Road Trips, Before and After Kids

Ah, the holidays! The most wonderful time of the year! Giving and getting the perfect gifts, wearing the coziest sweaters, and being with the people you love.

Unfortunately, being with the people I love requires piling into the car for lengthy road trips to the town I grew up in. And I kind of hate it. Though road trips home are necessary to see my beloved family, they are also stressful, usually take way longer than predicted, and, because I’m a freelancer, every road trip out of town means I’m missing out on work. It’s not enough that road trips are notorious budget-blowers; my income takes a hit, too.

However, according to a poll by Harris on behalf of Chevrolet, I’m in the minority. The survey shows that 93% of American parents enjoy road trips, with 53% of those saying they actually “love” them. I’m not going to lie – that was surprising to me. I mean, I definitely fell into that camp before we had kids. Early in our marriage, a four-hour trek south with my husband actually felt like a vacation. But ever since adding two small boys to our brood, there is nothing more stressful to me than traveling for the holidays. Right now, I am fresh off of our Thanksgiving road trip. So fresh, in fact, that I had my husband drop me and my laptop off at a nearby coffee shop as soon as we got off of our interstate exit. That’s right – I haven’t even been home first. I am all road tripped out and need a few hours by myself to recover.

Two thirds of those surveyed by Harris said that the most stressful part of road trips is the traffic. Since travel usually happens during holidays when more people are flooding the roadways, this stands to reason. For us, it isn’t so much the traffic; it’s the whining from my kids that is A DIRECT RESULT of the bad traffic. Before kids, gridlock on the interstate just meant more time for my husband and I to chat about all sorts of things – our favorite bands, what books we’ve been diving into lately (LOL what’s a book), and current affairs. It was extended quality time! But now, slow traffic means more time for my children to get sick of each other and the coloring books we’ve given them and start whining, fighting, or both.

The survey also reveals that the average family brings 6.6 mobile devices in the vehicle with them during the trip, and that if something like in-vehicle Wi-Fi was available, it would make the prolonged time on the roads due to increased and slower traffic more bearable.


If we had in-vehicle Wi-Fi, our trips would be a breeze. Our kids would be quiet and happy as clams, binging on Thomas & Friends or Little Einsteins. Meanwhile, I could make up for lost work time in the car by emailing out documents and managing my social media accounts. Call me a stereotypical Millennial, but if we had access to Wi-Fi in our car, I’d be so much more productive (and, therefore, happier) on road trips. I might even find myself in that aforementioned 93%.

Whether you love them or hate them, this is the season of road trips. So whatever makes them more bearable for you – be it mobile devices, in-vehicle Internet entertainment, or reading one of those analog books with paper pages, by all means, indulge. And may your children whine less than mine!

Happy trails, parents.