We pulled into our driveway last night from a weeklong road trip vacation to Texas. Despite my tired eyes, my slightly cramped back and a longing for home-cooked meals (not freeway food), it was a fantastic time! We split the trip into two long travel days each way. My husband and I tend to be more on the planned, uptight, faster is better side of life, but we throw this out the window (or try really hard to) on road trips.
Four people in general can be difficult, but when you consider 2 of them are children and one is only 6 months freshly potty trained…we made a few too many bathroom stops. We kept telling ourselves, “Ok, this is good, break up the trip, stretch our legs, run a few laps around the parking lot, at least they are staying hydrated.” This worked for a while, but my patience was greatly tested around the middle of Kansas.
Roadside stops don’t always have the best reputation for their bathrooms. There were multiple cases where I was very thankful just to have running water, but there wasn’t much else they offered. In the last week, I laughed tears in a bathroom, I shed a few not-so-happy tears in a bathroom and I never, ever, ever raised my voice (cough) in a bathroom.
Here are just a few of our now-that-it-is-after-the-fact-I-can-laugh-moments:
Automatic blow dryers: My girls are hysterical about the noise. Every, and I mean every bathroom we went into with a dryer they reminded me to NOT use it. If another woman was drying her hands they would boycott the room until she was finished.
Automatic flush toilets: They have the same reaction about these in terms of noise, but with the added fear it will go off while they are sitting. Scary. One rest stop had 5 stalls in it but the doors were only 4 ½ feet tall. This led to a few “shhh’s” in the moment and some interesting conversations after the fact.
Flies: The further south and the warmer it got, the more bugs were present. We would walk in and see 4 flies sitting on the toilet seat. I was the official “shoo-flyer” protecting their bare bottoms. We don’t like flies anymore.
Broken stall doors and locks became a norm. But I guess my modesty went out the window when I had kids in the first place. It seemed like every other stop Franny (2 years) forgot that we don’t sit/lay/crawl on the floor of a bathroom. Yuk. We had a tantrum in one stall. It’s a terrible position to be in a locked stall with a kid screaming “no, no, don’t do that, you’re hurting me.” Oh my. Fortunately, I was surrounded by other mothers who safely assessed the situation and then bonded with me in my struggles.
The best were gas stations that didn’t have a public restroom but they were generous enough to let us (I may have looked a little pathetic holding the hands of two “dancing” little girls) use their private one. Winding through dark back hallways of old gas stations became traumatizing for Franny and she refused to go altogether, simply taking us to the next freeway exit to try again.
However, we met a lot of smiling faces and chatted with some very lovely people along the way. My girls had some good practice in flexibility. They learned that I can’t fix everything, and a good lesson in toddler entitlement. I learned that they can make do if the toilet paper roll runs empty at home and I also learned just how long they can hold it after their first declaration of needing to go. Successful road trip. You can read some great tips on road tripping with kids here and great travel tips with kids here.