Over the next couple of days, families all across the country will be packing up the car with wrapped goodies and excited children and heading off to their chosen Christmas Day destinations. This may be with other family members or it could be at a hotel or resort (you lucky buggers) but either way it will mean preparing yourselves for hours on the road. It starts off all exciting, especially during the packing bit, but it can descend into hell on wheels if you’re not too careful. Last weekend we headed off the the West Country to visit a friend and had to stay the night as it was so far away and we couldn’t go there and back in one day. We’ll spend Christmas in Brighton this year so this was as close to experience the Big Christmas Road Trip as we got. It didn’t go too well…
Packing Up for the Road Trip
It STARTED well. I managed to get all of our stuff packed the night before. This was an overnight bag each including toiletries and also the presents we were going to give. Smugly, I congratulated myself on packing spare contacts lenses and extra books for the Little One. She helped me pack those so I was even winning at a fun toddler activities.
It was the Sunday before Christmas weekend, so we made an executive decision to avoid the big motorways in case we got stuck in horrible traffic. Sure, the journey would take a little longer but we would be able to enjoy some beautiful Dorset and Wiltshire countryside scenery. Leaving early at 11am, we hoped to be at our destination by 3pm – before it got dark. The planning was all there wasn’t it? That’s where I think I made my first mistake. I got cocky.
Two hours into the drive we thought “we’ve got this!” There had been pleasant conversation and fun banter with Toddler in the back. Countless calls of “Muuummmmmmy? What you doin’?” or “Daaaaadddddy? What you doin’?” made us smile and she had fallen asleep at the right time so the hope was that she’d get loads of sleep in before we arrived. Josh and I had managed to find a common ground of something to listen to (thanks to the Adam Buxton Podcast) and there’s was light and airy conversation as we drove through limited traffic and lovely scenery. All on point.
Then she woke up much earlier than planned. Much, much earlier. So early that we were worried about when she would be able to sleep later in the day. we had planned for a late night due to the nature of our visit and the fact that we were staying in a hotel. This kid never goes to bed early when we stay in a room altogether. NOT A PROBLEM! We would deal with it like we always would!
We stopped somewhere near Salisbury with food we had just bought from a service station. Things were looking up. The scenery was beautiful and our beauty spot was picturesque, it of effing COLD. We all had enough food to get us by. Little One has cheesey bites, breadsticks, crisps and grapes. Maybe we didn’t keep an eye on how much she was eating but we were happy that she’d eaten enough and despite being behind and getting stuck in pockets of traffic, our road trip was looking up!
We’d gone a bit without food at this point and the few snacks had run dry, so as navigator I started to panic as my husband is a royal grump when he’s hungry. Yet for some reason he didn’t want to stop at a services when I suggested it. His thinking was that we would “push on through just a few more” which to him was a great endurance test but for me flagged the potential for a HANGRY man at the wheel. The podcast had run out and we started to bicker over what to play next. We got into a conversation about how long civilisation had lasted (I know…I have no idea either) and within one minute were shouting insults at each other because of the stance that we took (out of interest mine is the SCIENCE viewpoint and his is the ALIENS viewpoint).
Ten, all hell had descended into our family car. We were parked up on the side of an A-road, shouting at each other whilst I held a crying toddler who had been stripped down to her vest because she’d thrown up all over herself and Josh was trying to clean her seat, while I looked for a spare jumper but COULDN’T BLOODY FIND IT and she was still crying poor thing and I had to find a blanket to wrap her up in and all the while Josh was shouting “WHY DID YOU FORGET TO PACK A SPARE JUMPER?” and I just didn’t know…and it was at this time I also discovered that I hadn’t packed her COAT or spare socks and now we had a half naked toddler who hadn’t slept enough and had thrown up everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) she had eaten earlier and the car STANK of puke.
We managed to clean up the puke, use one of my spare t-shirts to line her seat, wrap the messy clothes up in a plastic bag and put in the boot, calm her down and wrap her up in a fluffy blanket. It didn’t stop us seething at each other for the remainder of the journey and we arrived an hour late meaning we were in the car for nearly 5 HOURS. My darling friend had dinner ready for us on arrival and even gave us a small jumper to borrow for the evening. Little One thought it was all a great adventure and even with little sleep managed to stay up until 8.30pm with us going to a beautiful carol service.
All in I must impart some advice to you dear reader if you’re about to go on your own road trip this Christmas:
- Pack enough food and encourage the driver to stop and eat as early as you can
- Don’t forget to pack spare clothes and a coat you know, ESPECIALLY IN DECEMBER
- Find something to listen to that you can all get behind
- If the music is good then get you FIST PUMP on – it raises moral like you’ll never believe
- Pack an iPad or whatever you need to stop the “Muuuuuuuumy, what you doing” conversation – it gets tired after 5 hours
- DON’T GET INTO AN ARGUMENT ABOUT WHETHER ALIENS EXIST – it will never end well
Thanks for reading and wishing everyone a safe and happy road trip for Christmas. Stay safe and happy x