Saw an interesting question on the travel Twitter chat #RoadTripChat. It was “what makes road trips memorable?”
I replied that several things make road trips memorable and then thought “hey that would make for a great blog post.” There were many factors to consider but here I have the five biggest things that make road trips memorable.
1.) The People You Meet On A Road Trip
Without question, this is the biggest element that stands out about road trips. It could be a warm welcome at a hotel or B&B, someone you encounter in a souvenir store be it an employee or a customer or, as quite often that happens on PubClub.com road trips, a colorful character in a bar.
One example of the latter is someone I met in at Cayucos Tavern, a no-stoplight down on the Central California coast just down from Hearst Castle. I called her “Lively Lauren” and she was an off-duty employee there who kept us laughing as she tried to teach me how to prounce the town’s name of Cayucos. She was so funny we videotaped her and put her in a YouTube video, which you can watch below.
I also will never forget having some great Mexican food and margaritas in Moss Landing, CA, a little stop off Highway 1 north of Monterey, the Haute Enchilada. There, I met the owner, Kim. To borrow words my mom uses to describe a fun and lively person, she’s a hoot! By the way, the fact I was in Moss Landing to begin with showsmy road trip adventuresome nature.
That’s the good side of meeting people on a road trip. On the bad side we have all encountered rude, mean and bad people. Quite often, they can almost ruin a road trip. If you let it linger. Being someone who prefers to focus on the positive waves of life rather than the negative ones, I don’t linger on those people. But I definitely remember them.
2.) The Places You Go On A Road Trip
I also look at the places within a destination, be it a tourist site, a local landmark like the massive CN Tower in Toronto or this place in the Swiss Alps that literally took my breath away. And, for PubClub.com there are also countless memorable bars; Paradise Beach on Mykonos, Greece is certainly one of them.
3.) The Moments You Experience
The above help to blend in and create this third experience. When I lived in LA, I took a local road trip with a friend and spent a day at a waterfall. Yes, there are waterfalls in Los Angeles (we went to Eaton Falls near the Rose Bowl). What an experience I did not expect to have in the so-called concrete city!
I have also watched countless sunsets along the California coast, the Florida Gulf Coast, in Santorini and even over a lake in my native East Tennessee. Sunsets are always memorable moments.
Sometimes you can walk right into moments and other times you must go and find them. Pro’s Tip: If you’re new to a destination, ask locals where there are good “moments” places.
4.) Pleasant And No- So-Pleasant Moments And How You Handle Both
As mentioned above there are pleasant and not-so-pleasant moments on road trips. I came within an eyelash of running out of gas in the dark along a lonely highway in California with my what-are-you-doing girlfriend at the time with me. I was on fumes when I spotted lights on at a station in the distance. When I got there the proprietor was about to close but I begged him to stay open for two more minutes. He did, thankfully. I was breathing heavy and sweating while filling up and got back in the car as if I had planned it all along. That’s a not-so-pleasant moment I’ll never forget!
Fortunately the pleasant moments far outweigh the other ones. Heck on that same trip, the girlfriend and I had a wonderful time taking the ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito and walking around that cute village. She preferred the art shops and me the No Name dive bar, so that relationship did not last but we had a very pleasant time that afternoon in Sausalito.
5,) The Unexpected
The unexpected is one of the greatest things about road trips. If you embrace it. If you’re a we-need-to-stick-to-our-plan kind of person then the unexpected will startle and upset you.
Forget that, I say. Take that road off the beaten path to see what’s down there. Stop at an attraction or some other thing you come across that’s not on your itinerary. Don’t shy away from spending a night in a city or town that’s not your planned destination.
On one road trip, instead of taking the interstate across southern Florida on my way to Fort Meyers, I took Highway 41 through the Florida Everglades. Along the way I passed those big Everglades fan tour boats, stopped and saw alligators in the wild and came across the smallest post office in the U.S.A.
Experiencing the unexpected is one of the great experiences of travel.