Road Trip Disasters collage

Notice anything?

My family took a quick road trip to Chicago last weekend. It’s only about three hours away, and it’s a trip we’ve done hundreds of times. No big deal, right? It was the poster child for road trip disasters! And most of the things that went wrong could have been avoided, had I followed my own advice and been more proactive about planning and preparation. I was lulled into a false sense of security – It was just a weekend getaway, and we had done this trip so many times, I didn’t need to do any special planning. Or so I thought.

To save you the stress of a weekend getaway that leaves you needing a vacation, I’ve listed out my top 4 road trip disasters, and offered advice on how to avoid them.

“Where’s the __________?” “Wait – you forgot WHAT?”

Just a short list of the stuff we forgot on our weekend road trip: All of the refrigerated snacks and drinks, a clean shirt for my daughter to wear on the second day of the trip, socks, cub scout popcorn (to be delivered to family), museum membership card…need I go on?

How to avoid making your own list of forgotten stuff: Make a packing checklist instead. About a week before the trip (or sooner for a major vacation) start a running packing list. Jot down anything you don’t want to forget, like phone and camera chargers, cash for tollbooths, etc.

“I don’t feel so good…”

Someday, I want to take a road trip with the family that doesn’t involve puking. That would be great. Until that day, car sickness is just part of the game, so I might as well be prepared for it.

How to avoid car sickness disasters: You can’t always prevent carsickness, but you can prevent it from turning your road trip into a disaster. Keep a wastebasket with a trash bag or grocery bag liner in the back seat, within easy reach of your nominee for Most Likely to Puke. Keep a spare set of clothes handy – in addition to the ones you packed for your vacation. Pack a roll of paper towels, a box of baby wipes, and extra trash bags for emergency cleanup. Finally, stick a light blanket or towel in the car, so if the seat is gross, your child doesn’t have to sit in it.

“What am I going to eat?”

 If your family contends with food allergies or special diets, you’ve probably heard this one before. Everybody’s hungry, and the only restaurant you’ve seen in 50 miles is Davy’s House of Nuts or some other establishment that would probably trigger an allergic reaction as soon as you walked in the door.

How to avoid special diet starvation: Pack emergency meals. I’d much rather eat a hot lunch with my family, but if McDonalds is the only option, I’ll choose a gluten-free picnic box over getting sick. GoPicnic has a nice selection of gluten-free boxes available in most grocery stores, or you can easily assemble your own with ingredients that fit your diet.

“Just let me think for a minute!”

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t think well on my feet. So answering the phone in the middle of a crowded museum, trying to figure out what time we’ll be ready to leave, adding on travel time based on road conditions and likely traffic, because the in-laws want to know if we’ll be there in time for dinner – all while trying to keep an eye on wandering children – not my idea of a good time.

How to avoid snap decisions: Plan your itinerary. I know, you’re on vacation, you want to be spontaneous and go where the spirit takes you. That’s great – until you spontaneously decide you just have to see this show or that character, which happens to be on the other side of the park and will start in 30 minutes, and you have to decide whether or not you have time to make it happen.

Today’s #DisneySide question for my birthday week giveaway: Are you a planner or a pantser when it comes to travel? What’s your worst road trip disaster story?

Disney Vinylmation Ornament 2013

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