Part 1: The Car Diaries, Summer Tour 2015

Mike Grabman

I recently went on a tour of the Southern United States along with my wife and child. Here follows the first installment of that journey on the road.


Part 1: Packing
My wife has never been a person who packs light. It doesn't matter where it is we're going. Going "camping" in the past has been an exercise in moving everything we own from inside of our home...and taking it out into the woods.
This was to be our first significant trip with our new child, and we were to be gone for over two weeks, so I was somewhat nervous about the amount of stuff my wife would pack. My eldest sister is pretty amazing when it comes to packing (working as a Peace Corps volunteer and with the UN has taught her to be able to move quickly and lightly when traveling), and when she had her first child, I saw how much more even she packed.
My wife and I ended up filling a large sedan completely full of things, leaving little space for the three of us. We had packed about 100 diapers, a diaper bag, breast pumps, a Pack n' Play, three coolers, clothes, a stroller, various text books, electronics, my tools, etc. It took me maybe an hour to pack everything and load the car up.
I used to work delivering furniture. I can pack a vehicle. But this particular job took the better part of a morning to do.
I personally have an internal schedule when traveling that I try to stick with. My goal is to always maintain a mile-a-minute average—at the slowest—while traveling on the interstate. This time accounts for all gas station, restroom, and food breaks. It became increasingly difficult to maintain this average when I started traveling with my wife. She wanted to stop more often than I did (I once made it from Charleston to Michigan only stopping once for gas, and got mad at myself for having to use the restroom before I made it to my destination. I still made great time on that trip). Even leisurely trips to sight see, taking interesting roads along the way, I managed to keep to a schedule, albeit a more flexible one.Those trips also changed once I got married (no more sliding the back end of a car around mountain roads), becoming more like sight seeing trips to Loretta Lynn's Country Ranch.  
Loretta Lynn's house in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee
My friends and family warned me that traveling with a child would require much more frequent stops. They told me of trips that used to take them 5 hours by car now taking 8 and half hours. I attempted to plan ahead in order to save time—I made sure the car was packed, it had a full tank of gas, and that my wife and I had snacks and drinks (caffeine) to keep us going. Our first leg of the trip was only to Greenville, but I was already wary that that 213 mile trip would take longer than the average 3 and a half hours.
To be continued....