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New Year's Resolution: Make Those Road Trips Happen! by Carol White

Yes, it is New Year's resolutions time - time to examine our priorities and maybe shuffle them a bit. Do you think that you are too busy or too broke to go on a road trip this year? Think again. With a little planning, you can do it for less and shake off some of the anxiety that has dogged everyone in this shaky economy. Carol White resolves to get more enjoyment from life by making those road trips happen.

U.S. Capitol

Visit the U.S. Capitol just in time for the inauguration

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Photo by Gerald Thurman

 

Another New Year is coming your way, the beginning of the rest of your life. Personally, I love this time of year because we all get to do a mini "do over" on our lives - throw out some bad habits, adopt some good ones. So what will it be for you?

Every year, people go through the same old set of tired ideas - lose weight, save money, humor the boss, stop snapping at the kids - everyone gets a piece of our best intentions. All well and good, but at some point don't you just want to scream, "What about enjoying life more?" The problem is, most resolutions are defect-driven. Think about it - overweight, out of shape, broke, crabby - all things that are wrong with you. It makes you depressed before you start.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Instead of finding our faults we could be fulfilling our dreams, and for road trippers that means resolving to get back on the road. I, for one, am feeling hopeful as we approach the end of 2008. Gas prices are down after climbing over $4 a gallon last summer, we've elected a new president, and we are all learning what we have to do to manage the recession that set in this year. We still have to eat and pay the mortgage, of course, but making time for ourselves and our families and friends also needs to be a priority. If we're not fueled from the inside, we certainly won't be able to fuel our cars or heat our homes.

Here are some ideas to make your next road trip happen. I hope you will put them on your New Year's Enjoyment List.

Block out the time on your calendar right now. Having a goal goes a long way toward making your road trip a reality.

Prioritize spending to set some money aside. Give up a couple of Starbucks each week, skip a dinner out, play cards at home instead of going to a movie. You'll have your road trip nest egg before you know it.

Get your traveling companions involved with the planning. I always think it is more fun anticipating the event when everyone who is going along has a part in it. In families with children, this means giving even small children a task - maybe just marking off the days on a calendar until you leave. With friends, meet from time to time to give each other updates and encouragement.

Pick a theme or set of ideas for your trip and start gathering information. If money is an issue, ditch Disney and other packaged attractions and enjoy the thrills that nature has given us, instead. Maybe this is the year to visit our national parks (always a good value). Or how about building a road trip around photography, bicycling or hiking? RoadTrip America has hundreds of destinations and ideas to help you plan your trip

Consider a shorter route, closer to home this year. It's always amazing to me how many things I haven't yet seen in Oregon and I've lived here most of my life and traveled most every major highway. Take a day trip close to home or, if business takes you out of town, take some personal time to explore in a rental car. Every state puts out a Visitors Guide each year. Get one for your own state or a neighboring state and see what festivals, events and attractions are close by that you would enjoy.

Use the power of the Internet to find little-known treasures that fit your budget and itinerary. For example, there are lots of funky hot springs tucked in out-of-the-way locations, working horse ranches sometimes welcome guests - you can even find archeological digs looking for volunteers. One of my favorite finds using the Internet was a guest ranch in Washington that could accommodate my whole family for a family reunion. No phones, no television, no Internet - we just got to focus on having fun together.

Start collecting your road trip tunes. For me, one of the best parts of a road trip is having new tunes, podcasts and audio books to listen to. Click here for our recommendations for some of the best audio books for the road.

Keep the dream alive.I get antsy, I want to get going, so I need an outlet for that energy until the time comes to hit the road. Joining the discussion group here on RTA, or reading a book related to my destination, or even making lists of what I'm going to take seems to satisfy that urge until my New Year's resolution trip comes up on the calendar. Maybe I need to take my own advice and start crossing off those days!

So instead of making the same old tired resolutions, plan your 2009 road trip now. You'll have your trip ready to roll in no time, and your spirits will be better, too. Then maybe some of those "defect-driven" resolutions will just take care of themselves!

Carol White
12/22/08


 

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