We leave my husband, who has a much less flexible job and our three very inflexible mutts, and hit the road. I have some ideas that are pretty important of what help to make road trips amazing. Here they are...
1. Great music: Have a playlist ready to go. It should be singable. You should know the lyrics by heart (or at least what you THINK the lyrics are), and these songs should make you smile and rock in your seat. Throw in an occasional heartfelt ballad to belt out to unsuspecting passing cars. And- may I just suggest the 80s? Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney, Hall and Oats, Journey, Rick Springfield. Also, throw in a "Sweet Baby James" right after "Raspberry Beret." This crazy emotional juxtaposition keeps you awake and your passengers guessing.
2. Great Local Food: Sure, I love a Big Mac and fries on occasion as much as the next girl, but allow yourself to creep off the road and look for some local food. If you are near the coast, eat seafood, for goodness sakes. If you have the opportunity to try some delicious, local flavor, do it! Ask a local at the gas station, they will tell you. Oh, and don't eat at gas stations; just don't. On the other hand, orchards on the side of the road with fresh fruit and vegetables and hot boiled peanuts. Yep! That's more like it.
3. Stop and Look! Life is short, and we rush through it like we always have somewhere better to be. Be present. Stop rushing. If you see a sign for the largest ball of yarn and that amazes you, pull off and go see it. This may be your only chance. Sometimes, you may find historical markers. History is my thing, so I try and read up a bit before I travel. I love getting to see bits and pieces of history as I drive.
4. Talk to People: My final suggestion is that wherever you are- meet people. That is the joy: to connect with people you might not have ever had the opportunity to meet. Gather a story, share a joke, a smile, whatever. You have something to learn from everyone you meet. I believe this. Be open to conversations with strangers. Having said that, I am Southern, and apparently, or so I am told, this is easier in the South. I am not sure though. I have traveled in Europe and have visited California, Mississippi, and New York and met so many interesting people.
Also, the road trip is about connecting to those with you in the car. Some of the best conversations occur as the trees whiz past and towns and days turn to night.