Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Road Trip Planning: CLT > Louisville > Chicagoland > MINNEAPOLIS

Anyone who knows me well, knows I despise driving.  My extreme dislike of driving is one of the reasons I made the decision to live walking distance from work the last 3 years.  Not having to drive to get around is so liberating for me.  If I wasn't so bad at living far from my family, I'd love to live in a city where I wouldn't need to own a car, like New York.

All that said, I am actually looking forward to the 3-day road trip back to Minnesota.  I opted to fly down here and have my car shipped when I moved to Charlotte because with CFA studying I simply did NOT have time to spend 2-3 days driving.  But this time I have the time and it makes sense to drive back so I'll have access to my car right away and can load it up with enough clothes to last me the 2+ weeks I'll be without my belongings.

Luckily my mom offered to fly down to do the drive back with me which is a huge relief because driving 1,100+ miles alone would have sucked and I might have lost my mind in the process.  She flies in late Friday night and we will hit the road bright and early on Saturday morning. 

The last time I did a multi-day drive like this was when I came back from spending the summer in Steamboat Springs, CO in 2001.  Cross-country drives are not my things but I am bound and determined to make this as fun as 18+ hours in the car can be.  Here are some of the plans I've made to make the drive as fun as possible:

- Perspective.  First off, I am adjusting my perspective on the drive.  Instead of dreading 3 days of driving, I'm looking at it as a special opportunity to have my mom completely to myself.  When you grow up in a family with 5 kids, you do not get one parent to yourself much and certainly not for 3 days straight.  I'm going to savor this.

- Snacks.  We've got bottled water, trail mix, and popcorn and I am sure we will pick up a few things along the way.  It's been WARM down here so I had to pick things that would not melt or be messy in the car (i.e. no chocolate.  Womp womp).

- Tunes.  I ordered an FM transmitter for my car so that we could play music off of my iPhone and I've created a travel playlist with things that appeal to both of us, like The Beatles for my mom and The Civil Wars for me.  By the way, you should have seen the look the Target employee gave me when I asked where their FM transmitters were.  He couldn't believe my car didn't have a USB port.  That's one of the downsides of owning a car that was made in 2003 but oh well.  No car payment > owning a car with a USB port.  Luckily the FM transmitter I ordered off of works really well.

- Conversation prompts.  I am sure my mom and I will have a lot to talk about on this drive home between the last year in Charlotte and my move home and such.  But in case we reach a point where neither of us has something interesting to say and she's tired of my music and we don't want to ride in silence, I am bringing along my book "If:  Questions for the Game of Life."  It's chock full of questions that are really interesting and thought provoking like, "If you could eliminate one day from your past so that you had never had to live through it, which day would you erase?" or "If you could have chosen your own first name, what would it be?"  

- Audio book.   Did you know that you can 'rent' books from Cracker Barrel?  The way it works is that you buy the book there and then you can return it at any Cracker Barrel location and they will just deduct $3.49 for each week you have the book.  If this wasn't a point to point trip, I'd use the library but clearly borrowing an audio book from the Charlotte library is not going to work so this is a good, inexpensive option.

- Maps.  I've got my trusty garmin, aka Ausralian Lee, to talk us through the drive home but I've printed off google maps as a back-up and of course we can use GPS on my phone as well but I want to limit my use of aps on my phone as I don't have unlimited data anymore. 

So there you have it!  Hopefully all of this preparation means we'll have a fun, issue-free trip home.  We'll be stopping in Louisville, KY the first night, my brother's in the Chicago area on the second night, and then on the third day we'll pull into my aunt and uncle's where I'll be living for about 2 weeks.  The first day of the drive is going to be beautiful as we'll drive through the Asheville area and pretty parts of Kentucky.  The next two days will be far less scenic but we have the reward of seeing my brother and his family on the second day and the ultimate reward of COMING HOME TO A CITY I LOVE (yes, ALL CAPS) and seeing my aunt and uncle (aka my St. Paul parents aka my Julia Child aunt and uncle) on the third day.

Do you like taking road trips?  What preparations do you make before a long road trip?  Am I forgetting anything?  Besides the preparations listed above, I also had an extensive tune-up done on my car which including replacing the front brakes (have I mentioned how I am bleeding money lately?).  Oh and I am happy to report that my trunk opens and closes OK despite the damage during during that accide.  Phew, such a relief!


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

My car is from 2010 and does not have a USB plug ha ha so okay Target employee. :)

I am not a huge fan of driving either and never did long drives as a kid so I basically don't do them as an adult either BUT I'd love to do a one way one like you are doing. Plus you and your mom will have fun!

Caroline said...

If it makes you feel better my car is from 2011 and has a USB port but only works sporadically. Cool...

Definitely maps! There were so many times on my drive that I lost all cell and GPS service haha not sure what I would have done without the maps. Oh and a car charger since my battery drained faster than normal.

Sounds like you're set though! Have a great drive!

Becky said...

I've kind of resigned myself to long car trips - it's what I grew up with having so much family in Ohio!

These plans all sound great! If you're looking for another audio book (for free!) is a sponsor of the book riot podcast so you can look up some of their shows - they have a link where you get a free audio book and a 30-day trial for free!

Have a safe drive!!!

Emilie said...

My mom hates flying so I grew up road-tripping to Florida for our yearly family vacations, which was always easy because we took the same interstate for 95% of the trip. I think because of that I don't mind long car rides too much but I do prefer the quickness of flying. My boyfriend and I are actually going to be driving to TN this fall to visit friends because the flight options are horrible (too expensive and nothing direct/early in the morning). I love that you have so many ideas to keep you and your mom occupied during the three days of driving! Your conversation prompts sound really cool! I may look into that for my drive to TN.
Also, re: maps! When I was a kid my grandparents took us the Cape Cod for a weekend every summer and I vividly remember relying on good old Rand McNally to get us there. It's so funny how much has changed over the years.

