I think one of the reasons why people are so intimidated about taking a long road trip is that they are worried about “what if something happens?”. But here's the reality. It is likely that something WILL happen. Sometimes stuff happens when we are close to home- trust me, I've taken a kid to the emergency room for stitches because he fell down while boarding the school bus! And sometimes things will happen when we are on vacation- for example, one summer my daughter broke her collarbone while riding on an alpine slide in New Hampshire. So yeah, stuff is gonna happen. You just have to be calm enough that you can deal with it.
When we went to China in 2006 as a family, I remember being really worried that “something could happen” while we were on this trip- knowing that we would be traveling with so many little kids. And sure enough during the first week of our trip, my son was running around in the hotel room where we were staying and he hit his head on the pointed corner of a glass coffee table, and basically split his scalp wide open.
Steve, my McGyver-plan-ahead-kind of guy- pressed on the wound to (eventually) stop the bleeding, wrapped his head in a piece of gauze secured by an Ace bandage, that he had packed for just such an emergency.
There was no doubt that Spencer needed stitches. But since I am also a plan-ahead kind of girl, and knowing that we would be staying in one city in China for two weeks, I already had the name of an urgent care center, the doctor's name, and I had the address and phone number! So when we encountered this emergency I was able to tell our guide exactly where we wanted to go to have Spencer stitched up.
Planning ahead (or over-planning) worked in our favor in this case- but it was a unique situation. We were traveling for the first time with three kids ages 4, 3, and 2 in a foreign country where I was felt unsure about the level of “Western medicine” that would be available to us, and we were adopting a 15-month old who might need medical care while we were on our trip. That's why I was over-prepared. It gave me peace of mind.
But even reflecting back on past travel emergencies doesn't scare me into not traveling!
If I am road tripping with just the kids and myself, I try to focus on being mindful. I keep a first aid kit in the car, I keep a small stash of Band-Aids and anti-bacterial ointment in my purse, and I also have a first aid kit in my hiking backpack.
So instead of living in fear that something could happen, I live in the moment of being prepared, knowing that I can handle it if it does. Because emergencies can happen just hanging around the house, and I would much rather be taking my kids out to explore the world!
Addendum: I wrote this post a few years ago, shortly before I decided to embark on a “grand adventure” and take my kids cross-country for a summer family road trip. We covered 8000 miles and 14 states in 4 weeks- and it was an amazing experience! But of course- we did have a road trip emergency while on that trip- which you can read all about here!
You can read our Road Trip Diaries from that Great American Road Trip here!