In case your kids haven’t reminded you a hundred times yet, yes, it is summer time, and yes, that means road trip time! For all those brave and hardy souls ready to take on the challenge of the road trip with a car-full of kids, here is some trusty, tried-and-true road trip advice from humorist Mordechai Schmutter, sure to put you in a great mood for that trip (that is, if you are still up to going on it after reading this…)!
(Excerpted from A Clever Title Goes Here)
Now it’s time for: “Road Trip Advice for People Who Don’t Know Better,” the only Question and Answer advice column to have been officially recognized by the American Automobile Association of America as being a bad idea to begin with. This column features well-meaning advice to actual questions on car travel sent in by actual readers who don’t actually exist. And so, without further ado, we shall begin:
Q: Why do families go on long car trips during the summer?
A: There are many different reasons why people decide to subject themselves to long summer drives. Some of them may be tired of the hot, stuffy city environment in which they live, and would feel more comfortable driving long distances with the windows rolled down while waiting for the air conditioner to stop blowing hot air, and fighting radio static. These people hope to eventually get to their bungalow colonies, where the air is thinner and the pool freezes over in the middle of the night.
Q: Why don’t they just move into the bungalows for good?
A: They’re not too crazy about living in 1700s-style huts, either.
Q: Are there any other reasons why people may want to drive long distances?
A: Some people may want to visit popular tourist attractions featuring friendly people with enormously misshapen heads, such as Disney World or one of the square states. Their goal is to spend as much money as they can to be able to wait on line.
Q: So why don’t they just go by plane?
A: Not that much money.
Q: I have a job in middle management, in which my duties include walking around with a coffee mug and bugging people for coming in late. Over the last few years, I have racked up an enormous amount of unused sick days, to the point where I can get marooned on a desert island and no one will know the difference. My question is this: Do you think it’s something in the coffee?
A: It would not surprise us one bit.
Q: Do you think I need a vacation?
A: From the coffee? Yes. We think you should drop whatever you’re doing, especially if it’s important, load up the family car, and hit the road.
Q: What about the children?
A: If you plan on taking the children, you’re going to have to do a lot more in the way of packing. You will not be able to get away with the same two pairs of socks and a toothbrush that suffice when it’s just you and your spouse. With kids, you have to bear in mind that they will need a complete set of summer clothes, a set of winter clothes, a raincoat for the water rides, games for when they get bored, more games for when they get bored of the games, snacks for when they’re hungry, snacks for when they’re not really hungry but just saw other kids eating snacks, and a huge box with the word “miscellaneous” spelled wrong in magic marker. And if your plan is to sneak your kids out of camp on visiting day, you’re also going to have to leave room in your vehicle for their sleeping bags, their pillows, and their impossibly big bags of dirty laundry.
Q: How are we supposed to carry it all?
A: One way to move around excess luggage is to tie it down to the roof of your car, while taking great care not to accidentally tie your car doors shut. You can also purchase one of those big plastic turtle shells to attach to your luggage rack and then spend most of your vacation driving slowly through tollbooths and tunnels because you’re not really sure how tall your car is with the shell. Also, while driving along the highway, you will notice that some people handle the luggage problem by dragging their luggage behind them via trailers, motor homes, motorboats, All-Terrain-Vehicle carriers, and bicycle racks. This allows them to potentially block six or seven lanes of traffic while trying to make an exit.
Q: What about minivans or station wagons?
A: Many people nowadays like to use minivans, because most station wagons were manufactured back when people had to pull into gas stations and make it a point to ask for unleaded gas. On the other hand, station wagons are generally cheaper, due to the fact that some of the seats were put in backwards. Many children like them, too, because it’s easier for them to kick each other.
Q: How about sport utility vehicles?
A: These are actually the best, because they allow you to drive over other cars in traffic situations.
Q: How can I stop my children from fighting in the backseat?
A: That is an excellent question, and I’m glad I made it up. The truth is that children will always fight in the backseat. It is part of growing up. Back when the Jews were travelling through the desert, parents were often heard telling their children, “If you guys don’t stop fighting back there, I’m going to turn this cart around, and we are GOING BACK TO EGYPT!” This kind of threat rarely works nowadays, because children know full well that their parents are not about to show their faces back at work when they’re supposed to be spending the week in Cape Cod. Their co-workers would ask them right away, “Hey, I thought you were on vacation. What happened?” “Well, we got about halfway there, but then the kids started spitting at each other. Maybe next year.” Instead, you’re going to have to exercise parental threats that your kids know you will follow through on, such as, “If you don’t stop pulling your sister’s hair, then Mommy’s going to be angry.”
Q: I’m on vacation, so I can’t be bothered to come up with creative threats for my children. Do you have any other ideas?
A: Well, you can always take the approach that was first implemented a short while ago by millionaire philanthropist Dennis Tito. What Dennis did was he paid the Russians millions of dollars to take him up into outer space.
Q: What did the Russians do with the money?
A: They sent it to Siberia, where it froze to death.
Q: So what did he do up there in space?
A: Well, the Russians, who realized his significance as the world’s first space tourist ever, kept him locked in a little section of the space station and posted a bunch of signs prohibiting flash photography. If he wanted to visit any other part of the spaceship, he needed an escort. Also, if he broke something, he would have to contribute millions more dollars to the Russians.
Q: It sounds sort of like a prison.
A: You should have seen the food. It was all the same consistency and came out of toothpaste tubes.
Q: So why would I want to go up to space?
A: Well, for one thing, you wouldn’t have to exercise any parental threats, except on the Russians. You wouldn’t have to stop anywhere for directions, either, unless you would forget which way was up. And lastly, you wouldn’t have to pay for hotels or anything. You’d just stay in the spaceship.
Q: But isn’t that like loading up the car, driving it around, and then parking it right back in your driveway?
A: So you’d rather stick with your kids?
Q: I’d rather stick with my kids.