10 Things That Always Happen On Our Long Car Journeys

Like lots of people we don’t live around the corner from our close family anymore which means we clock up lots of motorway miles.  Before we had children it wasn’t as big a problem as the drive was tedious but at least there was just the two of us and nobody else to worry about and the train was always an option too.  But now that Mini ATWWAH has arrived the car is the most practical solution as you can pack it high.

I have definitely noticed though that there are certain things which always happen on our car journeys.

1.  They Start With An Argument

I tend to pack everything but Mr ATWWAH’s stuff.  I’m pretty good at it, I write a list and very rarely forget anything.  However, this does not stop Mr ATWWAH questioning me as we are loading the car up about whether I have remembered ‘x and y’.  It drives me nuts and is almost guaranteed to start an argument.

If we don’t manage an argument about that we are almost guaranteed to argue about what time we leave.  My parents live about 200 miles away and it can easily take four hours to get there, especially if we stop on the way.  We don’t see them that often as my mum has dementia so we have to go there as she is now too ill to come to us.  Before the day we leave I try to commit Mr ATWWAH to an estimated time of departure, this can either be 8pm on a Friday after we’ve bathed the kids so they’re in their pyjamas or early Saturday morning.

I always think having a time in mind helps to focus us on getting the job done but Mr ATWWAH hates it so we always argue as invariably we always leave after the time we had decided on.  It means for the first five minutes of the job we are either in stony silence or shouting at each other, not a great way to start and certainly not recommended.

2.  We Always Discuss Moving House

In the part of London we live in we can easily spend an hour or more getting out of London and reaching a motorway.  On a good day  it takes about twenty minutes but there are rarely good traffic days in London.  It is almost guaranteed that by the time we have reached the big roundabout in Hammersmith (not sure what a traffic reporter would call it) Mr ATWWAH has started the ‘we should move’ conversation.  We’ll never do it as we like our bit of London too much to justify moving for the handful of times we drive up north a year.  But, a car journey with the ATWWAH’s wouldn’t be the same without this conversation.


Leaving London can take ages

3.  I Become Neurotic About Spillages

I’ve never let people eat or drink in my car for a couple of reasons, mainly I hate the smell when you get in a car and someone has eaten in it and even the tidiest of eaters makes a mess in a car.  There are crumbs, spillages, stray sweets and so on.  However little people tend to need food and drink at some point on a long journey and as you can’t always guarantee getting to a service station before hunger strikes I’ve had to let my rule slide.  So now I spend all my time vetting the food we take in the car so it doesn’t smell too much, isn’t too crumbly, gooey etc and poor Master ATWWAH has to sip water from a bottle so carefully as I stare at him, biting my lip hoping there isn’t a sudden need to brake (I’m not driving at this point by the way) and see the water go everywhere.

4.  We Make Master ATWWAH ‘check’ Mini ATWWAH

Despite having one of the little back seat mirrors so we can see Mini ATWWAH through the rearview mirror we often ask Master ATWWAH what his baby brother is doing.  At first Master ATWWAH liked the important job of reporting back to us, ‘er, he’s sleeping’, ‘he’s crying’, or my favourite ‘he’s breathing’  However, Master ATWWAH now knows the back seat mirror is for our benefit so we can see Mini and if we ask how he is will just retort ‘I don’t need to tell you as you can see him’.

5.  There Is At Least One Nappy Change Per Journey IN THE CAR

Despite the fact we stop at a service station at least once on our long journeys Mr ATWWAH insists we don’t use the baby change facilities.

Admittedly we have had some horrible experiences in service station baby changing loos, invariably they stink as they are so rarely cleaned or some of the people who use them don’t understand nappies generally go in the bins provided.  They are often in the disabled loo which means there is a queue not only of people with kids but also disabled people and I almost always let the disabled person go ahead of us as I think it’s a bit rude they have to share the facilities anyway.  They’re just not nice.

So instead after we’ve eaten and gone to the loo ourselves we then head back to the car where Master ATWWAH sits in the drivers seat to keep him occupied, he usually pretends he’s a taxi driver and he’s taking us somewhere while his car seat is plonked on the ground of the car park while Mr ATWWAH pops Mini ATWWAH’s changing mat on the seat and changes him.  Sometimes it is without incident, often it is.  The best was an exploding nappy.

I refuse to change him in the back seat of the car as I think it is weird.  I’m probably more used to horrible baby changing facilities too as I do it more when we’re out and about in the week.  Then there is the whole palaver of putting the car seat back in, extracting Master ATWWAH from the drivers seat as he’s screaming we haven’t paid the fare yet, disposing of the nappy bag and Mr ATWWAH running back into the services to wash his hands.  This makes me and my time keeping obsession even more enraged.

