|7/14/2021 2:26:00 PM|
Road Trip Rules
by Sharyn LonsdaleCongratulations! You are vaccinated and ready to travel. That trip you postponed from last summer is back on or maybe you’re taking it slow and taking a road trip.
My boyfriend Daniel and I have actually been taking road trips around Florida since last summer.
As I’m writing this, we are in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We traveled with our friend who is moving here, in a 22’ rental truck, towing a trailer and vehicle.
The truck, classified as medium by the company (it wasn’t), had a bench seat for three. Since I would be driving approximately zero miles of the 1800-mile journey, I parked myself in the middle of the bench, knees just making contact with the oversized and permanently fixed cup holder. To make up for my wise commitment to not drive the big rig, I assumed responsibility for navigation, snacks, beverages and entertainment,
This was by far the longest and most ambitious road trip I have ever participated in. Not so for my male companions, who being male companions, shared stories of driving 1300 and 1600 miles with just a nap or two in the car.
We planned to drive an average of 600 miles a day, spending two nights in hotels. The truck guy told us our vehicle would not be happy over 50 miles an hour, but it didn’t take long to determine that “Old Bessie,” as Daniel called her, was just fine at 70.
Our route was pretty straightforward, I-10 all the way. If it was up to me, I would stop everywhere from the beach in Destin, FL to barbecue in Houston, with detours for beignets in New Orleans and slot machines in Biloxi. The men had no such agenda. And the fact that we were in a definitely-not-medium truck, hampered our ability to “just turn off here.”
Road Rule Number One: Compromise: Unless you are on a deadline to arrive somewhere for an event, any trip that requires an overnight will require compromise. In our case, it was a no-brainer. I informed my companions that my cousins lived just minutes off I-10 in Pensacola, just about 500 miles into our trip. I hadn’t seen them for several years, and they were up for a visit. We had a wonderful time, playing catch up over pizza and we met our goal of getting out of Florida the first night.
Road Rule Number Two: Don’t trust travel/hotel websites. I’m talking to you, La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham in Daphne, AL. The hotel’s website promised, “Get energized for your day with a free Bright Side Breakfast® of eggs, waffles, and more.” What we got was coffee and cheap pre-packaged Danish. They didn’t even bother to move the juice machine from the barricaded breakfast area to the lobby. Lesson learned. Always call first and ask, “Is your pool actually open?” “Is your shuttle actually running?” “Is your breakfast actually edible?”
Road Rule Number Three: You cannot have too many snacks and beverages. People make fun of me because I have a lot of stuff in my car. That is, until they need a sweater, umbrella, Advil, a corkscrew or headband. I travel the same way. On this road trip, where every stop meant precious minutes lost, I came prepared with seltzer, Cold Brew coffee (not easy to pour in a moving truck), mini Oreos, granola bars, oranges and basically anything I could stuff in the truck’s visors. This proved most beneficial in Texas, where there were no buildings or humans for at least 300 miles.
Road Rule Number Four: Make it fun. I confess. I am a radio button presser. My reflexes are never faster than when a Supertramp song comes on the car radio. It’s fine driving solo but annoying on a road trip. As entertainment coordinator, I had hoped to connect to Bluetooth, but none of our phones were able to pair up. Since the truck didn’t have satellite radio, we were limited to our old friends, AM and FM. I was saved by the website, radio-locator.com, which lists every station in the area.
Entertainment is more than finding a classic rock channel in Mobile, AL. Before you hit the road, take a look at those board games hiding in your closet. Grab the cards from Trivial Pursuit, Would You Rather or other party games. Time will fly and you will get to know your road trip crew very well after a round of Never Have I Ever.
On the second night of our trip, we drove 700 miles, hit rain, had a lunch of cheap turkey sandwiches at a Louisiana Food for Less and dinner at Carl’s Jr. We were tired, and had just recovered from a “too much truck at not enough gas station” incident, when we arrived at our Best Western Plus in San Antonio at about 9:30 pm.
Road Rule Number Five: Treat Yourself. OK, I stole that from Parks and Recreation. We could have called it a night, but again, since I wasn’t driving, I had time to do a bit of research. I convinced my crew that we could easily get an Uber to a cool restaurant on the Riverwalk that was open until midnight on a MONDAY. After food and drinks, we enjoyed a lovely and much-needed stroll around San Antonio’s Riverwalk and even saw the Alamo before returning to the hotel around midnight. We woke up the next morning to a real breakfast of waffles, eggs and sausage (take that La Quinta) and the last leg of our trip - and we didn’t run out of snacks.