Lessons From The Road

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A light-hearted look things learned during a multi-day car trip

A friend claims a day isn’t wasted if you learned at least one thing. Other than getting you closer to your destination, several long days of driving may feel like wasted time. But if I look at what I learned on a recent three and a half days on the road and use my friend’s definition, the time wasn’t wasted at all.

♦  It is not a good idea to inadvertently put the SIM card into your smart phone without the tray it sits in. It will not work and unless you have tiny, tiny tweezers you will not be able to extract it yourself.

♦  Best Buy’s Geek Squad are helpful in above situation. And they don’t make you feel like an idiot. (It’s possible they laugh behind the counter after you’ve left.)

♦  Take care with any writing you do in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. It may be illegible later and you may not remember enough to fill in the blanks. I used my time on the road in the passenger seat to read a book I was scheduled to review. I made notes about things which might be relevant for the review. Fortunately, I took enough care with my writing to be able to figure out what most of it was.

♦  Your smart phone works better if you insert the correct SIM card, the one you activated and have a plan for.

♦  Obtaining lots of maps from CAA/AAA may be useful – in my case, nine maps. When weather or other circumstances necessitate a route change, you may have the state map(s) for your new route.

♦ When setting the alarm clock in your hotel room, make sure the volume is set loud enough to hear.

♦  When your route involves turning onto another road/highway amid a circle of routes around a large city, using the map inset for that city rather than relying on the general state map may mean the difference between getting on the right road or not. On the other hand, a forty-five minute scenic, rural drive can be like a peaceful, deep breath amid a day of interstate travel.

♦  Even smart people do stupid things at times. See many of the above lessons.

♦  Ask hotel clerks for dining recommendations. You may learn that the restaurant on the other side of the parking lot is a favourite with hotel patrons and was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. You may get a discount coupon for a nearby restaurant. You may discover a historic and unusual place.

♦  There seem to be fewer things to learn when the road is smooth and the journey easy.

♦  As with most things in life, the journey is more pleasant with a little patience, a sense of humour, and an open mind.

What lessons have you learned on the road?

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  1. Donna, this was such a neat tongue-in-cheek post – thoroughly enjoyed it. I can well imagine that an unplanned scenic route would be a welcome change from highway driving. Loved the SIM card story – could happen to anyone, right? Hope you enjoy your winter as a Snowbird.

    1. Thanks Lenie. As to the SIM card story, at the time I felt like there was no way this would happen to someone else. But later I remembered someone at the phone story warning me about this a year ago. I guess it does happen to others.

  2. I like this post Donna as it applies in every way to us all. I especially like the way you round it out as this is a lesson more should learn. “As with most things in life, the journey is more pleasant with a little patience, a sense of humour, and an open mind.”

  3. Hello Donna
    I feel this is story of everyone who travels. I like story of sim card and have faced this problem many times and now I have small tweezers permanently in my wallet 🙂
    The line in the beginning is one of my fav. from Childhood. ” The day on which I have learnt nothing, is not the part of my life”.

    It is good idea to ask local people about things and places you want to visit as most of the time we can not get good information through net of maps.

    Thank you for great tips. All the best.

  4. Check to make sure your phone charger is securely plugged in and the light is on before spending three hours with your phone connected but not charging and then discovering it is dead as a doorknob. Especially important when you are relying on the GPS on your phone rather than maps.

  5. One lesson I learned on the road is to update my GPS once I crossed over to west of the Mississippi. My Garmin only holds detailed maps for half of the country, so once we got halfway done with our trip we had no side roads in its memory to help guide us on side trips and to get to our hotels.

    1. It’s tough when you rely on GPS (or even paper maps) that don’t have the detail you need. I like to print off the detail right around the hotels we’ve booked before I head out.

  6. I only travel with my built-in Navigation, which is in every car we own. So, I can’t get lost, thank goodness. Remember to take my phone charger. And, finally, the last two times I traveled I totally forgot my toothbrush and toothpaste. So, now I make a checklist the night before so I don’t forget a thing!

  7. hi donna; well being a carney for over 20 years i have lots of stories and even more lessons but most of them would have to be severely edited to be shared in mixed company. 🙂 but a couple weeks ago i went on a trip to san antonio with the houston chapter of the national federation of the blind. you haven’t lived until you’ve been on a bus or checked into a hotel with 30 or 40 people with canes and a few guide dogs sprinkled in for good measure. i learned that buses not only have wifi but they have electrical outlets something that would have helped greatly if i had known and not packed the charger to my cell phone in my checked bag. also would have been great to know that if i charge my phone using the usb on my laptop that i can actually know for sure when it is charging and when it isn’t. sadly this wasn’t the case with the regular AC adaptor for it. when i needed to call to make connections with my ride home from the greyhound terminal i couldn’t call them and they couldn’t call me. but i did get home. then it took me two days to get around to unpacking and putting stuff back where it goes. guess i’m going to have to call this trip practice and try to get more practice before i take off for australia new zealand the u k or the famous parts unknown. thanks for sharing what you learned, max

    1. I can imagine that bus trip. Must have interesting. It is hard some times to verify that a device is actually charging. We rely on our electronics so much these days, an out-of-power item or a forgotten cord can be traumatic.

  8. HI Donna, i have learned the hard way to make sure my shampoo is wrapped separately from everything else…rookie mistake i guess but one I will not make again after discovering everything i had packed was covered in shampoo (it was lavender scented so it could have been worse!)

  9. I used to make my living as a sales person, on the road and covering 4 states! I learned to make friends with the hotel personnel (I always stayed in the same places.) They’d always leave extra coffee in my room AND they always saved the room I liked best for me!

  10. Very humorous post though i did like your friends quote about learning one new thing a day. Being on the rode is tough, and to be honest its a while since Ive been on a road trip. But a friend once told me that when she travelled from East to West coast and would read a book while she was travelling. !! Not such a great idea methinks.

  11. I learned that a lot of stereotypes about people are wrong. I learned that there are some good people in this world. I learned that everyone has a story.

  12. Donna- I am lucky because I have a husband who is map crazy and doesn’t believe the GPS. I have am glad I have him on long drives. The downside is that I rely on it too much and do not like to do it alone.

    1. I like my paper maps too. When we drive, I am usually the navigator. My husband does most of the driving, although I will take a spell during the afternoon so he can rest. We make sure he is driving when we have tricky routes or route changes ahead so I can navigate. Fortunately he is patient if we make the occasional mistake and I can usually figure out how to get us back on track.

  13. These are all wonderful lessons. I’ve made a lot of road trips over the years and outside of having my “safety kit” tucked in the trunk I always force myself to make time for exercise. It keeps me feeling alert and healthy and for me at least serves as a great reminder to pass on the fast food because it’s so darn easy to fall into the convenience habit when you’re having fun. Thanks for the inspiration Donna!

  14. I too have learned the nail polish lesson the hard way. It took a few trips, though, because the first times I thought maybe I hadn’t tightened it or packed it properly.

  15. Boy have I learned a few… like make sure you have your chargers with you and I mean all chargers… LOL. Keep my GPS updated. boht of these have have been on my checkoff list ever sense a few mishaps… LOL.

    1. Cheryl, we do seem to learn more when things are tough. Hopefully we can learn enough from just a few rough spots and enjoy better times more often.