Spanx to hide the bloat of fast food diet
Don't leave your Spanx out to dry where your husband will find them and look at them like they are a girdle. Dude, just give that to me right now.
Lesson 9 9 of 10Do pack a basic first aid kit including pain relief medication.
By pain relief medication, I mean beer.
Lesson 10 10 of 10Do stop and take in the quirky offerings of the roadside tourist trap.
Don't be a tyrant just because you are driving. Seriously, you are not being fun right now.
Jacinda Boneau is a fabric designer and founding co-editor at Prudent Baby, the premier DIY destination for crafty moms seeking ways to make their lives even more stylish and beautiful. She can also be found on Babble’s the New Home Ec.