It's looking like we'll hop in the car and drive about 250 miles to be with a favorite cousin for Christmas. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to share a peek into what makes a road trip more tolerable for me.
If I'm already on a vacation and driving between various destinations is part of the plan, that's one thing. Say, for example, driving Route 66, or hitting several national parks and monuments in one week-long or ten-day stretch. Or spending a week and a half snaking up the unforgettable California coast with several days of winery visits interspersed. On those occasions the scenery makes it more enjoyable, without a doubt. But I'm not the kind of gal who wants to take off on a three-week road trip to the west coast...let me fly out there and THEN we can drive. (Of course, my own lack of enthusiasm for such does not prevent me from designing a humdinger of a road trip for a client.)
So, anyway, we're talking a four and a half hour trip, really not bad in the scheme of things. What are the things that go with us inside the cabin of our auto?
First, a supply of snacks: I need something sweet and something savory. That usually means box of crackers, a couple of granola bars, a bag of roasted cashews, a bag of dried pineapple. We also carry a loaf of some kind of hearty bread. If I'm feeling like a real adult I might take a couple of bananas, too.
Beverages: I wish I could say that wine makes a great road trip sipper, but, alas, that is not legal in most states, and besides, it would make me too sleepy. Instead we'll take a Thermos of strong, hot coffee (decaf, doctor's orders), a few diet Dr. Peppers and some juice boxes. That Thermos full of coffee is not sweetened because darling hubby likes it bitter, so this means that I also carry some sugar packets or a baggie with cubes, plus a spoon, so I can doctor mine.
Music: I must have a supply of music, whether that be on my iPod or in a thick folder of CDs. Nothing too quiet for me on a road trip, as the music is meant to help keep me alert. Our musical tastes run far and wide, so I've got to pack a little bit of everything because I never know what kind of musical mood I might be in from one hour to the next. And you've gotta have music that both driver and passenger(s) can live with. It'll just make people cranky to have to sit through an hour of music they hate when they are cooped up in a car all day long.
Comfort: Gotta wear shoes that slip off and on. And a sweater in case my husband wants more A.C. (or less heat) than I do. Speaking of which, I really should get my car heater fixed at some point...it just doesn't get that cold where I live, so I keep putting it off. Say, the next two or three people who hire me to plan a trip can consider themselves my heater saviors.
Maps: Being a travel geek, I love me some maps. So the car will always contain every map we might need along the way and then some. I've never used a GPS because I dig the folding and unfolding of the paper (ok, maybe more the unfolding than the refolding) and being able to see the big picture of what lies ahead.
It doesn't hurt to make a list of the things you'll need, and then to position those things in the car so that they are easily accessible to the driver and/or navigator.
Have a great trip this holiday season, get there safely, enjoy the company, and hurry home only if necessary!