September 3, 2010

Learning About Yourself on a Road Trip

A few months ago my wife and I took a road trip. We had talked about it for years but had never gone.. We even had a name: "The Drive Till You Drop Road Trip."  So, armed with a lot of hope, enough luggage to be gone for half a year, and 30 GB of camera memory, off we went. Nearly 5,000 miles, 3,200 photographs, and 25 days later we arrived home, still talking to each other, and still very much in love. Our journey took us to eight western states and on a trip that we wondered why we waited so long to take. What did we learn?  Here are a few highlights:

Planning a major trip together teaches compromise and patience. For something this involved, we began planning 6 months before leaving in late May. Thank goodness for the Internet and AAA's maps. With a set limit of days away and so many places we could see, there was a lot of compromise involved. After some give and take on both our parts, we developed a viable itinerary.

You learn to adjust even the best-made plans. Consistently rotten weather for a good portion of the trip forced us to re-route and re-plan on the fly. In late May we didn't expect to encounter snow, hail, sleet, days of heavy rain, fog, and temperatures in the 40's. We certainly didn't pack for it. A laptop and WIFI allowed for last minute reservation changes.

See America up close and personal. The country looks totally different from the window of a car than from the window of an airplane. Small towns are often interesting, welcoming and attractive. People are generally friendly and helpful. Tell them you are on a long road trip and everyone expresses envy. Little known attractions and historical sites are everywhere. With the freedom of a car,  we were free to pick and choose.

See your traveling partner up close and personal. There is no better opportunity to learn more about your traveling partner and yourself  than being in close proximity for 25 days. My wife and I  both came home feeling the time together was a tremendous bonding experience. Even after 34 years of marriage we discovered new things about each other than will help us weather the next 34 years. Click here for a post about learning more about your partner.

Time away from routine is important. In an earlier post, I wrote about the benefits of taking a vacation. The change in your schedule, the different foods, sights, and sounds can act as a tremendous dash of refreshment. Having someone else do the cooking and cleaning is hard to turn down.

Create memories. We finally decided to take the trip because we began to worry we'd run out of the ability or opportunity if we kept delaying. Now, we have the satisfaction of doing what we set out to do, and creating memories that nothing can take away from us. Of course, over 3,000 photos help us remember it all. But, it doesn't take much for one of us to recall something about the trip and the other to chime in with all sorts of details.

A Road Trip can be a tremendous experience. If you have the chance and the ability I heartily urge you to go for it. If you have been on a similar trip, I'd love to read about your experiences. Where did you go?  How long was the trip? Would you do it again. Please add a comment below.

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  1. Great post and pictures. Did I see Old Faithful?

    Trips are indeed awesome; they are great memory makers. What's better than being together now at a family meal and saying "Do you remember when ....."

    In 1994 we started family vacations with our kids, ages 8, 6, and 3. The first adventure was a driving trip to an American classic, Yellowstone. Forty one states and three countries later we are still going strong, although now we tend to use holidays to meet up since we span 4 different locations (including one in another country).

    I really enjoy driving trips, but they are rare for me now. I look forward to these road trips when I do create the opportunity to cut back my work.

    Best regards.

  2. Yes, you did see Old Faithful on the picture page. It goes off about every 74 minutes and still packs in the tourists.

    I grew up taking a family all-night vacation drive from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh every summer to see our grandparents. How my Dad stayed awake overnight for that 300 mile trip I'll never know. The three boys were asleep in the back-back of the station wagon.

    It is very helpful now that both daughters and families and my parents all live in the Phoenix area. When my wife and I want to travel it gives us more freedom to go wherever the spirit moves us.