The Truth About Bringing Your Kids On A US Road Trip

Ross Good 'The Stented Papa' takes us through the good, the bad and the ugly of bringing kids on a road trip around the USA.

California 2019

We had our US trip for this summer planned pretty much when we returned from the States last summer. It seemed a long way away back then but time really does fly by. 

We’d also learned a lot from last years trip - for the most part. For example, last year the longest road trip we took was from Oakland CA to North Lake Tahoe.

Ah, North Tahoe, what an amazingly beautiful part of the world. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have visited, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, please trust me and take a look at going, it’s seriously stunning.

Cheers, Google Maps!

Now that journey above should take approx just over 3 hrs-ish according to Google Maps.

3-ish hrs? C'mon Man, any more jokes? It took us way longer than that. Clearly Google Maps has no offspring that simply don’t understand the question: ‘Does anyone need to use the toilet before we go?

Yeah, the nips can’t get that part right but it’s funny how they can cling onto the meaning of ‘FFS’ easily enough!


Last year we were clever and flew to Portland. This year we blew it by leaving it too late to book flights so we decided to have a mega road trip.

San Francisco to Portland - time to check back in with our old buddies in Google Maps and their imaginary ‘non-pissing, non-crying, never get hungry/tired/grumpy/bored/sick or Christ knows whatever else’ nippers and let's just see how long it’ll take us.

FYI For the best flow of our trip, read from the bottom up as we were heading North

First off, we knew we were gonna break up the trip over Saturday and Sunday. Approx 5hr drive each day. Sounds alright, right?


Screw You, Google Maps!

Here’s what Google Maps should have shown cause this is the real world with real kids in a real car on a real road trip messing with my real nerves -for real!

OK - so here’s the skinny. 

Nobody died. No one got lost. Neither parent filed for divorce (yet!) No wild monkeys attacked our car en route. No breakfast at any of those amazingly beautiful Hotel/Motel hybrids made us puke. Not even those ‘sausages’ that are actually burgers (huh?!) And not one single Google Maps was damaged bar the one above #sorrynotsorry. 

Break Down

That’s right folks - here comes the breakdown. Any of these sound familiar?

#1 So who wants to go to the toilet before we leave?

  • Nip 1: ‘I don’t need to go Dada’ 
  • Me: ‘Yeah, course ya don’t. So tell me - is that why you’re hopping up & down, right leg bent over your left holding your crotch?
  • Nip 1: ‘No. I doooonnnn’tttt have to go’ (still holding her crotch + strong leg slam) 
  • Nip 2: ‘What’s a cro..crot...crutch Daddy?!’
  • Me: ‘FFS….Never mind!’

* 60 secs after car pulls away*

  • Nip 2: ‘I need to go WEEE-WEEEE’
  • Me: (brake slam) ‘Agh Jesus H Christ!!!!!’

#2 Have you everything you need? Are you sure cause once we’re gone, we’re gone?

2-3 minutes after we’ve eventually left after the whole ‘I don’t need a wee / Uh oh, I do need to go’ situation, the nips start to check their packed bags (after being subtly prompted by both parents). Wait for it...

  • Nip 1: ‘Nooooooo, I want my (insert anything here that wasn’t packed)’ 
  • Parent: ‘Ok sweetie….well, you’ve plenty of other really cool things to play with there.’
  • Nipper: *roars at a level even dogs can’t hear & throws the nearest object they can find anywhere
  • Both Parents: "Jesus" :-)  

(This is going well … right? It’s worth noting, we’re 60 mins in the car now but only 10 mins away from our starting point!)

#3 OMG the slowest eater in the world

On the road at last. Yeah, baby. Ok so we’re 50 miles in and packed lunches aren’t working. Balls. Plus the nips can see the McD’s Red & Yellow sign from feckin miles off (Seriously, they can). We give in, thinking it’ll help us. (It didn’t. We’re idiots).

Here’s my question: How in the f**k is it humanly possible for a toddler to take (and this is 100% true because we timed it) 1h 37min to eat a happy meal of baby fries & 4 nuggets?

Answers on a postcard please…

#4 I’m tired…… 

Simple reply (after X hours in the car) - ‘then go the f*ck asleep!’

#5 Parents mood swings (with each other)

The struggle is real folks. No messing here. Sure we had our moments of tension ya know, with our tempers somewhat frayed but no papers for divorce were filed! 

Then, we took a moment & realised we were on the last leg of the journey and simultaneously both turned our minds to the end game. Bed for the nips and wine/beer for the grown-ups - albeit after 11 hours on the road for what Google said would be 5. So …

#6 Wine/Beer.

There’s simply not enough of either for this type of trip.

…..until our endpoint tomorrow night after another 11 hours on the road for a 5-hour trip!


A great experience if not slightly tiring. Let’s be honest, it’s impossible not to stop multiple times when you’ve young nippers on board so, despite my tongue in cheek look at it all, we seriously enjoyed it. 

We got to see so much of America you simply wouldn’t have when you fly. We drove back from Seattle to San Francisco along the coastal route on Highway 101.

It added a day to our journey but when in Rome, ya know? Some of the views were out of this world and will live long in the memory. Follow me on my Instagram account for photos & stories of our trip. 

Would I advise you to do something similar? Oh hell yeah. 100 million percent.   

Chat next month folks.

Ross - The Stented Papa

Follow me on - My Blog / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / My Business Booky Wooky


Ross Good

Tales & Stories from a Stay-At-Home-Dad, his missus, our 2 beautiful girls, the dog & my 4 stents!

Read more by Ross
{{ post.excerpt }}
{{ post.content.formatted }}

What is Family Friendly HQ?

Family Friendly HQ is Ireland’s trusted parenting community, dedicated to mums and dads, and families of all shapes and sizes.

Read more about us