1. Pack your luggage and load the car the night before. Except, don't pack the stuffed animals or blankies. If a child wakes up in the middle of the night and needs his doggy, and it's packed away in the suitcase, and that suitcase is in the car, that will make for a disruptive night's sleep, and we all know how important sleep is before a road trip1.
2. Also, don't pack the clothes your wife is planning on wearing the next morning or when she comes home from her church meeting late she will have to unpack the suitcase you already packed so she can get her clothes out.
3. Pack a toothbrush for each person2, but only one stick of deodorant. This saves space in the toiletry bag and, for some couples, represents a level of intimacy to be proud.
4. Sharing deodorant is only advisable if the shared stick is a)unscented, b) not a “roll on” or “Gel” brand—because those are just gross, and C) not old—well worn sticks of deodorant tend to adjust over time to the unique underarm contours of the primary user, and thus glide less easily under a foreign pit.
5. Pack two pairs of pants per-day per-child, because you never know when your four year old will spill a cup of Sprite in his lap, or wade calf-deep into a rain puddle in the Zoo Parking Lot, or spill bean soup on his crotch, or wipe said bean soup-soiled hands on pants.
1. Use maps.Google.com to get directions.
2. double check Google's directions against MapQuest.com's directions.
3. Triple check Google's and MapQuest's directions against most recent AAA road map.
4. While driving south on rural Appalachian Highway, pay less attention to road signs pointing to Cincinnati, and more attention to step 5 in Google's direction that point out significant short cut.
5. Refuel often.
6. Don’t take “Dad, I need to go Potty,” too seriously, the first time. After that, use your best judgment. We suggest using the line, “I’ll stop as soon as there’s a place to stop,” and then changing the subject.
7. Don't leave wallet or other valuable item on the counter at rural Appalachian Gas Station. If you do, then at least don't fail to realize blunder until you’re an hour down the road.
1. Don't forget to pack paper bowls for bean soup or entire party may be forced to eat out of the hotel coffee mugs.
2. Let children run wild in room. “Running wild” includes, and is not limited to, pillow fighting, furniture climbing, bed jumping, at-top-of-lung screaming, and copious TV watching.
3. Also, while Spouse bathes kids, make grocery run to Kroger for Chocolate-Mint Moose Tracks and Cookies ’n Cream ice cream pints--keep one pint on ice until the kids go to bed.
4. Freely acknowledge feeling self-conscious as a hotel guest because A) the hotel you’re staying at is a NICE hotel that just fell into your lap via Priceline at Motel 6 rates; B) you just carried a plastic Kroger grocery sack full of snacks through the lobby, past the glass case advertising all the “room service” menu options, including $3.25/slice chocolate cheesecake, the sight alone, of which makes your knees buckle; and C) the color of the fraying bungee cord currently holding your rear bumper in place doesn’t match your paint job.
5. Allow four year old free reign of all TEN pillows in hotel room in order to make a fort. After four year old falls asleep, completely buried in pillows, remove pillows from at least his face, so that he doesn’t suffocate or sweat profusely during the night.
1. We’ve learned from past experience that this is a bad idea. This trip we avoided the pitfall, though the Queen Bee had to remind me, since I'd already snatched the stuffed animals from the beds of our sleeping children.
2. Some may argue that sharing a toothbrush is fairly intimate, and we’ve done it before ourselves, but as one extra toothbrush makes little difference in the overall bulkiness of the toiletry bag, sharing a toothbrush is considered unnecessary.