I don’t do well on long road trips. Being confined in a car for hours on end causes me to search frantically for a roadside bar. My butt becomes numb and my long legs ache from being folded up like an accordion under the dash. I fiddle with the A/C between hot flashes, causing everyone else to shiver or sweat in the backseat.
Some of the other issues that make me want to claw my way out of the car during a long road trip include:
THE RADIO: One minute I’m listening to Bon Jovi and digging it, then suddenly the radio station changes over in the next city and Wayne Newton is serenading me with a love ballad that makes me want to stick a fork in my eye.
SNACKING: Long hours in the car causes terminal boredom. Boredom breeds hunger. Every five minutes I’m popping M&M’s and Cheez-Its in my mouth like a cracked-out snack hoarder.
REST STOPS: Within the first two hours of the road trip, my bladder starts knocking at the door. “Hello? Remember that grande size iced coffee you insisted on chugging down seventy miles ago? I’m not doing the camel thing here for you by storing all this liquid. Go pee!!” Murphy’s Law inevitably points a finger at me and laughs by trapping me in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate. At this point, I place my hands together in silent prayer: “Dear bladder, please don’t fail me now.” I’m also forced to consider using my red Solo cup for something other than it was designed for. The cup is probably cleaner than most of the highway rest stops we visit, where everyone looks like Walmart refugees. Maybe it’s because we’re all sporting the same, rumpled clothes and a glazed look in our eyes from white fever. The good news? I can stock up here on more snacks—a soda for five bucks, a bag of chips that expired two months ago in the vending machine or boiled peanuts from a one-armed man.
SINGING IN THE CAR: Another hour on the road and the bored men break out singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” when it plays on the radio. I feel like I’m trapped on a tour bus with either The Mormon Taber”knuckle” Choir or The Vienna “Sour Note” Boy’s Choir.
FAST FOOD: Junking out on fast food while driving 80 miles per hour down the interstate is always fun, especially if nobody has any napkins on hand. Half of the food ends up in your lap and the rest of it on your greasy chin. By the time we emerge from the car at out final destination, we look like we’ve just played paint ball with ketchup, mustard and chocolate milkshakes.
CAR FARTS: Eating all that crappy fast food and sitting for hours on our butts causes noxious fumes to fill the car. It’s too big of a job for those little, hanging air fresheners to mask the smell. The Hubs thinks it’s hilarious to crank up the heat and lock the car windows when he farts, just so he can listen to us gag and beg for mercy. I usually try to suffocate myself with a pillow when this occurs. Even worse, pug farts. Word of advice: Never, EVER let your teenager feed the dog a leftover bean burrito before hitting the road for a long trip. Your olfactory senses will never be the same.
THE HOTEL: I’m not sure where hotel chains purchase their pillows, but I’m betting they come from a sandbag factory. The mattresses aren’t much better; they’re so hard, I wake each morning folded over like an elderly man with rheumatoid arthritis.
Four people sharing one bathroom keeps things interesting as well, especially if everyone indulged in the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet the night before. Hotel managers would be wise to install timers in each bathroom so that everyone gets their fair share of privacy on the stink throne.
Large bath towels would also be a nice addition. No one can dry off properly from a shower with a towel the size of a dinner napkin. Foam padding needs to be added to the walls of every room so that it doesn’t sound like the family upstairs is bouncing on a trampoline or a herd of elephants stampeding the hallways.
VACATION ACTIVITIES: We spend most of our time hiking, visiting museums and fooling our stomachs into thinking we’ve entered a Man v.s. Food eating contest. The prize goes to the person who can no longer button their pants at the end of the trip.
Hiking in an unfamiliar forest with a multitude of winding paths is not a good idea if you’re codependent on a GPS. With dozens of banana spiders hanging from the trees and a gimpy husband with a bad knee, I don’t feel safe getting lost in a secluded area that resembles a perfect spot for a sequel of The Blair Witch Project. It’s enough to make me want to pee my pants, but I don’t recommend doing that in the forest either, in case you accidentally squat over a patch of poison ivy. Try explaining THAT to your doctor.
Museums are a great way to pass the time, mostly because they’re air conditioned and I don’t have to duck under banana spider webs. The downside is standing in a quiet room filled with ancient relics when your teenager farts loud enough to shake the walls….then points a finger in your direction.
much if you’re claustrophobic. Or penis-phobic. There are too many underground stalagmite areas that resemble multiple rooms of erections. It’s not cool to snicker about them either, especially while your tour guide is trying to explain these rock formations to your group.
Here’s another travel tip: if the weather has been crappy all week, don’t delude yourself into thinking it will pass and schedule an outing to the park. Nothing gets the heart pumping faster than being forced to run like an Olympian a mile back to the car while torrential rain is lashing at your face and dark, ominous clouds begin funneling overhead. Even more thrilling, yell, “TORNADO!!” and watch everyone scatter like ants out of an anthill. Leave the gimpy husband behind as he does his best imitation of a peg-legged pirate limping over tree roots and rocks. It’s every man for himself when a tornado is involved.
Would I do it all again? Absolutely. Those moments of deep laughter with my family that caused our eyes to water and our bellies to ache were worth every mishap. But next time, we’ll skip the bean burritos and carry a bottle of Gas-X instead.