Yay for your trunk opening and closing! That's got to be a huge relief!

Stephany said...

I hate, hate, hate driving, too! Both my mom and I do, so it's a constant point of contention when we're doing something together. Haha.

I need to look into the FM transmitter! My car is from 2005 & doesn't have a USB port, which I'm bummed about.

Having your mom all to yourself for three days will be so great!

I can't believe it's almost time for you to say so long to Charlotte! YAY!

missris said...

I despise driving, and I never do it so I'm actually pretty bad at it! And our car, which is 100% paid off, is a 2005 so we don't have a USB either. I should look into an FM transmitter!

Marlys said...

It has been so long since I have taken a road trip that lasted more than one day so I am looking forward to this with great anticipation! It will be wonderful to have you to myself for three days and to reconnect after your absence for the last year! I know we've seen you a few times, but they have been fleeting moments and days so this will be grand! I am looking forward to this trip and your RETURN TO MN!!!
Now, I better get packed!

Alli said...

I am obsessed with the "If" books. Did you know there are like 4 of them. i own all of them. No wonder we are friends.

Although I hate driving, I actually do like road trips though, as you know, my last one wasn't ideal...

Jeanie said...

I like road trips and do prepare, but I think you have my prep list beat! Sounds like it would be a wonderful time to reconnect with your mom and as you said, have her all to yourself. I think you'll have a great trip-- Have a safe one!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Had I known you were buying a FM transmitter, I would have encouraged you to buy bluetooth speakers. We bought some for our trip to Florida and they were great in the car as well as away from the car! Also, I don't have unlimited data, but I used Spotify during our road trip and loved it - I heavily used apps that week of vacation and only had a $10 fee for the extra data I used. It was definitely worth it!

As you know, Sweets and I love taking road trips (as does Gavin and even SoMi). We always pack a cooler with snacks and lunch items (I hate fast food and can't always be bothered to find a local spot, though I will say YELP is awesome at tracking down decent, not fast food restaurants on road trips). We usually freeze a gallon of water plus smaller ice packs to cool the cooler (and then we can drink the cold water as it melts!).

And, like you, we have our mechanic give our truck a once-over to make sure everything is in working order. You're making me so very excited for our trip to the Cape this summer!

Nora said...

I don't have a USB port either. My car manual says I have one, but I don't =) I have an FM transmitter, too.

I loved car trips more as a kid when my legs weren't as long, I could fall asleep anywhere and we were usually going to cool places like the beach! As an adult it's ok, but not my favorite. I definitely make sure to have snacks, books, good music, and enough room to scoot back, take my shoes off and put my feet on the dash (well, if I'm not driving that is!)

Carolina John said...

I love taking road trips. Kelley doesn't fly so if we go anywhere it's via car, sometimes upwards of 12 hours per day. I talk her into the longest trips possible.

Abby said...

This sounds so fun! I want to go with!!! ;)

That is awesome that you get Mom to yourself for a few days. That "game of life" book sounds really interesting!!

When Ryan and I drove cross country to Tucson, we actually had a lot of fun. And it went fast since we did the same thing as you - broke it up into 3 days. In fact, those memories I hold extremely dear to my heart..

Your planning for this trip is very similar to something I would do. But I can't help but think of "As Good As it Gets" as I read your preparations. Remember when he opens the center council, and there are tapes labeled "To Pick up the Mood" "In Times of awkward silence", etc.

Elizabeth said...

LOVE road trips :) Sounds like a great perspective and a good list of things. I would say pick up an easy road atlas, I loved following along on paper and marking the trip down as we's sort of like a keep sake and if GPS fails it's great to have a backup option. Baby carrots & cut up fruit (berries, grapes, apple slices) once you get going. We always traveled with a cooler and bag full of snacks. Baby wipes for sticky hands or rest stops that maybe aren't the most sanitary... and a pillow and a blanket in case one of you wants to snooze for a bit. I think that's all I have to add. So excited for you! :)

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I love road trips! That "If" book sounds fun!!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Love road trips! Before we went on our last one I was a bit worried since I'd never done one with a kid but it was great. We broke up the trip down in about 5-6 hour a day driving chunks. Spent a night with a cousin, spent a fun late afternoon in Nashville and then another early night in Alabama. It was nice because we did just have an hour and half drive the next morning but we had enough light outside that we could wander around with the child and stuff. Smart phones are amazing too. Yelp found us all of our restaurants and it was awesome. I love checking out new places and just pulling off when you see a cool sign.

Amanda said...

I absolutely LOVE long road trips. I've driven cross country multiple times, several of those totally solo. There's something about driving 3,000 miles by yourself that's wonderful!

Shoshanah said...

I'm really not a fan of driving, and will opt for being a passenger if at all possible. But I don't really mind big road trips. The best idea my parents gave me for road trips is to travel with a mini-cooler and stock drinks. This way too if you want to pick up chocolate and wait a few hours to eat it, you can store it in the cooler for a bit.

And I'm still driving my 2001 Toyota Echo from high school, so definitely don't have a USB port either. Although the plan is to upgrade my car later this year, so for the first time ever, I'll be buying my own car!

And good luck and hope you're having a great drive!!

Amber said...

I actually don't mind driving. It's not my favourite but I don't hate it either. After spending 15 hours flying + in airports on Saturday I'm really not a fan of flying right now either, ha! I do like the flexibility driving gives you, you can stop when you want and don't have to abide by anyone elses schedule. I REALLY enjoyed that aspect of having our own car in Ireland. However I do find really long drives to be a bit annoying. It's a 10 hour drive for us to go home to visit our families and we usually do that once or twice a year and I kind of hate it.