Friday, September 10, 2010

The Perfect Road Trip

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." -- John Steinbeck

The biggest tip for the "perfect" road trip is to take the unexpected in stride--not to expect perfection. Enjoy the journey for what it is. This can be easy driving through gorgeous countryside or over a beautiful bridge, but not so when stuck in traffic or spending hours staring at nothingness. To enjoy a road trip, you have to enjoy the solitude (or togetherness with a travel companion) as well as the sites. It is rare to get that time to talk, or listen to music, play road games and have simple companionship or peace.

Did you take road trips as a child? Most of us remember them with a mixture of fondness and humor over the escapades. If you have a sibling (or two, three...), you probably remember fights over every little thing, including breathing on one another. My brother and I ended up with separate minivan rows, and still managed to tug on one another's seat belt or otherwise irritate each other from afar. At the same time, I recall many pleasant drives watching the road and landmarks roll by, listening to music and occasionally dozing. As a car sick prone child, I learned to sleep in the car to avoid nausea. I've had to fight that tendency somewhat in adulthood to be a decent travel companion (though college friends can recall trips where they got a kick out of my wide open mouth as I nodded off on excursions). We played everything from 20 questions, to the UHaul game (was this unique to us?), and my parents' favorite, "the silent game"--a very short lived game in our family.

A road trip with a spouse or friend(s) can be a great chance to reconnect. Obviously, there is a lot of time to talk and catch up, but even spending companionable time in silence or listening to music is something we rarely do. Audio books are a favorite of mine for travel as well and with satellite radio and podcasts, there's an unlimited world of entertainment. I get nostalgic for a moment over turning the radio dial and finding only one scratchy station, but that doesn't last long when I'm enjoying the Harry Potter audio books or a "This American Life" podcast on "Road Trips".

What are your favorite road trip memories? Your funniest mishap or misadventure on the road?

What are your must haves for the road? What games do you play, or entertainment do you prefer, if any?

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