How to Survive a Family Road Trip

You will need to plan and pack carefully. This above all things is most important as you prepare for the journey. Do not allow your mother or sister to distract you with silly questions about what ride you want to go on first when you get there. You will not only need to pack plenty of entertainment for yourself, but you will also need to prepare a certain number of distractions for everyone else. This will guarantee that you will not be forced to play roadside bingo with your eleven-year-old sister because she is bored and annoying your mother. And don’t forget that you will also have to contend with your mother’s newest boyfriend. You are not about to be usurped for the role of “man of the house” by the flavor of the month.

First off, pack your electronics: cell phone, laptop, PSP and iPod. Don’t forget the charger cords. Also don’t forget to update the playlists and games before you leave.

Secondly, ask Bill if you can borrow a couple issues of the magazine he hides under his mattress. Remind him that it’s about time for his mother’s yearly cleaning and inspection anyway. On your way home from Bill’s drop by the pharmacy and pick up a few issues of some magazines featuring Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga on the covers.

Last but probably least, pack some clothes appropriate for sun and fun. At least be optimistic that you and your family will survive the trip to Florida.

The night before the road trip stay up as late as you physically can. Do whatever you can. Watch movies, read comics, surf the internet, update your Facebook status at least a dozen times. Log onto World of Warcraft and you can pretty much guarantee that six hours will pass before you come back up for air, food or water. This way when your mother drags your pathetic sleep deprived butt down to the car, you will immediately pass out for at least a few hours. If you’re lucky, it’ll be North Carolina before you regain consciousness.

Now that you’re conscious, you’re sister will demand your attention. Distract her with Bieber and Gaga. Relish in the silence broken only by the occasional rustle of glossy paper. Plug in your earbuds and disappear into your own little world that only contains only you and your PSP.

After a while you’ll realize that it’s taking far too long to reach the border for South Carolina. It will soon be time for you to implement your grand scheme to take over the wheel and exercise that relatively new driver’s license. At the next rest stop, arm yourself with a few of Bill’s magazines. When you enter the bathroom, offer one to your mom’s boyfriend before you head into a stall. If his eye starts to twitch consider step one of your mission completed.

At lunch, tell your mother how much you appreciate how hard she works. Don’t forget to occasionally let loose a few snappy comments at your sister so the sugar coating doesn’t come across as too obvious. Comment on the dark circles under your mom’s eyes. If she excuses herself to use the restroom and comes back with some fresh makeup, consider phase two successful.

Getting back in the car, your sister will whine about how bored she is. Already the magazines you graciously supplied her with are a rumpled heap between the seats. Offer her your PSP on a sworn promise that if she breaks it, her life is forfeit. If your mom smiles at you through the rear view mirror, you will have successfully completed your mission and merely need to move in for the kill shot.

At the next rest stop offer to fill up the tank for you mom while she stretches her legs. When you’re all done, offer to let her sleep for the next leg of the trip. In fact, why doesn’t she and Randy stretch out on the bench seat in the back. You’ll also promise to make sure that Lindsey doesn’t cause too much trouble. Your mom will happily agree to the arrangement after nearly nine straight hours of driving. Try to not look too ecstatic. You won this battle by appearing to be sensible and mature. Don’t ruin it now. You’ll have plenty of time to do that as soon as she passes out on Randy’s lap in the back seat.

After getting back on the road for only fifteen minutes, the adults will be fast asleep, your sister will be whining that she wants to listen to her Hannah Montana CD and you’ll be trying to get a more interesting route out of the GPS. You tune the radio to a local rock station and allow your lead foot to take you down the highway at a solid 90 mph. You don’t want to drive too fast because it will arouse some suspicions when your mother awakens, but at this speed you can merely claim good traffic the entire time.

After being asleep for several hours, your mother will awake to realize that you are already bearing down on the Florida border. This would be an absolutely fantastic time to make sure that you’ve dropped your speed down to 70 mph or less. Keep in the right lane unless you absolutely need to pass. This is the time to implement all of those absurdly cautious rules your mother forced you to learn.

At the next gas station, again pump the gas for your mom. She will be grateful and say, “Why don’t you just finish out the trip, hm? We’re so close anyway.” Wipe the grin off your face if it’s too wide. Keep a modest smile and nod appreciatively. You’ll be so close to the hotel, you’ll practically be able to taste the continental breakfast. Keep to the speed limits as you come down off the highway and listen to “Gabby” the GPS for directions so that you don’t end up in a swamp.

After 18 hours of being trapped in a small car with your family, you will finally pull into the hotel parking lot and heave a giant sigh of relief. Hopefully you did remember to pack clothes because now that you’ve survived the road trip, you’re going to need them to get through the next week in Orlando. I cannot advise you anymore from this point forward. Disney World is an entirely different set of horrors from a family road trip.

However, one final piece of advice: don’t forget to charge your stuff before heading back home. Lindsey certainly won’t remember to charge the PSP but she’ll whine the most if it dies.