It’s late July and Heather and I are preparing to embark on our two week ‘road trip’ up the west coast of the United States. After spending lots of time exploring the east coast and having a break in Florida, it’s time for us to see what LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago have to offer.
I should say that it’s not exactly a road trip in the traditional sense. We’ll be driving all the way from L.A to San Francisco (via Yosemite and Monterey), but it’s flights from San Fran to Portland and from Seattle to Chicago.
But as we arrive bleary-eyed the Fox Rent-a-Car place in Los Angeles, it gets me thinking that a road trip might just be one of my favourite parts of travel and that so much of it hangs on the company you keep. And with Carrentals.co.uk kind enough to pick up the tab for our week of travel in California, all we had to worry about paying for were the snacks and the accommodation along the way!
With limited time to take in one of America’s largest and most tourist heavy states, we had done our best to organize an itinerary that would let us see and do as much as possible. To that end we came up with the following itinerary.
- Los Angeles – Two days
- Yosemite – Two days
- Monterey – One day
- San Francisco – One and a half days
I’d have loved to find more time to spend in all of the above places – not to mention finding time for other places such as San Diego, but I think we did a pretty good job of covering a lot of ground in a very limited amount of time. I’ll write entries about the goings on in each place farther down the road, but for now… the top five!
5 Traits in Awesome Road Trip Partners
#5 – In the mood to snack
Road trips and unhealthy snacks go hand in hand. It’s an unwritten rule that all bets (and diets) are off when you get behind the wheel and get out on the road.
A good road trip partner isn’t about counting calories and they sure as hell won’t be trying to force their celery sticks with home-made salsa on you as you drive past another rest stop laden with In & Out Burgers, delicious gas station snacks, and orgasm inducing Sonic chili dogs.
I’m not saying that your road trip needs to be a heart-stopping orgy of food akin to the famous glutton scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, but you’re on an adventure! Live a little!
If I want to stop at that gas station for some Twizzlers and a few Jolly Ranchers, don’t roll your eyes. Just give me a wicked grin, spin the wheel, and dash off in search of your own snacks of choice.
#4 – Similar musical tastes
A good road trip play-list can make or break a trip. Regardless of how good the conversation is or how entertaining the road trip games are, there’s bound to be stretches of near silence that would be best filled by a little music.
I remember on a road trip from Coeur d’Alene to Portland to Boise and back to Portland, my ex and I spent a whole night putting together six mix CDs to tide us over for the trip. These were, sadly, in the days before it was easy to just plug your iPod into the car’s CD player and go.
Whether you theme each CD around a different style of music or emotion, or you’ve just got a kick-ass playlist full of fist pumping awesomeness you can sing along too, the biggest downer is having your road trip companion rubbish your song taste every second track.
If I want to rock out to Backstreet Boys’ I Want it That Way, don’t judge me!
#3 – Knows good road-trip games
A good selection of road trip games is a pretty good way to pass the time. You could go simple with a little ‘I Spy’ or wrack your brains trying to beat your road trip buddy in a game of ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon‘ – but finding a good selection of road trip games is a sure fire way to make things a bit more enjoyable.
Others I’m a fan of include the ‘ABC game’ (find a word on the side of the road starting with each letter in order), ’20 Questions’… actually, the list of road trip games goes on and on.
What are your favourites?
#2 – Good conversationalist
This one is a no-brainer, really. You can’t go on a lengthy road trip with nothing but stony silence or the fifth replay of Fishin’ in the Dark for company.
The best road trips I’ve ever had have involved lengthy chats about everything from travel to philosophy to relationships to sex to things that amuse us. I’ve been lucky enough to have mostly done road trips with either old friends or girls I was dating, so this hasn’t often been a problem for me.
And, let’s face it, I’m a personable mother-fucker. I could have a conversation with a handful of wet oatmeal.
#1 – Easygoing
Even without items #2-#5, you need this one for the road trip to be fun. In many ways, easy-going plays right into all of the above, but it’s so much more than that.
A truly great road trip isn’t about the destination – it’s about the journey. That means stopping off at random to check out quirky roadside attractions, veering wildly off course to visit a theme park you had no idea existed; or just being willing to put off (or extend) certain parts of the trip.
While we did stick pretty closely to our planned itinerary along the way, our time in California was definitely made better by Heather being such an easygoing road trip companion. It was evident in the lengthier spells spent at scenic Bixby Bridge, the eagerness to let me pay for a fancy dinner overlooking the storm churned Pacific ocean, and the ever important stops at gas stations and fast food joints for a wee bit of gluttony indulgence.
What do you think are the most important traits in a good road trip companion? Have I hit the nail on the head or are there some glaring omissions?
What about road trip games? What are your favourites?
And what are your personal picks for a road trip play-list or road trip snacks?
Thanks again to Carrentals.co.uk for making our week of driving around California so much easier and more convenient. It was easy as hell to arrange the car rental, and Fox Rent-a-Car did their best to ensure we had a fun time – even if it did mean changing cars after two days to find something we were more comfortable in.