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Have Car, Will Travel: Vacations By Car

Oct 22, 2007
With vacation season in full force, you may be planning a getaway of your own. Once you've figured out where you're going, you have to decide on how to get there. Some places require traveling by air; it's the only way to get there, so the decision is an easy one. If it's a location to which you can drive, however, you're faced with a choice: should you drive, or should you fly?

Everyone has preferences for modes of travel, of course. For many, flight is the preferred option. From a certain perspective, it makes perfect sense--you spend less time getting there so you can spend more time being there.

Traveling by car takes time. It won't have you kicking back on the beach or relaxing in the mountains ASAP There are stops for fuel, stops for bathroom breaks, stops to eat or stretch your legs. There's the potential of getting lost, of taking the wrong turn and having to repeatedly peruse a road atlas to find your way--of having to backtrack, grumbling all the while because you've gone twenty miles out of your way.

On a road trip, there are fuel expenses. There is wear and tear on the car, and the ever-dreaded possibility that it may break down and need repairs along the way. If you're traveling with others, a drive can entail close contact with those people for extended periods of time. Whether you're alone or have company, it will definitely entail being largely confined to a small space for the duration of the drive.

Given all this, you may ask: why would anyone choose to drive? Why would anybody embarking on a vacation opt to spend one or more days driving, when it would be so much easier, quicker, and more convenient to just book a flight?

The fact is, there's something special about taking a long trip by car. It has nothing to do with efficiency, or getting to where you're going as quickly as possible. It has to do with viewing your vacation as an adventure, a journey--and appreciating the whole journey, including the process of getting there.

When you travel by airplane, you step into a metal compartment. Within an hour or two, presto! You simply step back out in a different place, usually none the worse for wear and in the same state of mind, more or less, as when you stepped on. For all intents and purposes, you might as well have been transported between places, much like in the old science fiction movies or television shows.

By contrast, when you travel by car, there's a sense of having moved through space, of having gone somewhere. Sure, there was a starting point and an ending point, just as in air travel--but there's a keen awareness of having traversed the miles. You were there for every one of them.

All those places you might have peered at from your window seat in an airplane? You were there. You saw the roll of the land, and the shadows cast on them by the sun. They weren't just crosshatched impressions of fields and cities, unimaginably distant. They were fields and cities: up-close, personal, and real.

For some people, the old adage, "It's not about the destination, but about the journey" still rings true. If you're one of these people--and you happen to be planning a vacation--driving is still the only way to go.
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