When I was a young girl, my family was famous for their cross country road trips. I guess during the 80’s and 90’s, road trips were still an economical way of traveling, especially if you were going to see family and bring back lots of things. Now that gas prices have gone up and Americans have almost no patience for traveling, road trips have become a nostalgic thing of the past. I myself, being a true fly girl, have mixed feeling about road trips.
My dad’s job had us moving all over the country. From California to North Dakota to Georgia to Texas and finally to Montana. The majority of our family lives in Texas and Idaho so our road trips took us there most of the time and a few to Florida for vacation. We would load up the suburban, with CJ in the back, me and Pepper (our family dog) in the middle and of course Mom and Dad in the front. I was always excited before leaving. Going to see family or Mickey Mouse being the ultimate goal. We would get up extra early and eat breakfast on the road. The smell of coffee and wrapped breakfast tacos filling the air. When I was really little, my parents would pull out this brown briefcase cassette holder and start picking out cassettes to listen to. I always think of my parents when I hear the Eagles, ZZ Top, Van Halen, George Strait and the Scorpions because those artists were always on the list. Eventually technology caught up and cds took over that bulky briefcase full of cassettes and suddenly rewinding and fast forwarding was not necessary. I know I’m painting such a nostalgic pretty picture. For the most part, the memories were. But of course with road trips there is always drama. Sick kids, moody parents getting lost, growling dog. Just the overall impatience of being on the road and wanting to get to point B. Now that we are older and have moved on, my parents don’t really road trip. They, like every other American, fly to their next destination. Also, with my brother and I living our own lives, they have finally begun their own vacation trips that don’t consist of Mickey Mouse and cheesy Florida beaches. Things have definitely changed.
Now that I am flying for a living, I hardly make a road trip myself. I barely drive my car! But just in the past two years, I have made two very notable road trips. The first was tough. I was leaving a life that I was looking forward to building and returning home after it failed. My best friend Liz helped me pack up my little Ford Focus with all that was left of my belongings along with a very fat and unhappy cat and we left San Antonio for Shelby, Montana. We spent almost all day driving through Texas listening to cheesy 80’s music, Fleetwood Mac, and Indie Rock. We subsisted totally off of sandwiches, Pringles chips, and Capri Suns. The trip went off without a hitch and made it in 2 days. We of course went through an impatient moment somewhere in Billings, MT and I was brought back to memories of my parents yelling, but this is the way to go! No it isn’t! Check the map again! We made it nonetheless and my new life in Montana began that evening with a beer in my hand later that evening and thoughts left over from the road trip about how I was supposed to start over yet again.
My next road trip just occurred about 3 weeks ago. Now that I’m back in the airlines as a junior flight attendant, I have to go to where the better schedules are. Unfortunately that meant leaving Montana behind and really thinking about where I would be better off. I decided that economically, I would be better off back in San Antonio. I had a large group of friends and family there and the support system is very ideal. I was excited to return in a different way. No longer bound by another person’s expectations, I was finally going to live the life I deserved in Texas the second time around. With that, the newest and most special friend to enter my life, Sean, flew up to Montana to help me pack my little Ford Focus up and make the trek back to Texas. Things didn’t go as planned on this trip and two days turned to three due to flooding and having to travel 6 hours out of our way. But we made the best of it and got to know each other in a way most new couples don’t get the opportunity considering we were stuck in a vehicle for most of the day with nowhere to run to. The only tense moment was trying to figure out how to get out of Montana and on our way south. We listened to music that reminded me of my parents as we had ZZ Top radio on Pandora playing for most of the journey. We joked around entering Oklahoma and celebrated our entrance into the Lone Star State. It was the best road trip I’ve ever had since I was a little girl and it solidified an already promising relationship with Sean.
I think people should consider road trips over flying especially if you have the time and finances and of course, the patience. You share so much more with your travel partners than a little bag of peanuts and TSA patdowns. You don’t shut each other out with iPods and inflight entertainment. You share the radio and compromise your listening choices. You take pictures of the landscape and stop at cheesy road stops. Getting off the beaten path can be stressful and enlightening at the same time too. I think it is a must that once a year, a family gets into a car and takes a trip, whether it be cross country or cross state, I think the closeness you get and feel from each other helps build a family bond. Sure it’s stressful at times but isn’t air travel worse? I see families come onto planes and the husband and wife barely look at each other as each one takes a screaming grumpy child, shoves headphones into their ears and turn on the DVD. So if you can, try and plan out an All American trip down US Hwy 66 or drive to Grandma’s house. Get to know your trip partners and just sit back and look out at the beautiful landscape as you listen to your or your partner’s favorite tunes blaring out of the speakers.