Among the many difficult realities exposed by the 2020 pandemic is just how freaking far most of us are separated from our families. Mobility is one of America’s most treasured rights, so it’s become normal to live a thousand miles from mom and dad. Until this year, it also seemed normal to simply hop on a flight a few times annually to bridge the distance.
That all changed with COVID-19. There were the airport shutdowns. The shelter-in-place orders. The troubling second wave of infections and morphing rules around interstate travel. Anyone missing family has been faced with a tough choice: (a) skip seeing your parents or grandparents this year, (b) take a health risk and hop on a packed flight, or (c) pack your kids in the car for a multi-day drive. The clear choice for most families, including mine, has been that last option. But let’s not call it an easy choice. Stuffing yourself, your spouse, and multiple kids in one car for 20 hours is to risk existential questions about the purpose of even having a family. If you’re not careful, you’ll be Googling “How do I make my children wards of the state?” before you reach your parents driveway. But with a little planning, you don’t necessarily have to suffer. Here’s what I learned on our recent 40-hour, 2,494-mile round-trip drive from Santa Fe to Whitefish, Montana, to visit my mother-in-law.
Train Like a Marathoner
Running 26.2 miles off the couch is possible, but you won’t