The Anatomy of a Good Road Trip

5 Jan

As I prepare for my annual pilgrimage to Athens, GA, where a car full of people will come with me, I am forced to think about what it takes to create an exciting road trip, I am forced to admit that I am not sure that it can be created through any formula. In fact, I think few people would be brazen enough to try and come up with a formula. But I am like few men, so I think I’ll give it a crack.

First of all, I think trying to make a road trip formulaic is the first element of a bad road trip. No two road trips are the same, just as no two people are the same. When you are looking at a group of people who are going to hit the road together, you’ve got to understand the personalities in the group and what will be the range of things that can be accomplished.

Make no mistake about it, there is nothing inherently fun about sitting in a car seat belted in and watching the trees on the sides go by. Yet I have had many a fun road trip. Some of them have involved doing fun stuff on them internet, while others have involved watching DVD’s, while others have involved story-telling contests, while others included excessive survey taking, and still others have involved lively debates.

I think the first key is for everyone to come in expecting the fun to occur. If someone sits down moody and decides they won’t have a good time, they can ruin it for everyone. We’ve all take a road trip with a curmudgeon and we hope to never do it again. Sometimes being a killjoy is a sliding scale. I’ve seen people who are enthusiastic and fun on one road trip, become spoilsports when the activity does not fit their idea of what should be the prescribed road trip fun. So, stay open-minded!

The second key is to have an instigator. This is a nebulous job description, but a group of people wanting to have fun often need that person who will make sure it happens. You’ve got to have one person willing to start the debate, choose the movie, tell the first story, ask the survey questions, or just give us some fun things to do corporately on the internet. This person also needs to be creative and/or flexible enough to see when a new course of action needs to be addressed.

The third key is to be flexible. Flexibility is key when you never know exactly how it’s going to end up. When a trip begins there are several things that may be attempted, but it may take a few options to find the groove that works for the given group at that given point in time. If someone gets muddled in a particular activity, it can end up stalling the entirety of the fun. In short be ready to sacrifice some of your desires so that the group as a whole can have a good time.

In my many years of driving and riding with groups of people, I have found these things to work. And as I look forward to the road trip coming this weekend, which while I drive to Athens every year in early January, I have yet to have two identical trips, even when the groups were almost all the same. But Road Trips can be awesome!

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One Response to “The Anatomy of a Good Road Trip”

  1. Jenni March 15, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    This post was maybe the most fun of all of your posts that I have read! I LOVE road trips, and I loved reading about what makes them good (or not good). I think it is because I am an instigator, so this post made me feel good. 🙂

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