Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lessons Learned on Long Car Trips

Maybe it was a four-state junket to attend college, or packing up the kids on a 15-hour journey to grandma's house, or just a bunch of friends in search of spring break beaches, but we all have our memories of long car trips. The longest I've travelled in one stretch was a 20-hour marathon from Flint, Michigan, to Denver, stopping only for gas and rest stops.

Sometimes the length of the trip has nothing to do with the time it takes to get there. I once sat in a traffic jam for more than 14 hours behind two large trucks that had collided on a snow-covered bridge. We had to wait until crews could clear the wreckage before we could move. I ended up driving 150 miles in just under 18 hours -- not a good rate of speed.

Miles and time are only two determinants that make for a long car trip. Others factors include number of kids in the car, inconvenient bathroom requests, travelers prone to car sickness, backed-up traffic, and unexpected breakdowns -- all these can lead to road trips we'd like to forget.

But no matter what the reason for a long trip, I have learned a few lessons along the way:

1. Go with the flow. Whether it's traffic or life, if I keep up with those around me and don't stress about getting ahead, the road is made easier.

2. Accept the inevitable. There will always be two trucks passing each other on a long, uphill grade that slows down traffic, and there will always be those obstacles in life we can't control. It's just better to lay off the horn, slow down, and enjoy the ride.

3. If you gotta go, you better stop. No matter how close the next rest stop is, it's better to stop sooner than later. This is especially true when travelling with children and pets. On the road of life I've learned it's better to take a break than press onward unnecessarily. Your car's brakes are there for a reason.

4. Slow down in hazardous conditions. Ice, sleet, snow, rain, fog and smoke all make driving hazardous. It's better to slow down than rush forward into an accident. In life it is inevitable a little rain will fall, so consider slowing down and not rushing into bad decisions.

5. Turn down the volume. There are times on a trip I want to drive in silence. This quiet time gives me pause to think and pray. Sometimes in life I need to unplug and tune out too, so I can settle my mind and think or pray.

Long road trips are like life in general. They're full of things to see, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and reminders that, sooner or later, we're all going to run out of gas.

No comments :