We recently returned from a road trip to Utah. And to tell you the truth road trips are so different now then what they were before.
This was the first time that our teenage son got to drive. Some might think, “how scary!” All I have to say is that Nebraska is mighty long and it gives him lots of hours of driving. We chose to let him drive in the less busy parts of the highway when we normally would be getting tired.
Another big difference than the days of yore is the speed limit. As you go West, the speed keeps getting higher and higher. Making the trip shorter. (Remember Nebraska is mighty long). What used to be 55mph now is 75 mph. I like that they have signs that change the speed limit depending on the road conditions. So if it’s freezing rain it’s slower, if it’s sunny it’s faster. How smart.
Now motels are mostly chain hotels. It’s difficult to find the mom and pop motels that used to line the highways. One good thing is that you know what you are getting. The bad thing is that you get generic hotels all along the way. But the advantage is that now you can make your reservation online with your smart phones and you don’t have to waste your time stopping in every town to see if they have room. One trip we had to drive from Washington DC all the way home because there were no motels anywhere. It was bad. Now we just decide how far we want to drive, look up the hotels in that town and make the reservation online. We can even state when we are planning on arriving so they don’t give our room away.
A friend of mine said that she still stops in the rest areas and gets the coupons for motels. I haven’t done that in a long time. But you can still get some pretty good deals that way.
The final way that road trips have changed for our family is the entertainment. We’ve had our van with a DVD player for a long time now. I don’t think my kids would be able to survive a cross country trip without a Harry Potter marathon. We can stop along the way and get a new movie from redbox and return it somewhere else. We can listen to satellite radio all the way. No more searching for radio stations in the middle of Nebraska (sorry Nebraska) and all you could find was country stations.
Some things haven’t changed for us. My kids will not go on a road trip without doing a license plate bingo. They still write down all the states that they see. They compete to find all the states and get really excited when they find a Hawaii license plate or Delaware. We still try to pack our meals and stop to have a picnic in the rest areas. Some of the rest areas are fantastic. Some places have been must stops for a long time: Little America in Wyoming and Wall Drug in South Dakota. You really look forward to that $.50 ice cream or that free glass of water.
Don’t stop taking road trips because air travel is faster. Sometimes the journey becomes an integral part of the trip. Plus your kids need to know what it was like for you when you were growing up.