It’s the unexpected discovery of something odd or fun or sweet or quirky when we travel that makes us want to explore again and again! Here’s some of what we encountered on a recent visit to one of my favorite Midwest road-trip destinations: Galena, Illinois.
Road tripping, either done over the weekend or as a means of travel over the course of several days or even a week or two, brings to mind the old maxim about enjoying the journey and not just the destination. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, when it comes to travel (especially via our nation’s roadways): You never really know what you’re going to get (or where you’re going to end up). Those less brave and optimistic about life’s twists and turns might read this with a negative bent. I, on the other hand, prefer to consider all the wonder, mystery and beauty in this world including the charm, goodness and generosity of those we might encounter along the way.
To my way of thinking there are two necessary components for enjoying a fun and rewarding road trip excursion (aside from a reliable mode of transportation, a full tank of gas and adequate funds to get you to where you want to go):
- Flexibility: Being joyfully willing to accommodate a change of plans, target destinations and perhaps even travel companions. Individual thresholds to comply may vary (refer to your own personal owner’s manual).
- Sense of adventure: Welcoming new experiences with grace, enthusiasm and a hefty sense of humor. Employing a gleeful approach to stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a must for cultivating unforgettable memories.
Optional elements for a successful road trip include the following (although some, like myself, would argue these are requirements in their own right):
- Camera, charger and/or batteries to capture the fun and whimsy along the way.
- Funky, colorful clothing, solid yet stylish footwear, sunglasses and your favorite jewelry (you want to look good in those photos, don’t you?)
- Portable laptop (don’t forget the power cord!) to upload said photos and to research landmarks, historical information, find restaurants, hotels, campgrounds and other points of interest.
- Books, magazines, Kindles to peruse during your downtime or while on the road (preferably while your partner/significant other is doing the driving. ‘Nuff said.)
- Great travel music which helps immensely over those long stretches when caffeine and the ability to safely rest are just beyond reach. Highly recommended: George Thorogood, Joe Bonamassa, Dire Straits, Queen and Pink Floyd. Not your cup of tea? Pick your own poison.
- GPS: Our own personal Ginger (when we remember to hook her up) is an invaluable tool for navigating unknown locales, finding the nearest Starbucks or a particular restaurant as well as providing useful stats such as travel time, average speed, maximum speed and rest time. Use with caution however and in tandem with a pre-printed travel route. Ginger has been known to divert us to impractical and/or inefficient paths that she, in her wisdom, deems the preferred method for getting us from Point A to Point B. These alternate routes have at times taken us very much off the beaten track.
So. There you have it. Everything you need to enjoy your time on the open road. Perhaps most important, however, is the desire to just have fun and to make the very most of your road trip adventure. Our world offers a multitude of travel and exploratory opportunities. Now get yourself behind the wheel and go enjoy what’s out there!