The ABCs of a successful road trip

Well, we did it! We travelled 10,000 miles in three weeks from Glasgow to Toronto and to Tennessee and back with 5 children. We have to say, we’re pretty impressed with ourselves. We traversed seven States and one Province, stopping, sleeping, shopping or eating in: Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Findlay (Ohio), Nashville and Winchester (Tennessee), Huntsville (Alabama) and Toronto and we somehow managed to do all this without:


a)    a major argument – okay there were plenty of minor scuffles and a few choice words when I told P to turn off the highway when we shouldn’t have and we ended up in a dodgy looking part of downtown Detroit. The steam from the sewer was rising through the street grate in the early morning, creating a grey haze through which to view the bold lines of the graffiti on the buildings behind … pretty nice, in fact, until the older kids realized where we were and started yelling ‘lock the doors and don’t make eye contact’;



b)   travel sickness – apart from one minor incident as we were getting off the plane; this was when boy G decided to sit down in the aisle and fill the sick bag, holding up the queue of disgruntled passengers behind him;

c)    regretting it, amazingly!


When asked, the kids were fairly unanimous with regard to their best bits (and in this order):


a)    the food – although they all admitted to having too much of it and being served insanely huge portions wherever they went. They’re still peeing out all the free refills;

b)   the lake – thanks to good family friends, the kids spent two days on a boat and a seadoo and holding on for dear life on an oversized air mattress which bounced violently across the wake behind the boat;

c)    Toronto and the CN tower – apparently city life agrees with our homegrown, village living kids (oh, and, Canada has cute girls, according to our 16 and 14 year-olds).







As for me, well, these will remain lasting memories:


a)    watching boy B (in a state of utter exhaustion) hold up the 4 fingers on his left hand, as if he were taking an oath, when simply asked to place fingers on the scanner at the US border;

b)   seeing the look of bewilderment on girl M’s face when she realized she had tan lines – something she’d never seen before;

c)    rocking out in the car to our favourite tunes whilst sticking our arms out the windows and doing the ‘honk for us’ gesture to truckers in Ohio and Kentucky, many of whom obliged – thank you very much;

d)   hearing the eldest ask the youngest (and most widely travelled of all the children) if he would hold his hand during take-off;

e)   seeing and hearing P scream like a girl when a tiny little tree toad jumped out of a noodle and on to his chest in the swimming pool;

f)     and above all spending quality time with family and good friends … until next time …


So, if you’re planning a family road trip abroad, here are our top tips:


a)    expedite proceedings at the airport with a child on crutches (boy B broke a toe the day before we flew) – this not only secures you a wheelchair, but gets you into the express lane at check-in and security, saving you unnecessary queuing time;

b)   rent the biggest car you can – even this will seem small after hour 13;

c)    supply each child with a handheld electronic device and headphones;

d)   feed at regular intervals;

e)   provide a steady supply of water and be prepared to make frequent stops at seedy filling stations;

f)     plan the route meticulously with Google maps and don’t let ambiguous arrows on road signs lead you astray;

g)   don’t try to use a homemade ‘Nexus’ card created by your child on his PS Vita to get you through border control more quickly – border agents do not find this funny;

h)   learn the international sign for ‘honk at us’ and don’t be afraid to use it even with truckers who look like they’re on parole;

i)      never admit to children that you are lost;

j)     never tell children how long it’s actually going to take to get to your destination; simply say ‘we’ll be there in the time it takes you to watch three movies and play a few levels of Spiderman’.



More photos from the trip can be viewed here in our gallery. (1322)

One Response to The ABCs of a successful road trip

  1. Katherine O'Neil
    - September 2, 2012 Reply

    We had the best time with you here!!! We miss you already and can’t wait until we see each other next. Your family is our family…. WE LOVE YOU!!!
    xo K.

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