American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Diversions on the Open Road
Since I was a small child, traveling with my mother on lengthy road trips across America, I’ve clocked a lot of miles on this country’s highways and byways. While I’m accustomed to the long drives and the sometimes boring stretches (especially that particular part of I-10, from San Antonio to El Paso), even I need ways to pass the time – not to mention various state lines.
Given that I'll soon be on the road again – making my seasonal journey from northern Michigan to southern Louisiana, where I'll be working on the third edition of Moon New Orleans – I can't help but reflect on such diversions. Here, in no particular order, are the seven ways that often help to combat boredom on the open road:
Conversation: Whether riding with my mom from New Orleans to New York or traveling with my husband, Daniel, from South Padre Island to Los Angeles, I’ve always found that conversation is an ideal way to ignore the discomfort of road travel. From movies and music to current events and upcoming destinations, the topics are indeed endless and engrossing.
Auto bingo: When I was a kid, I used to love playing auto bingo with my mom. Since she was driving and unable to have her own card, we would share one – trying, together, to spy the things (from silos to police cruisers to tanker trucks) pictured on the bingo card. It was a hoot and a half, especially the time that we needed to spot a pig, and a whole truckload passed right by my window. Today, Dan and I have our own bingo card – but we have yet to play it. Perhaps tomorrow?
XM Radio: What would Dan and I do without our XM? From comedy channels and old radio serials to classic tunes and news programs, our XM keeps us entertained for hours on end. How ever did Mom and I travel without it?
Truck stops: If our legs are feeling sore, or we just can’t stand another moment in the van, Dan and I simply seek out a truck stop – whether it’s a Flying J, a Pilot Travel Center, a Petro Stopping Center, a Love’s Travel Stop, or a TravelCenter of America. There, we typically find quirky gifts, yummy snacks and beverages, relatively clean restrooms, paperbacks and audiobooks, and, if we’re feeling so inclined, a restaurant, an arcade, and private showers.
Wireless Internet: I must admit that, as with my childhood journeys with Mom, Dan tends to be the designated driver while I tend to be the designated navigator (ironic considering that I’m, at times, directionally challenged). Since I often sit in the passenger seat, I often have access to my beloved laptop, which can usually find a wireless signal, even in rather remote places – meaning that I can surf the blogosphere while the asphalt passes beneath me. What a modern world we live in!
Audiobooks: In recent years, Dan and I have discovered the wonders of audiobooks – particularly audiobook versions of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, as read by the amazing American actor Will Patton. Why, tomorrow morning, it'll be Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol that might just keep the boredom at bay.
Unexpected side trips: Though stopping for fast-food treats can certainly dispel the monotony of a long road trip, an even better way to remedy any on-the-road doldrums is to embrace the oddities along the way, even if it means deviating from your schedule a bit. Once, while traveling across the country via I-40, Dan and I decided to make a detour in Amarillo, Texas – and after a fascinating visit to the one-and-only Big Texan Steak Ranch and the nearby Palo Duro Canyon, we were happy we'd taken the time for an unplanned stop.
So, my fellow travelers, have you ever experienced lengthy car trips? If so, what do you usually do to fight the boredom?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and my Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo / Text © 2010 Laura Martone