Monday 13 January 2014

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5 Reasons We're Not Very Good at Road Tripping

I have a blog I like to read called Tips on Road Tripping. It's about a family of six who take these crazy long drives across the country and stop in some of the strangest places imaginable, all while making it look like they're having the time of their lives (I highly suspect that someone in that family has taken a Photoshop class because they always look so happy). I enjoy following Joe, Deborah and their family on their adventures, and while I've always said that road tripping wasn't for me, secretly I've always wondered if they were on to something special. 

Fast forward to this years Christmas break and circumstances (aka my daughter deciding that she doesn't want to fly any more) led us to plan our first real road trip (I don't count the One Direction version). At least we called it a road trip. The Tips for Road Tripping gang would probably laugh at a simple 18 hour drive, but for us it seemed like an enormous endeavour. 18 hours would easily be the longest period of time that we'd ever spent in a car together, excluding the time that we got lost driving to Edmonton. So to be more accurate, it would be the longest period of time we'd ever intentionally spent in a car together.  That's a scary thought to dwell on while loading luggage into the van. 

crowded van bad seating arrangement road trip
We probably could have found a more comfortable seating arrangement

So how was it? Well we survived. Truthfully it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.  We split the drive in two and stayed a night in Portland in both directions leaving only 9 hour shifts behind the wheel which really didn't seem too terrible. Still, I'm not sure that it's an excursion that we'll be in a rush to repeat. Despite what our friends at Tips on Road Tripping say, I'm not sure that road tripping is for everyone, and I'm pretty sure it's not for us. Here's five reasons I'm fairly certain we're not well suited to the road tripping lifestyle:

#1 - I like to be in control so I don't share the driving

I'd like to share the driving, really I would, but there's something in me that won't let me. Truth be told, pilots are lucky I let them fly the plane without me being in the cockpit offering suggestions. I seem to have some sort of control fetish, and that makes for really long days behind the wheel. It will only get worse next year when the boy is eligible to get his drivers license. There's zero chance of me relinquishing my grip on the wheel at that point. Plus there's the rule that the driver controls the radio, and we all know why that's important don't we? 

#2 - Apparently I drive at the world's most inconvenient speed

I'm not a speed demon, but if the speed limit on a road is 70 mph then I usually keep my pace somewhere between 70-80 mph. That seems reasonable to me, but for about 50% of the drivers on the I-5 last week, that's the speed a semi-truck climbing up a 45 degree incline while pulling a trailer full of anchors should be traveling and I must be some sort of pace car to be moving as slowly as I was. The other half of the drivers obviously thought that I was some kind of meth-fueled, speed crazed Canadian who had no respect for American speed limits. Add in the fact that I actually signal when I change lanes and I think everybody was completely confused by my driving habits.

#3 - The freedom to stop wherever you want

Most people who like road tripping will tell you that being able to stop and explore things that catch your eye is one of the best parts of driving instead of flying. I respectfully disagree. I'm a man, and my goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Having to stop every time my wife spots something of interest doesn't speed things along at all. Besides, the only thing that ever catches my wife's eye while we're driving are outlet malls. Well, that and the occasional road sign which everybody feels the need to scream at the top of their lungs causing me to nearly drive the van into the ditch.

Yolo road sign California road trip

#4 - The service isn't as good as flying

Those of you who think it's a hassle trying to get a drink on an airline should try and get somebody to pass you a Diet Coke in my van. Three kids sitting in the back with their headphones on, and no matter how much I wave and motion, nobody is looking up from their iPad. Unless of course we drive past the YOLO county limit sign. That they all miraculously see. Lori isn't much better as a nine hour drive is the perfect opportunity for a nine hour Candy Crush marathon that means all drink requests have to "just wait until I finish this level". 

#5 - You don't get miles while driving. 

Every time I passed a sign detailing the remaining distance to San Francisco I would mentally figure out how many miles we would earn to our frequent flyer account if we stopped and flew from right at that point. With Alaska running double miles on most of their Bay Area routes right now, it was a little depressing to keep figuring out what we were missing out on. Fortunately, we shouldn't have to miss out on it again. After two 18 hour drives my daughter has decided that she's perfectly fine with flying again. Apparently road trips are the miracle cure for fear of flying. I wonder if Joe and Deborah know about this?

Written by Steve Pratt