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I tried to convince everyone - both my editor and the owner of this fine machine - to let me take this back on my return road trip to Ohio. Sadly, neither party would relent. Though we all had to admit, it would have made for an awesome car to drive back! What are some of your best memories from taking a road trip?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!

The mighty Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Arguably the greatest airplane I've ever had the pleasure of flying - even more so than the 777, or the 747 I flew to Germany. Makes suffering a trip delay or cancellation worth it to fly on one of these.If you’ve been forced to spend any amount of time with me (either online or analog) in the month of May, you’re probably tired of every fourth word coming out of my mouth being either “Dreamliner” or “787.” I apologize now – I really couldn’t help to share how excited I was to fly one of these brand new airplanes across the United States. Needless to say, the hype that I put into this trip wasn’t a disappointment.

You might remember the 787 Dreamliner for the battery problems earlier this year, causing a mess of trip delays and trip cancellations. This caused the entire group of these brand new birds to be grounded indefinitely as Boeing scrambled to fix the overheating battery issue. By April, the problem seemed to be fixed and test flights were under way. The week before Memorial Day Weekend, the 787’s were once again being introduced into fleets around the world for short-haul passenger flights. That is where my journey begins.

Going back to California for the weekend to spend time with my family, I scoured high and low for a good price. Without a good price to be found, I went to my backup plan: find the route with the most miles involved. That all changed after I found a route on Google Flights that went through Houston, and included the magic words for me: “Boeing 787.” Miles went out the window – this was my chance to ride on a brand new airplane.

So after getting to the airport on time, using the priority lane to get through security (thanks to my silver status) and riding two hours on the bulkhead seat of a regional jet (in this case, it was worth it), I finally got to meet my new favorite plane of all time in Houston. My first impression was that it looked a lot smaller than it should be when compared to the Boeing 747, Boeing 777 and Airbus A380. But just like the TARDIS, it’s much bigger on the inside.

Boarding the airplane itself was a breeze! Thanks to the wide body construction, it now offers two aisles which makes for a relatively quick boarding process. As I was boarding, the first thing I noticed was the change in lighting. Instead of the rather obnoxiously bright standard lights, the cabin was lit in a very cool, soothing blue light. One would think that it would make it harder to see in the cabin, but instead it made for a much more relaxing experience. As advertised, the windows have no shades – instead, an electronic control that tints the window. I preferred this over the standard shade, as I have better control over the lighting and don’t have to play with the shade to get the right amount of light in.

Each seat comes with their own onboard entertainment system – pre-loaded with a selection of games, TV shows  and movies. Each also came with their own USB port, which should allow you to plug your own device in to interact with the screen (although I didn’t try it out myself).

But perhaps the two most striking features of this airplane came in the way it rode and the way I felt flying somewhere over New Mexico and Arizona. The Dreamliner’s features provide a much smoother ride – from the fins on the engines that reduce vibrations to technology that can predict and sense turbulence and route around it. The smooth ride, combined with the lower pressurization of the plane (the cabin is pressurized to 6,000 feet as opposed to the standard 8,000) made for a very comfortable ride. Even from my lowly seat in “economy” class, it felt like a luxury experience.

All in all, the Dreamliner seems to be the first airplane designed for not only efficiency, but foremost for the passenger comfort as well. I was thoroughly impressed with every feature from start to finish. Maybe next time, I’ll get to sit in the front of the plane…that is, if all my points add up correctly.

Have you rode on a Dreamliner yet? What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment with your thoughts about the newest plane to fly the skies!