Car trips come with a lot of baggage

The trick with any long roadtrip is postponing the first ‘are we there yet?’


We travel like refugees these days. There’s no such thing as a weekend away with an overnight bag, every trip is a movement of great parts. First off, I must consider my kit. Middle-aged man in lycra that I am, a bike must be glued to the back of motor for every foray up the road, as well as a box for wetsuit, aforementioned fetching lycra outfits, helmets, footwear, powders, lubricants and energy bars.

I should stop pretending and just admit I’m off to a certain type of club in Hamburg. But that’s all I need. Once the bike is on the bus and the box is packed, clothing isn’t an issue. Jeans, trackie bottoms, T-shirt and a change of undergunners and I am good to go for days, weeks even, like a proper bloke.

But then the ladies arrive. With their baggage.

All right, each child needs their own wheelie case. They couldn’t possibly be expected to share, that would be abhorrent, almost as ridiculous as being asked to carry that case. They can’t remember a time before wheels on cases, a time when you considered what you deemed necessary before embarking. So, one wheelie case each. Plus a toybag. This is currently filled with model ponies but will change depending on whatever occupies their attention at any given time.

So, a wheelie case each, a toybag and a colouring and book bag. There may be time to read on these travels, and imagine the criminality of it if one of them were hit by the urge to create and had no surface on which to express their intent. Colouring, sketching, reading. Check.

That must be it, we’re only visiting Granny. Are ye mad, Dad? What is this, 1995? Don’t forget the technology. I attempt to back out the drive but return to the front door on three separate occasions. Why? Chargers, the bane of modern society. Chargers for phones, cameras, laptops, tablets. Oh yeah, we all need our personal screens. The world might end if we lose our bars. Stick them in the charger bag. Yeah, beside the art bag Picassos.

The trick with any long roadtrip is postponing the first “are we there yet?” or similarly nerve-shredding “how much longer?” The latter particularly infuriates as it is said in a tone that implies you have personally imprisoned them in solitary confinement without a thought for their well-being and with no end in sight. There is no limitation either on the length of journey that these queries can be applied to; they have made appearances on the school run.

But on a long run you can’t have the nags raise their head too early or a potential mobile bloodbath is in the offing. Each trip needs to be broken down into manageable bite-size chunks. Hour one: art. Hour two: iPad, stop for food. Final hour: music of choice/beatings. The final hour will always boil down to two options, one of which will be beatings. The previous hours will dictate which is chosen. You outline the timetable at the start, and then hope they will not beat you too hard at the end.

Territory in the rear of the car also brings to mind the Irish love of land. Nothing pleases either child more than to steal a little space on the far side of half way. This can be achieved using neutral bags as bluffs.

They didn’t lick their travel tendencies from the rocks; their mother will have arrived with a case, a food bag, a gift bag, a laundry bag of clothes that weren’t quite dry on leaving and have to be spread across the parcel shelf area, her own laptop bag, a couple of handbags and three bottles of mineral water. God forbid someone gets thirsty. These neutral objects can be used to steal land in the centre of the rear area before populating it with your own property, much to the disgust of your travel partner.

Even so, there is no guarantee that anything will remain in situ while we are in motion due to the inevitable presence of the pair of mutts.

For four years now we have forgotten, nearly every time before we travel, to organise accommodation for the damn dogs. And so they have become travel companions, acknowledging that when the car fills they need to make ready for a couple of nights, sometimes a week, of boot dwelling. And as one of them isn’t the greatest traveller, and neither like to sit still, we have often had rather flavoursome additions to the already cluttered car mix.

The bike sits up top, chilly but clean. The rest of us marinade in the pit. A great, Irish, family weekend away.