Are You Ready for That Car Trip?

By Susanne Severeid

And now for something completely different…

For those of us planning road trips to celebrate the much-desired end of COVID-19 isolation, I’d like to offer a few tips on what NOT to do during motoring jaunts (this based on my experience):

  1.  Do not travel with cats (Yes, I have done this with not one, but two…don’t ask…one of which developed a urinary tract infection necessitating an emergency visit to a vet in Winnemucca, Nevada!)
  2. Do not travel for hours during summer through the Sonora Desert when it is 112 degrees. Also try to avoid sudden thunderstorms that can cause flash floods with hail that can ding your car and completely freak you out.
  3. Do not travel more than 550 miles in one day and expect to still be speaking with your significant other when you finally do stop for food at a crappy diner somewhere along the highway after dark.
  4. Do not pull into parking spaces with low overhanging oak tree branches. The branch will shear off the fork of your favorite mountain bike…and only you will care.
  5. Do not have in-depth discussions about your relationship when you both are exhausted, dehydrated, thirsty, hungry, or grumpy (choose any two).
  6. Do not feel like you have to take everything you own and/or pack every last pair of shoes that you might possibly wear just because it can all be crammed into the back of your hatchback and the overhead cargo box.
  7. Do not book a rural motel online and expect it to look anything like its website.  Furthermore, do not expect such motels with words like “Lodge,” “Suites,” or “Resort” in their names to even remotely resemble same.
  8. Do not stay in any motel if the lobby snack machine is empty; the neon motel sign has malfunctioning letters; the plastic lawn furniture on the AstroTurf out front is broken; the shower looks as if it has never been cleaned; and the windows have no screens. Oh, and if a SWAT team has blocked off surrounding streets due to a nearby hostage stand-off, just drive on. You get the idea.
  9. Do not pack snacks and water bottles so far back among the suitcases and duffels that they cannot be easily reached from the front seat. This will result in the driver of the vehicle becoming very irritating and asking annoying questions like, “What do you mean you can’t get to them?” or “Was it smart to pack them underneath all that stuff?”
  10. Do not plan to navigate a major metropolis during rush hour or late at night after a full day’s driving. You will lose whatever is left of your mind.
  11. Do not rely entirely on your GPS and remember to also use your own map-reading skills if you still have them. Also, know how to disengage the GPS audio at times or you will be threatening all sorts of bodily harm to Siri or Alexis to Shut Up.
  12. If travelling with kids, do not expect them to be as enthused about the world’s biggest mudball or old Berma Shave billboards along Route 66 as you are. (There is a probably a bit of Chevy Chase and National Lampoon’s Vacation in all of us whether we like to admit it or not.)

And a few Do’s:

  1.  Do plan your route and include regular water, food, and bathroom breaks. Hopefully, post-COVID, most rest areas will be re-opened, and you will actually be able to relieve yourself in the traditional manner we are all used to, rather than bumping into the plethora of “closed to the public” signs of late.
  2. Do pack fun road trip music. Some of my personal favs are: Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstandt, The Eagles (especially Hotel California), Queen, Doobie Brothers, and Fleetwood Mac. I prefer up tempo songs that I can sing along to, preferably loudly and off-key.
  3. Do make sure your car has been properly serviced before you leave and that you have emergency equipment if needed. Check with AAA if you are a member and get routes and apps and/or maps if needed. I appreciate their food/hotel recommendations. My guilty secret is that I love marking up old-fashioned paper maps with a yellow highlighter, which nowadays probably lands me just this side of wearing a pocket protector.
  4. Above all, stay safe. Avoid driving in inclement conditions if possible and at night in unfamiliar areas. Never, of course, drive while intoxicated or too fatigued.

Having said all that, my heartfelt advice is to get vaccinated and to go out there and have fun again!

God knows we all need it.

Copyright 2021 Susanne Severeid is an award-winning author, public speaker and performer with a background in international journalism.