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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Things I'll Do Differently On Our Next Road Trip

Three Things I'll Do Differently On Our Next Road Trip

I am not intimidated by the road trip. I have had many an opportunity to jump in the car headed to somewhere: Maryland to New York & Canada, Virginia to Disney World, Idaho to Los Angeles, Idaho to Washington, Utah to Washington, family reunions in Yellowstone and Utah. I consider most of my trips good travel memories. However, there is one trip that stands out as a sort of failure to me.

Spencer and I had the ridiculously cool experience of packing up everything into our '98 Camry and hitting the open road from Utah to Virginia. Sounds perfect right? A young married couple and their trusty pup tour the good old USA. We should have stopped to see and do all the things. And I should have enough visual proof the trip to fill at least 3 scrapbooks. Yeah, that's not what happened. It was my first time on such a classic road trip - I have never felt more American than I did when we drove over the Mississippi River - and no one will ever know it actually happened!

This post could go on about the excitement of crossing each state line, the big beautiful blue sky. You have a right to bask in the nostalgia that is the cross country road trip. Unfortunately that's not what I have to offer because I have nothing to show for it. What I do have are my regrets. Thinking about that trip summons a sharp lump in my throat, stuck in the thought of the so-far-from-perfect road trip. I may have a travel complex now.

I have to validate that trip now. I have to represent myself as a seasoned traveler. I have to make traveling one of my "things." But I don't really want to. You might consider it. If you do I suggest taking time to make sure it fits your interests and lifestyle.

What I really want to do is plan ahead so I'm not caught feeling sorry for myself again. There are 3 things that I hope to remember to do next time, because there WILL be a next time...

On Your Next Road Trip Remember To...

1. Take More Pictures!
cross country road trip with pets
Not taking pictures is the number one thing I regret the most. That's why I put it first. The only pictures I have are of a restaurant we ate at in Kansas, which I can't find, and this one of Muggle sleeping on our big pile of stuff in the backseat.

Spencer was not into hanging out at many touristy things, such as presidential libraries (we passed 3!) or searching out "Triple D joints," so there wouldn't have been a ton of attractions to take pictures of. Still, our trip would have been interesting enough if we had taken pictures of what we did do. I could have documented state signs, funny license plates, jamming out to my music playlists, and the gorgeous landscape. Phone cameras these days are freaking amazing. You could take some serious portraiture. It was such a waste for me to not try. Now that I have a DSLR I'm trying to put it to good use.

2. Read Reviews, But Also Trust Your Instincts
Originally I tried to plan this trip from point to point. I loved using Roadtrippers for our trip to LA and I was eager to do it again, especially since it was Spencer's birthday and I wanted to stop at something awesome. I researched each possible stop and read review after review to get a feel for what they offered. Online reviews can be pretty important. Often they have some very valuable information. It's always good to make informed decisions.

At the same time, though, you need to trust your own judgement because you might miss out on something wonderful. There was a prairie dog zoo right off the highway that we had planned to see, but some of the reviews said it wasn't well taken care of. Even though we wanted to see the little guys SO BAD we decided to keep driving based on the reviews. Now I think that's Spencer's biggest regret of the trip. I always wonder if maybe the owners had seen the reviews and changed the way they ran the place. You just never know.

3. Allow Yourself More Downtime
Spencer (and I) was so set on getting to Virginia quickly that we didn't sleep well and spent our breaks at rest stops and in restaurant parking lots. So not only did we not spend any time at interesting places, we didn't spend much time outside of the car at all. If we had taken breaks more often and at neat attractions the trip would have been even more enjoyable.

The weather was beautiful on our entire trip so we definitely could have at least hung out at some parks. I also would suggest not being afraid to add an extra day - unnecessary deadlines lead to unnecessary stress, hence the lack of sleep. If you use your time wisely there won't be any reason to worry. It could be you'll get there when you get there.

Thanks to Spencer's schedule we made it safely to Virginia in extremely good time. The car didn't die on the way, despite it's being incapable of making it out of the driveway three days before we left, so that was awesome. Muggle made it in one piece too. For our next trip we have a friends wedding coming up back in Ogden. It's crazy that we'll be going there so soon after leaving. Don't worry we'll be flying, which is a whole different story. Maybe someday I'll consider travel a more desirable pastime. What about you? Join the ETLT email list to participate in the Make Leisure Sweeter hobby workshop to see what works for you. Try travel, writing, drawing, or something else you've always wanted for one month and see if it makes the cut.

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Kristyn here. I'm really good at Googling, dreaming, and thinking outside the box. Someday I'm going to save all the puppies and perform on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

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