Travel Wins and Epic Fails


I know, I know. It’s been a while. Life happens. As you know, there is never enough time in a day as it is… and that is particularly true when you’re traveling.

Speaking of traveling, I thought I’d share a few of my recent travel wins and epic fails during our current road trip. Even when you know what you should do when you travel, sometimes you’re in a hurry and common sense along with good travel planning escape you. It happens to the best of us.

I’d also like to add that traveling by yourself is a completely different game than traveling with your family, particularly when you have young children in tow.

We’re currently road tripping with an almost-three-year-old who is somewhat potty trained, but not quite. That in itself is a challenge, as you’ll see in my epic fails list. But just go ahead and tack on a few million more things to pack, allow more time than you’d think you’d ever need to get to your destination, and acknowledge that there’ll be a very high unpredictability factor. You’ll be off to a realistic start of what to expect.

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far on my current travels. Some are old reminders and some are newly discovered.

Travel Wins

Free Stuff

The first stop on our road trip from North Carolina was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Getting there wasn’t too bad since it was under a 4-hour drive from our home, so our trip started off smoothly. We spent a week there with family over the Fourth of July holiday week.

When we were packing up the vehicle to get ready to leave after our vacation, a family nearby was doing the same. As most families do, they had so many things in their large SUV that they couldn’t fit the mesh bag of beach toys they had purchased during their time in Myrtle Beach.

Thanks to my husband’s impeccable timing and just being at the right place at the right time, they were ready to go and didn’t have room or the need to bring the beach toys back home with them. So they asked my husband if he had any young kids who could use them.

Needless to say, my three-year-old got a barely-used set of awesome beach toys that he used on the next leg of our trip to the east coast of Florida.

Did we really have the room for them? No. Did we make room for them anyway? Yes. Free stuff is hard to pass up. Am I right?

Essential Oil Spray

I use essential oils for many different things. I am not a fan of Deet products so using something less toxic but still effective is very necessary both at home and when we travel.

I mixed up a quick homemade bug spray, in addition to the citronella essential oil that I was planning to bring and use. This spray had a mix of lemongrass, grapefruit, peppermint and lavender in it with witch hazel as the base. It is perfect to spray on clothes and skin to keep bugs at bay without being too harsh.

It also ended up being more useful than I ever intended.

Since it smelled lovely and fresh, it worked well in many situations when I needed an air freshener. I used it to freshen up the air-conditioner vent in our hotel room. I used it to freshen up our car after a long day of travel. I used it to freshen up my suitcase and the clothes in it. I used it to freshen up my hair after a day in the saltwater.

What other ways will I use it during our trip? Only time will tell.

The Right Clothes

One of the things I struggle with during travel is packing the right clothes. I tend to pack for the “what-ifs” instead of the “what do I really need”. Hence, I overpack every single trip. (See epic fails).

However, I will say that I have improved on choosing the right clothes for the journey. I pack clothes that can be easily mixed and matched. I  do well with choosing good traveling clothes that won’t wrinkle in the car during the ride or when in the suitcase for days on end. I bring a nice mix of items that can easily be dressed up or down, depending on the situation.

I did well with my son’s packing, too. I felt prepared for any situation and that he’d be comfortable and appropriately dressed no matter where we went or what we did. I’ll take that as a win!

We’re almost two-weeks into our trip and I don’t feel that I missing anything vital that I should have packed when it comes to clothing. Now shoes? That’s another story.

Epic Travel Fails

The Wrong Shoes

I already know that I bring too many shoes. But the wrong shoes? There’s absolutely no excuse. I pretty much live in flip-flops at home and on beach trips, so I already know which ones work for me and which do not.

I have long held the motto that cheap shoes are no substitute for a more expensive, more versatile and more comfortable shoe—especially when you know you are going to be walking a lot. Flip-flops are no different.

But what did I do? I left my comfortable, yet slightly worn, flip flops at home and instead opted to buy a few new cheap ones to bring along for the trip. This is by far one of my most epic fails on this trip.

The cheap ones were fine for a few days or for infrequent use, but as time went along and the more places I had to walk—I realized I had made a rookie mistake and a costly one.

My feet hurt. I had a developing blister. No real foot support. I was cranky! And kicking myself (with uncomfortable shoes) because I know better.

I did bring one good pair of sandals that I knew were great for walking but were also becoming worn and were not quite what I would’ve used on a daily basis. The only problem? They tore. More crankiness.

I can assure you that I will NEVER make this mistake again. I’ll also be buying more flip flops today. The good kind!


The downside of a road trip versus a plane flight is the mindset that you have all this extra room. This mindset inevitably leads to bringing more stuff than you really need. Again, it’s the “what-if”mentality instead of the “what do I really need” mentality.

Though I did a relatively good job of choosing the right clothes (just the wrong shoes), I still brought way, way, way too much. I should have followed my own advice and went back through my packed suitcase and taken out half of what was in there.

Then there’s the beach stuff, the food, the drinks, the electronics, and so on and so on. Next thing you know, you’re lugging half your house with you on your trip. Not to mention staying in a hotel where the parking garage is across the street and only accessible via a skybridge and elevators. Or that your next stay is in a second-story apartment building.

Not ideal, my friends. Not ideal. Less is more!

Potty Problems

I actually thought I had planned and prepared for this part of the journey fairly well. Nope!

We’re in the interim of almost potty trained but not quite there. This lends itself to all sorts of issues. Is there a bathroom nearby? Can we get there quickly and easily? Will my child be able to hold it until we get there? Swimmy diaper now or later? How much juice did he drink today?

Extra pull-ups. Cloth diapers. Diapers for the pool. A little bit of everything, just in case.

But still, accidents occur.

I didn’t realize that pull-ups leaked frequently when you’re child is sitting in them for a long road trip. I had a car seat protector at home from his infant days that I never even thought to bring. I should have!

Swimmy diapers, both cloth and disposable, are great at the pool and when you’re actually at the beach, but that’s it. Even if you expect that your child can hold it for a short walk or ride to the pool or the beach, it’s my experience that he won’t. Maybe it’s just my kid or maybe it’s Murphy’s Law. Total leakage at the worst possible times.

Some minor adjustments were made and everything has been going fine. But, you just never know. When you gotta go, you gotta go…

Well, these were my standout travel wins and woes thus far. Let’s see what else happens along the way! It’s always an adventure.

Do you have any travel wins or epic fails you’d like to share? I’d love to read them!


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