“Do not fail us now Gloria!” I called out as my husband drove our packed minivan and trailer onto a dimly lit street. Gloria Pricilla Struber, aka GPS, is practically part of our family, thus, deemed worthy of naming.

“Ugh! This gate is closed!!” It was 10 pm and after a few days of driving across country for a PCS road trip, we were finally rolling into our new installation.

Even if it was the wrong gate, a sign for the base meant we were on the home stretch of the drive. The kids were whining about food, movies, and that the fact that they only had two shoulders, but I could handle it. The whining meant they were still awake. I knew if they got even two minutes of shut eye, bedtime would be a bigger disaster than already forecasted with three littles in a new location.

My husband turned around, and with the help of Gloria, we tried another route. We passed the pawn shops, used car places, shady lady rooms and knew we must be close. Sure enough, there was the main entrance. The Hallelujah chorus started ringing in my ears…. This PCS road trip was OVER!!!

As enjoyable and painless as we try to make traveling for hours with children, it is not fun.

However, moving often, living far from family and the overriding desire to see natural wonders have caused us to get a lot of practice. It seems like I have made every Pinterest promise ‘to make travel terrific’ a lie. I have given up on the cute maps that just get ripped, the busy activities that take triple the time to put together than actually entertain, and the car games. Now my expectations are reasonable and my list of things to bring is basic, however, I have added a few items beyond devices, snacks and earplugs.

1. Emotional movies or music

PCS Road Trip

This way, when we think we have it bad, we can look to the screen or listen to the words in a song and recognize we do not have it THAT bad. It is all about perspective on a PCS road trip.

2. Band aids

PCS Road Trip 3

They are extremely useful for all of the booboos that occur on a PCS road trip right as you are leaving a rest stop, for stickers when the others are all used up and on the floor AND for a visual reminder that the pain of driving is temporary. It may be more of a slow rip off the skin, but there is hope it will soon be over and the sting will be gone!

3. Garbage bag

PCS Road Trip 2

It is not just for the trash from snacks and fast food. It is for all of the toys, movies, books and activities your kids used while traveling. They have looked at them for hours and won’t want to see them again. Plus, you have just decreased the number of things you have to unpack. You’re welcome.

Allison Struber is a military spouse, mother of three, teacher, and writer. Inspired by her kid’s energy and her husband’s dry humor, she spends her days trying to figure out a ways to bottle up the sweet moments in life. Read more of her writings at fb.me/STEMwritings.

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