7 Reasons Why Road Trips With Kids Are Hell

by Debbie Butters
Originally Published: 
Three children wearing heart-shaped sunglasses in the backseat of a car on a road trip showing peace...

Last summer I presented my husband with the ill-conceived idea of piling our five kids into the car, driving all the way to the very very end of Cape Cod (a two-hour trip), and then basically making a U-turn and heading straight back (another two glorious hours). What I had suggested was essentially a four-hour road trip from hell. FOUR HOURS. In the car. With the kids. This should have raised some serious red flags about my mental status, as even a half hour car ride with the kids can make me go bonkers. From soup to nuts, it’s an exercise in torture. There are lots of reasons, but just to name a few:

1. Actually getting in the car. Why is this so difficult? I’ve been telling them all day to go outside and play, and they have refused. But now, as we are rushing out the door to get where we need to be, they are running all over the yard frolicking to and fro as if they’ve just discovered the promised land. What is this glorious magical land you call the “outdoors,” and why have we never heard of it before?

2. Seatbelts. It is a big surprise to some of them that they have to wear a seatbelt. I’m like, is your seatbelt on? And they seemed shocked and surprised as they look around for it. Come on people! It’s not a new invention that I just had installed the night before under the cover of darkness, and am now introducing for the first time. Behold: the seatbelt. The special apparatus that will hopefully keep you safe should I happen to crash the car while I am turned around yelling at you. The seatbelt is our friend. Now put the damn thing on.

3. Talking over the radio. Oh my God! Don’t even get me started on all the annoyances that involve the radio in the car. I’m just going to hone in on the MOST annoying one. And that is when I hear a Taylor Swift song that I like (and I like them all), so I turn it up and start singing, and then the girls launch into a big plan about who is going to sing what part. And then they are like, “Mom turn down the radio so we can figure it out,” and, “Mom stop singing! That’s not your part!” By the time they have it all sorted out the song is over, and beg as they may, I can’t restart it because it is the radio. The RADIO. Not satellite radio. Not my iPhone. But a good old-fashioned radio that cannot be rewound.

4. “Are we almost there?” I don’t even need to expand on this one. We have literally not even left the neighborhood and some fool will ask if we are there yet. Seriously. And then each one of them will continue to ask at annoyingly close intervals until I turn around to tell them that if so much as hear one more peep from them there is going to be big trouble. Huge. I don’t know what that huge trouble is, but it will be awful. Then they all start peeping. Because that’s like wicked funny.

5. Backseat drivers. My kids are little. They don’t drive. The oldest is about 5 years away from getting behind the wheel of a car. And yet, one of them (who shall remain nameless) is a backseat driver. “Mom, you’re going the wrong way.” “Why are you going so slow?” “Are we on a highway?” “Why aren’t we on a highway?” “Don’t go on the highway, I don’t like highways.” “You should go right.” “Red means stop. Did you stop?” “Now you’re going really fast.” “Isn’t that the house we are going to?” NO! It is not the house that we are… oh wait…yes it is! Hold on everyone!

6. Talking to me while I’m ordering at the drive-thru. While I’m ordering your special-order Happy Meal is NOT the time to remind me 50 times that you don’t want pickles on your cheeseburger. It’s just not. You already told me. I already acknowledged you. We have made a verbal contract that there are to be no pickles on your cheeseburger. But all the person at the drive-thru can hear is someone shouting pickles in the background instead of me asking for NO pickles. So you’re probably going to get extra pickles. Like tons of them. You have brought this upon yourself. Oh, and while we are on the subject… no one thinks it is funny when you roll down the back window and shout into the speaker that you want a Big Mac while I am at the DUNKIN DONUTS drive-thru ordering my life-saving coffee. I realize your siblings are high-fiving you and patting you on the back like you are a living legend. But I’m not amused. At all.

7. Getting out of the car. Again, this seems like it should be an easy step in the traveling process. We are here. Get out. Exit the vehicle. Move it. But no, they want to sit there all cozy in their seats for some reason. For kids who have been basically complaining about being stuck in the car for so long you would think they would be running away as if the car were about to burst into flame.

That’s it. I can’t go on. I’m not even going to get into the mess, the fighting, the kid who thinks he might puke, everyone who has to pee at different times. I. Just. Can’t. Until further notice, or until someone invents a minivan that has a divider between the driver and the rest of the car, all family road trips are hereby cancelled.

Related post: Murphy’s Laws of Traveling With Kids

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