Road Trip Planning Essentials. Not pictured here? The entire internet....

Road Trip Planning Essentials. Not pictured here? The entire internet....

Oh, my gosh, y’all, we’re doing it. We’re driving across country this summer -  2 adults, 2 kids, one mildly (okay, completely) insane 6 month-old puppy. My husband, the kids, and I have been dreaming about this for years, shaping the route for months, and nailing down the details for weeks. And unless something majorly unexpected happens, we’re hitting the road in about a week. Eeps!

Partly because I think it will be fun, and partly because I think it will help me stay sane, I’m going to write about it. Right here. If you subscribe to The Goodness, my little travel missives will appear in your inbox just like all my posts. If you seek out my writing through my website,, you’ll find our travel journal under a new tab in the navigation, cleverly titled, “Road Trip’16.” Genius, I know.

I’ve never done a road trip quite like this before, so I don’t really know what to expect. When I was a child growing up in Georgia, we always drove to our family vacations in Florida or North Carolina. I was famous for throwing up all over my brothers in the back seat, every, single time. Perhaps this is why our road trips were never longer than 4-5 hours and why, at some point, one of my brothers chose to ride in the way-back with the dog, instead of in the middle row with me. Who’s to say.

But, at some point, I think in college, my wanderlust started to get the best of me. As a student, and then as a young, poverty-level, junior, junior advertising assistant to the assistant account executive, the only way I could get away was in my car. Whether it was fleeing our small college town for our nation’s capitol, or driving from Richmond to New Orleans in August (!!!), the road trip became my BFF. There was no feeling of independence greater than hopping in the car, alone or with friends, and hitting the road. Sometimes cars broke down (mine), and fancier cars were borrowed (my step dad’s). Sometimes the driver (me) panicked upon seeing a toll road for the first time ever. Once I got a speeding ticket fleeing a shattered heart, driving back to college after my father died. Once I got speeding a ticket fleeing a bad breakup, driving to my mother’s house at midnight. I’ve driven across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (AH-MAZING), and I’ve driven all over New York City (AH-MAZING in a whole other way.) But no matter where I’ve driven or been driven, it was always a blast, there were always unexpected turns, and, most importantly, it was always an adventure.

My husband’s family, on the other hand, took tons of road trips.  My late father in law was in the Air Force, so the family moved a lot while my husband was growing up. While some posts were overseas, most of them were in the US. So driving to new posts and new lives and new adventures was a regular occurrence. And with grandparents and beloved cousins in California, there were even more reasons to get in the car to follow their hearts. And in the 17 years Harry and I have been together, we’ve driven all up and down the east coast, all over Carlifornia, and through a pedestrian-only piazzas in Florence. (That, my friends is a good story, but for another time.)

Maps are our friends.

Maps are our friends.

As for our kids, they love a road trip. They’ve been between San Francisco and Los Angeles more times than they can count, and crisscrossed North and South Carolina more times than I can count. Our eldest son's first road trip was to my husband’s family reunion, when he was less than a week old. Our youngest was born in Los Angeles, so you can only imagine the hours he logged in the car before he spoke his first word.

So, technically, we’re ready. Our car has a DVD player, and we just bought a YETI cooler. But driving across the country is not driving across a state, not even a giant one like California. While anybody can do a weekend road trip, going full-on road-warrior and driving across the country is NOT for the faint of heart. Oh, and have I mentioned that we’re taking our puppy? Our six-month old, snapping-turtle of a teething puppy, who also happens to be a Labrador?

Did somebody say, "Road Trip?!?!?!"

Did somebody say, "Road Trip?!?!?!"

Okay, I can see you shaking your heads over your iPhone/iPad/laptop. You're thinking, “These people are crazy and this woman’s blog will be a tale of woe, from one coast to the other and back again.” And perhaps you’re right. I’ve said all along that this trip will either be the greatest thing ever, or it will destroy our family for generations to come. Who knows. But the only way to find out is to do it. And writing about it along the way will be part travel guide and part cry for help. Here’s to hoping that it will be a little more of the former and little less of the latter.

Stay tuned for more, but here’s a general outline of our West/East Route. Drumroll please: San Francisco to Palm Springs to Scottsdale to El Paso to Carlsbad to Austin to Lafayette to New Orleans to Auburn to Banner Elk, NC. Phew! Got any recommendations? Shoot them to me, either in the comments or under the “Contact” tab on my website. Wish us luck, y'all. We’re gonna need it!



PS - And to satisfy my mother, here is a message to all you burglars out there: YES, we have house sitters and YES we have an alarm. We also have a death and quick-getaway-defying driveway. So there. You have been warned!


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