September 23, 2017

Can I Handle a Family Road Trip on My Own?

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road tripI’ve been thinking a lot about taking my four kids on a cross-country road trip this summer, as in from Washington, DC (where we live) to California and back. It’s a long way to drive and my husband could only be with us for half the trip, which means that it would just be me and the kids for two to three weeks.

I’ve taken two of the kids on vacation by myself. Two years ago, we went to Vienna and Prague for 10 days, just the three of us. No problems. We also did a Florida Keys trek just the three of us. The thought of being alone with four kids, not just two kids, doesn’t scare me, but it does put a lot of questions in my head. Here are the most recent five questions, along with answers that have helped ease my mind (maybe you’ve dealt with some of the same questions).

1. What if the minivan breaks down?
Valid concern. So, I imagine I’ll want to get the minivan completely checked out at an auto shop before we leave the driveway to fix any possible issues. What if the car still breaks down? We belong to AAA, so we should be able to get a tow no problem. Another idea: Urgent.ly. It’s a new app that sets you up with roadside assistance on the fly whether you have a flat tire or you’re locked out of your car.

2. What if the accommodations I’ve booked are just not going to work out?
It’s impossible to tell just how good (or not so good) a hotel, campground or vacation rental will be once you arrive. If it’s really just not up to par, talk to the manager and re-book in somewhere else. We did this in New York a few years ago after finding out our room was on a dusty floor undergoing renovation. Ick. I pulled up the Expedia app on my iPhone and I had a new room at another hotel in minutes.

3. What if one of my kids gets carsick?
Okay, this is a given. My 11-year-old gets sick every time we’re driving in the car for at least one hour. On Today.com, they recently tackled the topic and suggested keeping gallon-size Ziploc bags in the car to easily catch and toss what comes out of a carsick kid. Also, smell lemon slices, peppermint, even a potato to alleviate nausea. Sea Bands and full tummies are other good ways to keep carsickness at bay.

4. What if all the driving is more than I can handle?
I’ll be honest, driving can make me sleepy, and that’s not good. I try to read, but I usually fall asleep when it’s my husband’s turn to drive. So, what do I do when it’s just me? Clearly, catch up on sleep before the trip and don’t set up a go-go-go schedule that requires driving six or more hours a day, every day. Take time to enjoy the scenery and small towns. And, plan on days where there’s no driving at all.

5. What if being with the kids all day, every day is too much to take?
I’m someone that needs “me” time, so not being able to have this “me” time is a bit scary. Something I’m considering is a long weekend where it’s just me and all four kids to see how it goes, how I like being the only driver and whether or not I go bonkers. Other ideas include hotel kids clubs, kids-only classes along the way (e.g., horseback riding, crafts), even hiring a local babysitter for a few hours from Sittercity.

Have you ever taken a solo road trip with the kids? What questions weighed on your mind as you planned the family vacation? Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: einalem

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