Greetings from Pure Michigan! This past weekend, my travels brought me up the road from Columbus into the great blue north, where I spent my weekend reconnecting with old friends from California and making new ones that I’ll remember for a while yet – all surrounded (quite literally) by that pure American sport: NASCAR. And while you all know how much I love my airline miles and points, flying from Columbus to Ann Arbor just to drive to the Irish Hills of Michigan just didn’t seem like a great play…even for me! So instead of flying, I decided to skip the trip delay and baggage loss and complete this weekend past with yet another tradition born and perfected in the United States: the road trip.
It is my personal opinion that America, more than any other country in the world, has a deeper affection for the road trip than anywhere else in the world. The road trip has been memorialized as a rite of passage for students and young adults across the United States in movies, films, and song. And many of us can tie some of our earliest memories to breaking out on the road. How many summers did we spend wailing “Are we there yet?” in the backseat of a car? And as parents, how many summers have we been subjected to the wailing coming from the backseat?
As an avid traveler, I’ve been on plenty of road trips in my life – especially now that I’ve moved to the Midwest. In the last year alone, I’ve traversed much of Ohio, three times to my beloved Niagara Falls, and now to Michigan. Before that, there was the great trip to travel across the United States to move from California to Ohio – where in four days, I crossed eight states, and saw some of the places and spaces that make America great.
It’s very hard to disassociate the road from traveling in the United States – and that’s not a bad thing. But with every road trip, there’s a level of preparation and respect that comes with traveling. While most of the fun is in the stops between your origin and destination, you can’t enjoy it if you don’t get there safely. So before you make that graduation trip with fellow student travelers or just get away for a long weekend, remember proper planning steps to make it a memorable weekend:
1) Always plan your route.
Even though you know where you’re going and may have traveled it many times before, planning never hurts. Just like a shortcut you once took can turn into a two-hour trip delay, not checking your preferred route can result in traffic situations that are less than ideal – such as construction, closures or other traffic issues.
2) Keep charged up.
In the event of an emergency, your phone can be your best resource for help and assistance. I always keep a charger in the power outlet of my car, in order to make sure my phone is always ready if I need it. But please don’t text and drive – it can wait.
Charging up is not just about keeping electronic devices ready – it’s also about the personal charge as well. Caffeine is not an excuse to drive eight hours non-stop in one direction. Plan to have a stop every two-to-three hours to stretch, re-hydrate, and refocus on the road ahead.
3) Plan enough time to get to your destination.
While it’s a fun idea to think that you can make it across country driving two days non-stop Smokey and the Bandit style, what happens in film and what happens in real life are two completely different things – even for student travelers! When planning for a road trip, plan how long it would take across the route at the speed limit, and plan your stops accordingly. By working out your minimum travel route early, you can prevent yourself from unnecessary stress and fatigue on the road, and even unnecessary costs along the way!
My sincere thanks go out Paoul, Princess, the Hammer, and the entire CTX crew for allowing me to hang out with them in the infield of Michigan International Speedway this weekend. It was certainly an experience that I will not forget anytime soon. Next week, it’s time to fly to Charlotte to do it all over again!
Do you have a particularly memorable road trip, as a student or otherwise, that you look back on fondly? What made it so special? Let me know in the comments below!