Posts Tagged ‘car travel’

Our family car was a 53 Chevrolet like this one.

Sherrylee and I both grew up in families that liked to make road trips!. While we were still dating, her family decided one evening to drive through the night to Atlanta to shop at Rich’s Department Store—eight hours away! Her family used to drive from Fort Lauderdale up to Jacksonville, Florida to visit grandparents—only a six-hour drive today, but 8-10 hours before the interstate highway saved us from getting behind big trucks on a two-lane stretch or the red lights in small towns that stopped you even in the middle of the night after the sidewalks had been rolled up!

My family traveled from Fort Worth to Glasco, Kansas, every year to visit my grandparents. With Mom and Dad and the smallest child in the front seat and the three other children in the backseat–in the days before seatbelts, a/c in cars, and minivans–we always traveled through the night, mostly, however, to preserve my parents’ nerves, I suspect.

Last Friday Sherrylee mentioned that she thought we needed to, and Saturday morning, we decided to drive to Nashville to visit a dear friend who is very sick. We left on the 700-mile trip three hours later! Our plan was to return on Monday, but because of too many relatives in Nashville, a little car trouble, and the need for a predictably good internet connection for an LST board web conference, we did not get away until almost 7pm, so we spent the night in Memphis and drove in on Tuesday. I don’t do all-night drives anymore!

I’ve noticed among the younger people in our office—and that’s almost everyone else—that long car trips are not even a considered option. Those with children seem sometimes forced into them by the economics of travel, but they seem to dread the trip itself.

If you decide you might even try a longer road trip—for any reason, here are a few ideas to make it fun and easier for you.

  • Don’t try to cover so much ground that you are rushed—either leaving or arriving.My personal preference is no more than 8 hours per day when you have to get somewhere, although this trip to Nashville was eleven.
  • Don’t let meals and restaurants be what defines your trip!  It’s so easy to overeat and feel bloated while traveling. You are not getting that much exercise while riding in the car, so take it easy on the eating. Keep it simple and lighter!
  • Use good music, downloaded podcasts, and especially audiobooks to make the trip fly by! On this trip, Sherrylee and I listened first to Condolezza Rice’s book A Memoir of My Extraordinary Family, Ordinary Family and Me, which was quite interesting.  After that we started The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant. The book itself is very interesting, but the man who reads it mispronounces names of Hall-of-Fame baseball players, which I find particularly irritating.   We rent and return our audiobooks from Crackerbarrel restaurants, which makes them very reasonable. You just have to watch that you don’t buy a bunch of other stuff every time you stop.
  • Use a GPS, even a cheap one!  No single technological innovation has relieved my stress in driving more than a GPS system.  I’m never lost! If I miss a turn, the nice lady immediately recalculates and gets me on the right track. I know how far it is and how long it should take me, and if I need a detour around traffic (as we did yesterday in Arkansas!), it quite handily re-routes us through new territory. Also, I love that it looks for nearby restaurants and gas stations!
  • Make sure your car and tires are in good shape.  Nothing ruins a trip more than a blown tire or a leaky hose out in the middle of nowhere! I “risked” a bit on the trip to Nashville because I knew the car needed an oil change badly, but I got it done in Nashville and even replaced a tire that they discovered was worn while changing the oil.
  • Smartphones not only provide some security in case of a breakdown, but let you call ahead for hotel reservations or avoid inconveniencing someone you might be meeting. We were trying to meet someone for lunch in Little Rock who was driving to Nashville yesterday; we got stuck in a construction site jam after leaving Memphis, but because we both had cell phones, we were able to coordinate our travel and meet in DeValls, AR instead.
  • Allow for saying YES to some unplanned pleasure.  While driving through Little Rock, Sherrylee noticed a big antique mall, which to her is like a good bookstore is to me. Rather than being goal oriented and thinking, “No, we need to get home before 10pm, it was so nice to say, “Yes, sure—why not!”
  • Road trips are great times for longer conversations.  Turn the book off, turn the ballgame off, turn the music off, and see what interesting things can pop up in conversations between mile markers!

I’d love to hear your stories of road trips and what you do to make them fun!

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