I despise road trips.
Oh let me count the ways:
- As an absolute freak about alignment and how I position my body, I obsess about the awful ways my body is crunched in the car.
- I get motion sick easily. I mean, like, on elevators. I’ve had the paramedics called on me for motion sickness before. So it’s best that I drive the whole way as I can’t read or even sleep.
- But, I have terrible anxiety while driving. Every 18-wheeler is “the one” that’s going to run me off the road with my sweet family inside. So I am a tense ball of nervousness the whole time.
- When you are gluten free and fast food isn’t an option, you have to make arrangements for your food which adds another layer of complexity to the whole enterprise.
I hated road-tripping pre-kids, but now that I have three of them, my disdain for taking the highway has grown exponentially. But, sometimes (like yesterday), it must be done. So here are my tips to controlling my anxiety and making the trip less unmanageable.
(Note, I did not say more manageable. I won’t go too far.)
Pack a Picnic and Pick a Safe Spot
I have to admit, sometimes the picnic part can be downright fun. Trouble is, when I am traveling solo with three kids, I don’t want to stop just anywhere. State road stops make me nervous with a toddler on the prowl. Parks can be too far off the highway to make them efficient. And you can’t just plop down on any old patch of grass.
We’ve had really good luck stopping at hospitals. Crazy as it sounds, it’s one place where no one will wonder what you’re doing just hanging around. It’s always open to the public, usually has nice picnic areas, and is a great place to go to the bathroom. When we drive to and from our childhood home in Tennessee, we have lots of hospital options close to the interstate.
The drive I did yesterday, though, through the middle of Georgia, is notably lacking in hospitals. The kids and I stopped at a local university. It made for a fantastic picnic spot with a book store to refresh our water supplies, plenty of green space, and a no one who wondered who we were and what we were doing there.
On a side note, I have searched high and low for a picnic packing tote that I loved. I finally found it in this Lands End number that was recently on sale for a sweet $25. It’s insulated and spacious. I love it.
Car seats stink for body alignment, especially when you are short.
They force you into a terrible C-curve, encourage internal rotation of the shoulders, and put your pelvis in an uneven plane.
This post from Katy Bowman called “Un-pimp Your Ride” hits on some of the basic ways we can make a car ride less unhealthy. For me, the end-all-be-all is the “towel under the bum” trick. I simply cannot ride in a car anymore without a towel rolled under my tail. Check out Katy’s explanation here.
Pay attention to how your body inhabits the space in your car and I know you will feel different after your next long haul.
“Right Now We Are Fine”
You know how they say, “Live in the moment,” and “Be in the now?” That is literally the ONLY way that I can survive the anxiety of being on the road. I cannot tell you how many times I repeated to myself, “Right now, we are fine,” during my five-and-a-half hour with the toddler screaming bloody murder road trip yesterday.
I also used the “right now we are fine” trick when my first child was a newborn and my postpartum anxiety was off-the-charts. It’s simple in theory, can be challenging to execute, but I find it incredibly, incredibly effective at getting me through the really super-stressful experiences.
So there you go. Those are the tricks that I have used to cope. Without them, I don’t think a solo trek with three little ones would be remotely possible for me.
What ways do you make road trips less miserable with the kiddos? What do you do to make them more healthful, mentally or physically?