Road Tripping: Fail and Lessons Learned

The author, SB and our 50 lbs dog
Author, SB and our dog

2015 has been one of the coldest, snowiest on record here in the northeast . Home  for me is about 3 hours west of Boston just over the border in New York. From early January through early March, we had sub zero temperatures and thigh high drifts.

Even now, on the first day of spring,  winter holds tight with snow is still up to my knees in some places. We still have cold winds blowing and a storm warning with accumulation predicted fortoday and tomorrow.

My husband and I thought we had it figured out. We would skip the cold, and see the country and our relatives with our 3 month old baby and our dog. We wanted to drive south to DC, Clarksville, TN and finally to Houston, TX. Then we would go west, through Rifle, CO to Salt Lake City UT and over to California to escape the sub zero temperatures. We planned to come home in late March or early April. Instead, we were present in the north east for 6 of the 7 major snow falls that fell this year.

We did make it as far as Houston, TX. It was not warm. The mercury hovered at 30 degrees one of the weeks we were there. We then turned around and came home. We did get south, we didn’t get out of the cold. We did however learn quite a few things about road tripping with a newborn. Here are my lessons learned.

Have a flexible schedule – Try not to have fixed dates

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.01.09 PMTraveling with an infant is unpredictable. We are no longer two adults who can drive 15 to 20 hours at a click. The first part of our trip was nice. We started on December 14, 2014. Other than spending a few days in Clarksville, TN, and being in Houston by the 24th of December, we had no plans. We could take as long as we needed, and as a result, our drive south was so pleasant! Some days we drove 5 hours at a time. Other days we took it really slow, driving a few hours then stopping to nurse the baby or look at an attraction. In contrast, when we drove back from Houston to Clarkesville, we decided to do the drive in two days. The second day was long, about 12 hours in the car. By hour 7, SB had had enough and she let us know it.

Know your limits – Get off the road

Dolce
Dolce

Some days we drove for 8 hours (ok 12) – other days we were off the road after 2 hours. We had to respect our limits regarding how long we could stand being on the road. Time is one thing to consider, another is to know your limits for comfort. My husband is fine camping out in a car. I in the other hand, get really cranky if I have to sleep upright in my little Jetta packed to the gills with a baby, a cello and a 50lb dog more than one day in a row.

Be prepared to spend extra money – Plan extra nights

We planned to take 1 to 2 days to get to each destination. In my mind, I budgeted an extra time and money between each stop, knowing that we would spend more nights than anticipated in hotels. What can I say, I like a proper bed and bath every once in a while! In preparation for this trip, I signed up for hotel loyalty points and committed to staying at that chain on the trip. We racked up points for free nights which we used during our trip.

Bring your own food 

Unless you like greasy fast food, bring your own food. My favorite road tripping snack foods are apples, celery, hard salami, hard aged cheddar, water and wine. By bringing these fresh snacks, you can often avoid the uncomfortable bloating, gas and constipation that comes with eating on the road. The fruits and veggies are available cheaply at grocery stores along the way. After a long day on the road these snacks and a glass of wine are the posh way to unwind especially when you are being frugal.

Plan your home care- then double check and triple check

I live in one of those 1700s mill houses. Every 50 years or so, the current owner decides to add something to the house. What you wind up with is a pieced together dwelling, that settles all at different times. Some room are short and other areas are built for modern day tall. These houses are one of a kind and a bitch to heat.

Late winter in the cellar
Ice in the cellar, late winter

The oldest part of the house still has a stacked stone foundation that lets in the critters. If no one is there, critters will move in, and they did. We first heard something might be amiss when our 74 yr old neighbor called us to say that the gift she left for us was still on the front steps a week later. So much for the almost full-time house sitter. Our poor kitty was lonely and sad and lost most of her weight and a pipe burst. To top it off, we also wracked up a mysteriously high power bill. Like it or not, we were on the way home.

Be prepared to ditch everything and fly home

Last but not least, be prepared to ditch your plans. After one mishap after another, we decided the best thing to do was go home. We decided that baby and I would fly from Nashville. Instead of 3 days to get home, it took 4 hours. For Allan, he didn’t have to worry about stopping for a baby. It took him 20 hrs by car.

Spring is almost upon us. We’re still dreaming of getting out to California. Though we didn’t achieve the grand US tour we were hoping to, we did get a ton of other experience like how to install a gas furnace and how to check and replace the transistor on our solar system. Best of all, while hunkered down for the winter, we got to spend quality time getting to know our baby without having to share her with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We still plan to do that trip out west. However until we have a chunk of time where we don’t have to be anywhere fast, we’re flying.

2 thoughts on “Road Tripping: Fail and Lessons Learned

  1. It’s nice to read about what you’ve been doing, K. You have a whole new life. I was tired just imagining all those beings in one car. I’m glad you found the fun it all of it. And good tips. I especially like that you brought wine.

    Liked by 1 person

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