Our small Indiana town travels might appear to be easy and mess-free. But here’s a little-known fact: travel writing is a dirty job. Oh, it might seem like an easy, fabulous thing to do, but let me tell you what: things happen.

With four humans in one car for hours at a time…things can get downright ugly. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at three Little Indiana adventures. You know, the icky stuff that goes on after the camera is put away, as well as travel tips we’ve picked up along the way.

#1 Jones Robotic Dairy in Star City, Indiana

The Truth about Travel Writing

The Truth about Travel Writing

A robotic dairy sounds pretty awesome, right? That’s what we thought, too. We were ready and raring to go. It was a bit of a haul for us so we did what any smart parents do: we packed a nice lunch for the car and took off! Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches and Carrot Sticks. It would keep the kids entertained and quiet for a good part of the trip.

Now, MapQuest managed to give us a rather round-about route to Star City, Indiana. We did a bit of zigging and zagging. I think it was the zagging that did in Kid #2. At first glance, we thought he had choked on something. As my husband was pulling over, well, Kid #2 informed us as to the exact contents of his stomach.

Here we are pulled over at the side of the road, plenty far from home. For this day trip, we had managed to forget a change of clothes. But even worse–what do you do with a car seat that is full of partly digested lunch? If you are me, you: #1. Cry and #2 Realize what a good story this will make one day so you direct your husband to a home nearby to ask permission to use a hose and rinse off the seat before you also lose your lunch. No kidding.

The kindly owners of Jones Robotic Dairy have a granddaughter who had a few clothes just perfect for Kid #2. That disaster was diverted. Kid #2 was stylin’ in brown plaid pants and a brown striped shirt. Of course, he smelled a little off, but we were at a dairy farm so it blended right in.

Since that time we have learned to always carry along disinfecting wipes “just in case.” They are perfect for wiping down car doors and car-seat buckles.

#2. Spencer County

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana: Travel by Car is Ugly…but Boats are A-OK!

For those of you unfamiliar with Spencer County, you are missing out! Home to Holiday World (and so much more), in the Summer, the green rolling hills, fields, and wooded areas make for absolutely gorgeous scenery. Really, it makes me belt out “50 Nifty United States” or “Indiana” (my version of Oklahoma with the appropriate substitution) songs for some reason.

Unfortunately, Kid #2 does not share my affinity for classic tunes. Or, perhaps it is only the rolling hills. Either way, when he made his opinion known, it also happened to be very warm outside. Some might even call it boiling. To top it off, two of our four car windows refuse to roll down. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Let’s just say that we learned to never, ever allow Kid #2 to drink milk in the car again. According to my husband, milk turns to butter in our son’s stomach. We now know to always carry around a small bottle of laundry detergent for emergency clothes washing. We would need it two more times that trip alone.

#3. Twenty Restaurant and Piano Bar in Wabash, Indiana

Tips for Travel Writers

Tips for Travel Writers

Picture it: soft music playing, glasses clinking, low laughter. It would have been a romantic evening for my husband, Jeremy, and I at Twenty Restaurant and Piano Bar in Wabash, Indiana, but for the addition of Kid #2  (13 months at the time). We were determined to make the best of it.

It was easy enough, at least, at first. Our server was friendly, the atmosphere was fantastic, and the Twenty menu was phenomenal. The food? Well, after our salad and appetizer we couldn’t wait for dinner and dessert. That is until it happened.

We heard a noise. A really strange noise coming from Kid #2. My husband says, and I quote, “He’s percolating!” I laugh and then say, “Well, pick him up!” That is when, to our utmost horror, we notice that not only was Kid #2 percolating, it had bubbled up and over his diaper, dropping onto the pristine high chair, and a blob even fell onto the floor below. Hubs rushed off to our Charley Creek Inn room a floor above, baby gold oozing against his arm.

Me? Well, I stammered something about our baby exploding and needing something to clean up a mess (while apologizing profusely, of course). To their credit, they whisked it quickly (and quietly) away and were oh so nice about it. I sat down. And waited.

Then I realized: My husband will never, ever come down after what just happened. I just knew he would hide in our room. So–they sent it to our room. I headed up the stairs, absolutely mortified. Opening the door to our room, the smell about knocked me off my feet. Hearing the sounds of a baby happily playing in the bathtub did nothing for my mood. So, I burst into tears. Then, I did what I also do: I wrote it down–and laughed. I did not want to forget that our poor server was a new hire.

The next morning, the staff teased us a little bit, which I honestly appreciated. If they could laugh about it, well by golly, so could I. It was our first brush with disaster and we’ve since learned a lot.

Travel with Kids

Indiana Travel Tips

Indiana Travel Tips

That’s Little Indiana for you. Travel with kids can be messy. It can be unpredictable. But–it certainly makes for a good story.

We now have a checklist of ’emergency” items for travel with kids. Disinfecting wipes, a small bottle of laundry detergent, and resealable plastic bags are on that list. If you head out on the road (rug-rats or not), you might want to put it on yours too. “Just in case.”

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is Little Indiana.

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