Freedom and Bad Food on the Open Road (Vámonos Vol. 10)

These are tough times.  Everyone is being asked to make more from less and stretch dollars further.  Under these circumstances travel plans often get pruned, delayed or just flat out canceled.  One of the oldest ways to save money when traveling is to opt out of train fair and make it a road trip.  Looking for local wonders through a windshield can be an exciting way to see the world, and while gas prices continue to abuse wallets, there are no charges for additional bags, and TSA will not take your deodorant.

More importantly, a car offers a certain amount of personal freedom that a plane can’t compete with.  A roadtripper leaves at her or his own convenience; he/she controls the climate and the music.  The car makes stops and layovers where the driver wants, not where the airline wants to.  And while there is always the chance of a mechanical failure or delay, that delay is something that the roadtripper has some control over(this can be a good or bad thing).

It is considerably slower to travel by car then by air, but this doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.  Some of the best travel pictures I have ever scene were taken on the side of a small highway or out the passenger window.  I remember once as a young boy, waking up in the back seat of my grandparents Oldsmobile somewhere in South Dakota stopped in the middle of a heard of buffalo.  I can’t remember where we were going that day, but I remember the car trip to this day.

Some consider the Midwest boring country to drive through, sometimes they’re right.  A lot of Illinois “Mile after magnificent miles” are cornfields each identical to the one before.  I would have thought there was nothing of interest in the drive between Chicago and St. Louis.  It is a drive I have done a number of my times and I have always been in a hurry to get home.  But, on a recent trip at my girlfriend’s insistence we stopped in Springfield to see some of the historic site tied to Lincoln’s early political career and eat some of the worst tacos I have had in my entire life.   On balance it was a great little adventure.  And while our dining was imperfect, it was a side trip and an adventure we couldn’t have had traveling any other way.  I loved seeing Springfield, next time I am getting a sandwich.


Trip Tips


Don’t Push Yourself too Hard 

It is easy to become excited about making good time, but remember you’re on vacation this is not the amazing race.  Whoever is driving should be responsible and remember that they’re not being considerate if they keep driving even after they become groggy.  If you need to make distances quickly make sure you can share driving responsibilities.

Bring a Second Driver

See Above.

Be a Good Passenger

When you’re not driving make sure to be a good passenger.  Someone should be talking to and engaging the driver.  It can be difficult to drive for long stretches and its more fun and easier to enjoy the trip if you have someone with you to pass the time with.

Use the trip as an excuse to do general maintenance of your car

The driving you do on your road trip is likely above and beyond what you do on a normal day-to-day basis, the same goes for your car.  Make sure you don’t get caught on the road in something that can’t or shouldn’t handle trip.  Your wheels are your freedom out there and they will treat you as well as you treat them.


This article is available en Español

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