The Worst Family Trip: What You Can Learn from My Mistakes

I’ve been having a recurring nightmare. It’s one where we go on a family road trip, and we’re so unprepared that anything and everything goes wrong. Wait, was it a nightmare? No, it’s a memory.

We went on a family road trip to Yellowstone last year, and I’m not even sure the word disaster covers what happened.

The only silver lining to this story is that we learned some lessons. And now you can learn from our mistakes too.

If you’re planning a road trip with your family, keep the following things in mind:

Check your route

Our road trip was an exercise in Murphy’s Law, but everything that went wrong wasn’t completely arbitrary. Everything could have been prevented, or that’s how I see it.

For example, we took a wrong turn in Cody and were in Powell before we realized it. We certainly would have realized sooner, but we lost service and the GPS lost its connection. There’s not much we could have done about the lost connection, but if we had even glanced at our route before we left, we’d have known to go west instead of east on Route 14. There weren't many turns on this little daytrip. We should have known them.

If your family is anything like ours, you rely a little too heavily on technology. When technology works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, it can be debilitating. Check your route before you embark on your journey. This way, you’ll have a general idea of where you’re going.

Get organized

If you do one thing before your next road trip, do this: Get organized.

If you’re traveling with young kids, you’re going to have a lot of stuff and being organized really helps. Babies come with gear, toddlers come with toys, and teens come with electronics. The stuff just multiplies with each child you have.

For everyone, you’ll need snacks. It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling for two hours or two days, you need snacks.

If we had only organized our stuff, we wouldn’t have encountered our next problem. When we realized we were going the wrong way, we exited Route 14 and were in the process of turning around. I was driving and my toddler was screaming in the back seat. I was stressed out.

My son was hungry and needed a snack stat. My husband couldn’t find the snacks and I didn’t want to waste more time by pulling over. So, I reached back and felt around the back seat for the snack bag. I turned my head for a quick moment and my hand turned too. The car swerved and we smacked into the car in our blind spot. Great.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. Lesson learned.

Immediately after we got back home, I picked up one of those car organizers that hang on the back of your seat. If the snacks were in an easy-access spot, we wouldn’t have had that accident.

Get your car serviced

Thankfully, we didn’t get stuck on the side of the road, but we could have avoided some stress if we had prevented that tire pressure light from coming on.

Whenever that light illuminates, it’s a bit scary. You don’t know whether you have a slow leak or the tires are changing pressure due to outside temperature changes. You don’t know whether you’re going to have a flat, a blowout or whether you’ll get safely to your destination.

We knew that our car was overdue for service and we should have gotten everything checked before we set out on that mini road trip. But it was under a 3-hour trip, so we let it go.

This was truly the worst road trip we’ve ever had. If you want your next trip to go smoothly, check your route, pre-service the car and get organized. We certainly will.

About the author…Rachel is a freelance writer and a self-proclaimed "Travelholic" writing for Audi Atlanta. She enjoys traveling to parts unknown, sampling local cuisines, and sharing her experiences with the world. In her free time, you can find her planning her next trip, running with her dogs, or heading to the closest farmers' market.