HOW TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ROAD TRIP
1| Make plans, but stay flexible
Before I left on my trip, I made calendars, lists, and overly detailed schedules for daily travel that included what time I needed to leave one place in order to get to the next place down to the exact minute. I didn’t end up using those insanely comprehensive plans after the first day, but it made me feel better to know that I had a general plan for how things could go down.
I needed to know who I was staying with and for how long, but twice I changed plans for the better. Once was to stay with my second cousins in Spartanburg, and the other was to stay another day in Dallas and recharge. Because I am ever-so-slightly anal-retentive, it was hard for me to accept that plans are changeable. But being flexible made my trip so much more enjoyable, so make changes when necessary.
2| Ask for, and accept, people’s hospitality
When I first started asking people to host me for a night (or five), I felt pretty embarrassed. I knew there was no way I could afford to pay for hotels every night, but it’s very humbling to put yourself at someone else’s mercy. Even more so when many of my hosts went above and beyond by making me food or buying me dinners. Honestly, I was so blown away by people’s generosity. But what I realized is, people mostly like being hospitable and generous. It feels very one-sided to say “I allowed people to show generosity by asking for it” but….I think that’s true. And I also realized that while I thrive on traveling to see friends, many people want to stay in touch but have no desire to travel to do so. So in some bizarre way, they were grateful to ME for making the journey to see them. Win/win.
3| Be a considerate guest
Of course, “allowing” people to be hospitable doesn’t erase your responsibility as a guest! I am generally pretty helpless as a homemaker, but I tried to do small chores wherever possible to show my thanks. At the very least, I made sure to leave my room/bathroom as clean or cleaner than I found it. Another, even easier, thing that I realized: people genuinely like sharing their lives with someone else. So as a grateful guest, I listened to stories, toured their cities, and complimented their homes. People are amazing, and they all have something unique to contribute. I’m so glad I got to get one step closer to the inner worlds of my friends and family, and I hope they enjoyed sharing themselves as much as I did.
4| Divide your time between the new and the familiar
Most of the fun of roadtripping comes from seeing new sights, but constant stimuli can be draining (for this introvert, at least). It was helpful to see new people in familiar locations, or familiar people in new locations, to balance the excitement of NEW with the comfort of FAMILIAR. Even when I was revisiting old haunts (especially in Tennessee and Texas), I made sure to try out new restaurants to keep the trip feeling fresh. I think I would have burnt out if I hadn’t made sure to intermix the old and the new.
5| Document your memories for future enjoyment
#32DaysInMyCar was just one month of my life, but thanks to blogging and pictures, I can relive the experience over and over in the future. Plus, I have found that moments FEEL more important when you take the time to take a picture or write a blog post about them. What is over-documenting in the present is a gift to the future!