Since our son was born three years ago, our family has taken two big road trips. Prior to these road trips, the furthest I had traveled was from Oklahoma to Missouri.
The first big trip we made as a family was from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis. It was a business trip for my husband, and I wasn’t about to be left alone with a little one for a week by myself if we could turn it into a family vacation.
The second major trip we made was from Oklahoma City to Fort Wayne Indiana. This was by far the longest trip we have ever taken, so long we had to stop and stay the night in various places going to and from.
Both trips featured long hours in the car with a toddler and, as you might imagine, hijinks ensued.
Here are a few of the things we learned along the way…
#1 – Musical tastes may vary
My husband and I have vastly differing tastes in music. I like country, hip-hop, pop, and whatever is on the radio. He likes rock, alternative rock, and Lord of the Rings soundtracks.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that the vast majority of energy on the road is spent deciding what we will listen to. We usually defer to the driver as to what we listen to, but since I like driving, that generally means I pick. My husband can only tolerate so many hours of Enrique Iglesias and Disney throwbacks before he starts to lose it.
On the plus side, our toddler got to see us *try* to share the stereo. And my husband has charming ways of telling me he has had enough, like incorrectly singing the lyrics to Body Like a Backroad as “Body Like a Backhoe.”
#2 – Road rage
They say you haven’t really learned who a person is until you see them use a slow computer. But I am here to tell you, the truest test of a person’s character is to witness them in a traffic jam or in the few seconds after having been cut off.
On the road, my husband is basically a saint, and me? Well, I think I would aptly be described as the Hulk. Especially when stopped by a train at midnight in a strange city.
#3 – Potty breaks are important
When traveling at all, but especially with a baby, potty breaks are essential. Don’t try to skip them to save time.
Everyone really has to go to the bathroom whether they are vocal about it or not. They also need snacks, and to walk so they can get feeling in their butt again.
#4 – Personal growth and reflection
Hours and hours on end in the car with each other can provide you with the incentive you need to reflect on life.
Especially on the trip back when you are processing the events that happened. This was the case on both of the road trips we took.
Being confined together has a way of making you talk to each other, even when you didn’t realize you had things you needed to talk about.
#5 – Confronting mortality
On the way to and from Minneapolis, we saw multiple grotesque wrecks with fatalities. In one instance, a car was bursting into flames as we passed by in the furthest lane away from it. Things like that have a way of focusing your attention on the fragility of life and what really matters.
Road trips for our family are a mixed bag of comedy and severity, but they always serve to help us take a step back from the day to day. On the other side of it, we are thankful for the adventures we had and the perspective we gained. And way more than grateful to have the ability to get back to our regularly scheduled individual playlists!