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Road trip with kids: A 5100-mile journey

Many thought that I was crazy. They assumed I would end the nonsense and turn around.  They were certain, if I didn't, I would be committed, and I agreed with them.  But, I'm a stubborn mom and was determined to prove everyone wrong.  So, thus began a month-long journey, covering over 5100 miles (round trip) through the U.S. with just Mom and two kids, plus an SUV half-filled with food, DVDs, and busy boxes.

The trip was planned not only for summer vacation but for sanity during a military deployment.  It was also planned to maximize the number of family members we could visit.  The route was planned but no hotels were booked due to the uncertainty of traveling with young children. I researched the best way to keep kids sane during road trips, buying books, craft projects, educational materials, and new DVDs.  I built a new Spotify playlist with songs that would be soothing to me as the driver, but also be something suitable for my children's listening ears. The car was packed.  The kids were loaded.  The Costco-sized tub of Jelly Beans was sitting in the passenger seat.  We were ready to go.

Over the course of the 31 days, I learned many things about myself and my kids.  For one, there are only so many times you can hear the same movie over and over - despite how happy and calm it makes your children - before you just can't take it anymore.  A quick stop to refuel and use the restroom is never actually a quick stop.  Teaching your kids the age-old signal to have a semi honk it's horn makes you feel young again and fills your kids with excitement when the semi's fulfill this request.  And, despite any stresses due to 10-13 hour-long days of driving, the magnificence of the continually changing scenery as you drive across the U.S. is something that can be appreciated by anyone at any age.

Some say that I was brave to take on a road trip of this magnitude without my husband - with him, literally, oceans away.  Not only was I dealing with the typical stresses of family travel, but I had no one there to counteract my moods or my kids' moods...except during the road stops and overnights surrounded by strangers or family members who were so excited to see us that they often didn't realize the - at times - overwhelming stresses we were under when we hadn't spoken to Daddy in days because of lack of cell phone coverage or time zone changes, not to mention the hours of sitting in summer road construction traffic.

Throughout the next few weeks as I share my story of a month in a car, just me and my kids, I hope you enjoy the ups and downs we went through.

Day 1: The car is packed, we're ready to go!

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