6.  We Always Eat Rubbish In The Services

I know some service stations try hard to offer a ‘healthy option’ but limp salad from a counter doesn’t do it for me.  Some of the better ones have a supermarket option but you have to look quite hard sometimes to find something as they are often sold out.  So we have been known to head to the Burger King.  It’s always one of the most underwhelming experiences.  Sometimes I think ‘ooh yes, I could just eat a burger and chips’ but then you do and it isn’t nice but you feel really full and a little bit dirty.

On our way to Cornwall Master ATWWAH was overjoyed by the Burger King crown and insisted on wearing it for the first days of our holiday.

If I was a better person I’d pack us a healthy lunch but I’m not so nasty service station food it is.

7. I Become Obsessed With Traffic (And Weather) Updates

For a couple of days before we leave, especially in winter, I become obsessed with snow reports.  You know how it is when snow is imminent and the BBC weather forecasters get overexcited and you see the salt containers and gritters on the roads.  Almost always it is an anti-climax but it doesn’t stop me checking my weather app.

One of my friends is the same and regularly travels by car up north so we often message each other especially on the run up to Christmas with updates and alternative routes.

When we’re on the road I make everyone go quiet when Bobbie Pryor on Radio 2 does the traffic update.  It’s all a bit pointless as I’m crap at knowing which junctions we go past so then I have to look in the road atlas for ages.  And I have to send at least one dull traffic update to my friend, she does the same.

Master ATWWAH on laptop

I’m not sure that is the BBC Traffic page

8.  We Discuss Whether We Should Believe The Sat Nav Woman

The sat nav on our car is in-built and is rubbish.  We can’t work out how to turn off the setting which says avoid toll roads so all along the M6 toll we’re told to turn around when we can and it always tells us to come off as it desperately tries to get us back on the M6.  I wouldn’t mind, we know the way to where we are going most of the time, so who knows why the sat nav is on.

Annoyingly it alerts you when there is a ‘traffic incident’ ahead and offers an alternative route.  But it never tells you what the incident is so you don’t know if you are approaching an hour long tailback or a small speed restriction.  So we then spend time discussing whether we should accept the alternative route which usually involves miles of A road or take a chance and ignore it.  Mr ATWWAH also, oddly, finds it exciting to follow alternative routes and A roads through Staffordshire whereas I don’t.

9.  I Criticise Mr ATWWAH’s Driving

I know it is not rare to criticise your husband’s driving but as well as its crap sat nav our car has a cruise control which also, if necessary, brakes for you depending on the flow of traffic.  How terrifying.  I never use this function as I like to feel I’m the one who is driving.  I’ve only recently accepted that automatic cars are ok, I used to really pine for a gear stick and using it myself.

I probably can brake too early on a motorway but I think that is safer than too late.  I just hate that Mr ATWWAH tells me the car can brake.  As I point out the car won’t be injured if it brakes too late, we will, and others.

This conversation then gets followed by Mr ATWWAH talking about how it will be good when we get the technology to attach cars to each other as they are all going in the same direction and that is how traffic jams and many accidents will be a thing of the past.

10.  We Sing. 

It isn’t all arguments and fretting over spilt bottles of water in our car though.  We like to sing.  We don’t have any kids CD’s or any of that malarkey in the car.  Master and Mini ATWWAH get to listen to their parents music choices which are often 6music, Radio 2 for Graham Norton and the traffic or a station we only listen to in the car, Absolute 90’s.  We relive our younger days and sing along to Oasis, The Farm, Teenage Fanclub etc…..far too many ads but apart from that, it’s good.


I’d love to hear about any car journey traditions you have, good or bad.  Please share.

If you liked this post you may like these:

We’ve become one of those parents

Travel during potty training

1 Comment
  1. Ha! My tradition with my husband is to ask if he knows the route, and when he says yes, not bother to look up directions. Problem is that although he does know the route mostly, there’s one bit where he’ll suddenly urgently ask me which way to go – guaranteed we’re in the middle of a mobile blackspot/my phone battery has died/I can’t get the information in time to stop us going the wrong way.

    Since I’ve wised up to that, I *always* check the route… so now we can bicker about the fact that he’s ignoring my carefully charted journey. Same goes for the satnav, I think it only gets turned on so that he can prove he knows better. You can practically hear the exasperation in the computer generated voice!

    Since my daughter made her arrival, we now have the battle of wills as to whose music gets played – my daughter’s (as she’s two and therefore believes it’s her human right) or my husband’s (as he’s driving). Never, sadly, mine!

Leave a Reply