Okay, before I even launch into this I have to tell you that I am FRIED! Not a little fried, but the kind of nerve jangling fried that comes from fighting 56 straight miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, complete with fighting kids and farting dog.

Yes folks that is how I spent the day. We left vacation in South Carolina in a driving rainstorm last night, headed for New York. There’s no way, with fighting kids and farting dog, that I could drive all the way so we stopped for the night in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Now, Buff, who’s been on his own for two weeks now and proclaiming his undying love for me and the kids everyday, had one simple request; that I bring home his golf shoes. So I threw both in the back of the SUV and headed up 1-95.

Problem: When we arrived today, after the hugs and kisses, not even 240 seconds later, we are arguing. Why? Because one of those damn shoes did not make it home. How does that happen? I called all the places we stopped up and down the highway to no avail.

Okay, there is a happy ending but you will have to wait to hear it.

In the meantime I have put together five critical things for surviving road trips with kids. Here goes:

  1. BREAK IT UP! Okay I know you road warriors want to try and push it, you want to get there in one day, but what good does that do if the kids are cranky and have butt sores from sitting in the same position for 13 hours? Make it easy on yourself. Pick a halfway point, stop, relax, find a hotel with a pool, and let the kids swim until they’re beat. We always pick hotels that have pools because they sleep so well after they’ve been swimming. You can get up the next day and start putting some pavement behind you.
  2. SPEAKING OF BREAKS, TAKE A LOT OF THEM: Now I know the full-grown bladder is something to behold but little kids have bladders that could be mistaken for peanuts. Not to mention you have probably been plying them with juice boxes for 300 miles. Let them relieve themselves! And check out the ice cream at the truck stop. And the truckers. When will they get to do that again? It will probably be the highlight of their trip, much to your chagrin.
  3. BRING ELECTRONICS: Yes, you will play spy the white horse. You will play the alphabet game. You will play the out-of-state-plate game. But there will come a time that you will want no one talking so you can sing along to the college station you found playing a Hall and Oates marathon. You will need electronics to entertain your angels – iPhone, laptop, DVD player they are the secrets to a successful road trip. Bring batteries and chargers. You have been warned.
  4. BRIBERY IS AN EFFECTIVE TOOL: Make sure, in those frequent stops you come out with something that is shrink-wrapped in plastic. Beef jerky, Slim Jim, sour patch kids, a giant pixie stick, whatever their poison, succumb to it. It will buy you a few moments of peace. Yes there will be the inevitable sugar rush. It is always followed by the crash, and silence from the back seat.
  5. MOST IMPORTANT: HAVE A GLASS OF WINE WAITING: Or pour it as fast as you can. You will need it. Be it the idiots who drive slow in the fast lane or the endless road construction, you will want to relax. If the masseuse is busy, a glass of Pinot Noir is an appropriate substitute.

Okay, back to the golf shoes.  Buff was smiling and holding two golf shoes when I came home from a quick errand. Turns out one of the golf shoes had made its way into Cole’s bag.

Sound like the recent iPhone incident?

Yeah it does to me too.

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.


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  2. Madeline

    July 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I love it! Great story. As always, thanks for sharing!

  3. degginspensword

    July 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Rene, I need your opininon on books vs. portable DVD players. My parents have nothing but bad things to say about parents who stick a DVD player in front of the kid on road trips. We played road games and when that quickly bored us, we read books and colored.
    I argue that I was a supreme book worm and and it just worked for me. It is just a different time now?
    My mom’s argument is that it’s lazy parenting. I think they just lucked up and had a nerdy child. Every kids different. But I don’t have any kids, so this is just off the top of my head.

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