I’ve never roadtripped before. No, really.
I get pegged for a real tramp sometimes, but I’m convinced it’s due to the same sort of relative judgments that has caused my Louisiana-born but mild-mannered brother to become the class clown in his otherwise tranquil Michigan office.
So I’m learning how to roadtrip on the fly, or at least learning how I like to do it. A handful of useful suggestions:
1. Bring an atlas
Smart phones are nice, I imagine, but sometimes Google’s just wrong. Atlases, peace be upon whoever their authors may be, are not. An atlas does not run out of battery, get stolen, go on the fritz or cost $100 a month.
I’m still figuring this out, but got a couple of pointers recently. First, in Ecuadorian Spanish foods are called either de sal (savory) or de dulce (sweet). When you’re hungry you generally want one or the other. Second, my high school buddy Ryan informed me that chewing on something keeps you awake. Connecting the dots, I went to Sam’s and picked up a giant box of sunflower seeds (de sal), chewing gum (de dulce) and two dozen Cliff Bars or protein It didn’t hurt that the first two make me think of Little League baseball. The case of green tea has proven more diuretic than useful, but I haven’t had to eat fast food yet.
3. Visit people, not places
They’re what matter anyway, right? Carry small gifts and big stories for the folks kind enough to open their homes.
4. Use technology when you feel like it
I’ve used facebook to remind myself who’s where, and been happily surprised along the way. There’s also CouchSurfing, eRideShare.com, Google maps and podcasts – oh man, podcasts. I say “when you feel like it” only because I get irritated by (other) techno-evangelists.
5. Get lost
Lock yourself out of your friend’s apartment, run your car battery down, get stuck for 45 minutes in the black hole that is Granville, Michigan. Think: “This might make a pretty good story once it’s over.”