Trip Planning

Back in the day, before Google siphoned all the fun out of planning that special vacation journey, travelers had to rely on non-Internet tools to route their vacations. Some of these old-school accouterments were things like maps, gazetteers, and a handy-dandy atlas.

Now, all you have to do is ask Google (or Siri), “what’s the way to San Jose?” and before you can say “Swiss cheese for brains,” you’ll be routed on your way.

Growing up, I remember the year our family took a vacation trip to Burlington, Vermont. I think I was 13, or maybe even 14-years-old. My sister was two years younger. I still fondly remember that first trip to Burlington, a vibrant college town, nestled alongside Lake Champlain.

Of course, traveling with the ‘rents sometimes meant that Dad, Herman, or Winter Carnival King of ’51, required quadrants so he’d know his bearings along the way. If he didn’t get them from Saint Helen of Immaculata, he might get a bit cranky, and of course, it might become hell on wheels between the two of them. I think I get some of my driving impatience from my dad when I’m logging time behind the wheel on a trip, and I get lost somewhere between points A and B. Maybe it’s just a male thing. Can I even publicly state that men and women are different? I sure hope so.

Hitting the open road!

Hitting the open road!

When our young family started taking vacations, AAA offered their members (which we were) something they called a TripTik®. This was custom-designed specifically for you and wherever you happened to be going in your automobile. Included were detailed maps and guides offering up local and regional information.

Like the Carnival King, not knowing where I was going could make the JBE cranky, and Miss Mary was never extraordinary with a map. In fact, often, I’d yell across to my harried navigator for bearings from the map, and she might be looking at it upside-down. Ah, the good ole’ days.

Of course, Julie-Ann and I didn’t care that we’d missed that turn in New Hampshire and were now traveling east when we should have been going west. It was the same way with our son, Mark. While Mary and I were quarreling about map directions, he was taking in the scenery, or reading a book in the back seat.

It’s funny how we call not knowing exactly where we are as being “lost.” On our trip to Burlington, we may not have known exactly where we were in relation to Route 302, or whether we were even on 302 (Herman used to say that New Hampshire had lousy road signage), but we knew we were in the car, on our way to Vermont, and at that point, were still in the Granite State.

Mary and I learned that our friends at AAA could take some of the stress out of traveling. Their step-by-step directions allowed us to get to where we were going with a minimal amount of conflict and arguing about whether to turn right or left.

In life, everyone has a journey they were meant to embark upon. Sometimes, we start out without clear directions. Of course, technology is supposed to solve all our ills and usher in a golden age. Technology even allows others to know exactly where we are (even if we’re still not quite sure). Apparently some enjoy the “freedom” of not having to make decisions, or knowing how to read a map.

My journey is likely different than yours. That doesn’t matter.

Figure out where you need to be, and start heading in the general direction. And it really doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling with a map, a navigator reading from a TripTik®, or a GPS device speaking directions from your smartphone. What matters is that you are on your way to where you need to go.

All you need is a map.

All you need is a map.

4 thoughts on “Trip Planning

  1. I used to be incredible with a map. Give me a street map of a city at night, I could find where I was in a minute while I was still driving.

    Then I got a TomTom in Europe. I still keep maps, but mostly to correct the TomTom, which often has very creative routes and destinations.

    She Who Must Not Be Named was useless with maps. Useless. When we lived in Marietta, Georgia, she took off for Lenox Plaza in Atlanta, with our infant daughter in the car. Although not close, it really involved only two turns.

    She called me from Knoxville, Tennessee. Where, oddly enough, she ended up having traditional tea with a Japanese lady in her garden. I don’t know how she accomplished these things. She ticked off the docents at the Reggia Caserta, the great Bourbon palace in Caserta, Italy, by taking their pictures–not allowed! But by the time she was done apologizing we were invited into parts of the palace into which tourists were not admitted. His Bourbon majesty had an eight kilometer tunnel from the palace to the summer retreat at Carditello (somehow, she got us into the private quarters there as well), but her Bourbon majesty had an amazing system of mirrors built into the walls that let her watch the gate of the palace from her bath, sufficient alert to give her plenty of time to send those attendant young men on their way before his majesty arrived in the domestic quarters.

    The things you learn when you don’t go where you set out to go at the beginning.

  2. Herman wasn’t the only one that used to say NH had lousy road signs on our numerous Sunday drives.

  3. @LP
    Map-reading is an art that is doomed. You are right about tech gadgets like TomTom and of course, our phones, for routing us these days.

    I still keep my Delorme Gazetteer in the car and refer to it from time-to-time.

    @Greg
    My trips through New Hampshire these are always on I-95. I’m curious if I decided to leave the beaten path if road signage would be an issue these days?

  4. I have to travel in NH fairly often for work, it has improved. Maybe it’s just that we are different people than our fathers and look for different things.

Comments are closed.