Disclaimer: It is not the intent of the author nor this website to offend anyone despite what the article title says. However if you have at any point in time read anything that I have written chances are you were offended. I am fully prepared to received the barrage of hateful e-mails, comments, and other rhetoric which proclaim me to be insensitive, a moron, clueless, or other various commentary questioning my humanity, manhood, competence, and/or contribution to the human race. For those who are in agreement with me to you I say, you are my friends and you rock.
Recently my family and I headed over one state east to visit my parents for the weekend. It was a chance to get together with them and my brother as well as take in a Major League Baseball game with my father, brother, and son. It was his first professional baseball game which was a huge milestone in my life, to him it was a chance to eat food. The drive is typically 3.5 hrs long, for us we usually stretch it into 4 hrs with a stop or two. Let me say this particular trip, out and back, combined to be the longest 8 hrs of driving I may have ever done. Now for a frame of reference let me tell you that I have driven from Colorado to Ohio (which takes one through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio) a 24 hr trip one-way by myself, with no radio or a/c. Still this was by far the longest I’ve ever experienced.
Why was this so painful? I like road-tripping. I enjoy packing a car to its fullest and venturing out seeing the country and it gives you a totally legitimate excuse to stockpile snacks for the road (jerky and Twizzlers are MUSTS). There are so many wonderful experiences one can have on a road-trip that I shudder to think why one would choose flying. Now I understand the obvious being time constraints, I get that, I really do. However if time constraints aren’t a factor then why would one fly instead of drive?
It seems now-a-days that if you sneeze the wrong direction they’ll kick you off the plane. If you have a child who just doesn’t get that their emotional outbursts violate FAA airspace, booted. Wear clothing that someone finds offensive, or not wear enough clothing, kicked off. Need to pack a few extras for yourself and maybe others? Then be prepared to sell your first-born and their first-born to pay the additional fees. Can’t live off of 2 oz of fluids for 2 weeks, then get ready to have your stuff chucked before you even get on. I think I’ve made my point.
The glorious nature of the road trip is the opportunity to experience the United States from ground level to see what others miss by flying over. Example, two years ago we drove from the Twin Cities to Yellowstone National Park. That’s across Minnesota, through North Dakota (east to west) and then through Montana into Wyoming, roughly 17-18 hrs not including stops. We drove through the night and stopped in a small hotel in Montana. After eating breakfast the next morning, we exited the hotel and it was like we were in a far away place. The air smelled different, the landscape was obviously different as there was elevation! When we first caught a glimpse of snow covered peaks we all giggled with glee (and I nearly peed myself…..I thought you’d all want to know that). We spotted pronghorns in the plains and spotted eagles in the skies. Things we would have missed had we flown. Part of the fun of our vacation was the drive to Yellowstone and the drive back. We drove through the Bighorn Mountains, Black Hills, and Badlands, and I cannot tell you how cool it was to drive through mountain valleys, especially when you come from the flat lands. We got to see the plains and the wind turn tall grass into waves of green (amber waves of grain come in the fall).
It seemed like the opportunity for adventure was around every bend. Granted there have to be special preparations for road tripping and I want to share a few of ours and I’d love to hear from you all about what you……but me first.
Special Bionic Family Road Trip Necessities and Preparations
To ensure awesomeness on your next road trip I STRONGLY recommend the following:
1. Road snacks – I suggest fresh fruit, Twizzlers, jerky (bison if you can get your hands on some), Fiber One bars, chocolate covered espresso beans and some salty treat like chex mix. Brownies and cookies rock too!
2. Small Cooler - Fast food sucks and sits like a nasty brick in your stomach after you eat. Plus there are bags and cups and other assorted mess cluttering up the vehicle. A small cooler with sandwiches and drinks helps to save $$ and save your family from having to toss their cookies along the road or out the window. We own a JetBoil which helps turn a road-side rest or scenic overlook into a mobile diner. Hot food out of one pot, or boil-in-a-bag – your choice.
3. Entertainment – For all parties involved. We drive a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee, it has a tape deck and CD player. We use iPods so we still rock the tape player device and play our iPod stuff through that. Not only do we load it with tunes, but podcasts too. Our little guy has plenty of magazines (Highlights, Ranger Rick, Nat Geo for Kids), activities books, ISpy in a bottle (curious? ask my wife), and other assorted toys and things all in a backpack. Throw in a Leapster Explorer and a portable DVD player and all parties are happy. Not only does he get a little screen time when he wants it, we can unplug him without him spazzing out.
4. Extra Cash and Change - We keep the change around for tolls just in case, and the cash for treats like ice cream and such, because hey…..it’s a road trip!
5. Neck Pillows – Need ‘em. Helps everyone sleep in relative comfort, also allows for one person to sleep while the other drives. Definitely a must if you’re driving through the night, 2 hrs on, 2hrs off.
6. Spare blankets – Sometimes the driver needs the a/c on to keep them awake or the window open, those sleeping need to stay warm. Again we drive a 1996 truck so that mean no dual/quad climate control. We have one climate and we all share.
7. Spare clothing - Pack a extra pair of clothes separate from the rest in case of spills and/or other messes (like excitable urination), also add jackets/coats in traveling to a higher elevation and/or colder climate.
So the next time you are considering a vacation look into driving and leave the flying to those with less heart and a lack of adventure. (Statistics prove both claims, I polled myself and those were the conclusions I came to). Concerned about vehicle wear and tear and gas mileage? Rent a vehicle, thanks to unlimited miles you can drive the snot out of someone else’s ride and save yours! You may be surprised about how much less it could cost! So this summer I encourage you all to ditch the baggage claim and claim the open road as your own. Who knows we just might cross paths; I’ll be the one passing you on the left so be sure to yield the lane to me because of course it’s my highway.
So what do you find helpful or as something that is needed when you road trip? Weigh in, share stories, tips, tricks, and advice. And until next time……. Adventure On!