Friday, November 13, 2015

Road tripping, then and now.
(Illustration: Erik Mace)I"ve recently become
obsessed with road trips.
Face it — with low gas prices and
astronomical airplane costs, road trips are the way to go.
Except that every
mom I know dreads them.
Because we remember road trips in the 70s, in the way
back of a Buick station wagon.
Yes, as a kid growing up in Texas, at least
once a year I suffered with my two siblings as we crossed the state that never
ended.
Now, as the mother of two teens, I"m the one in the driver"s seat, and
I realize how much my parents suffered.These days, on road trips, kids in the
backseat play on iPads, trying to kill birds or flying pigs.
Back then, kids
played games like I Spy.Now, parents hit a button to pull up GPS directions or
OnStar assistance.
Back then, parents hit the glove box for a map folded 16
ways from Sunday and argued about which route to take.Related:"My Midlife
Crisis: I Bought a Teeny Weeny Trailer to Travel the U.S.The author"s teeny
weeny trailer, hooked up to the Yukon.
(Photo: Lisa McElroy)I recently drove
my 16-year-old daughter and her best friend from Philadelphia to Huntsville,
Alabama, and back.
Talk about a road trip — and yes, I"m a brave mom,
and yes, I"m still here to tell the tale.
But here"s what I learned: these
days, road trips rock, especially when you"re in a GMC Yukon Denali, the 2015
version of my family"s three-row, wood-paneled, Buick station wagon.
At the
end of a modern-day road trip, you will still like your kids, and they will
still like you.
It"s a family travel miracle.Considering a road trip, but too
traumatized by your childhood experiences to want to take the plunge? Well,
I"m here to tell you that we"re living in a whole new world of road
tripping."Here"s why.1.
The kids truly have a separate space."I can still
remember fighting with my siblings — not to mention my parents —
over who got to spin the dial on the radio, who got to adjust the air.
My
father would make John Denver"s voice come out of the single car speaker, and
we"d all have to listen to "Country Roads" for the 97th time.
Parents
conducted.
Kids sang along.
Parents got the cool air.
Kids sweated their butts
off.
Those were the road trip rules."The spacious backseat of the
Yukon.
(Photo: GMC)
Nowadays, in a truck like the Yukon, the kids can stream
their own audio in the back, and you can listen to "Country Roads" in the
front (come on, you know it"s a road trip must).
You can activate the cooled
seats in the front, and the kids can blast air at 60 degrees in the back.
It"s
like two separate road trips in one.
2.
You can still "make good
time.""Remember your parents dragging you out of bed at 4 a.m.
to pile into
the car? They told you to pee now or forever hold your peace.
That was back
when motors weren"t as powerful, rest stops were well off the highway, and the
oil crisis forced states to reduce speed limits to 55 mph.
If you wanted to
make good time to the Grand Canyon, a la the Brady Bunch, you had to drive,
and drive, and drive, and stop only when the car"s tank was bone dry."Related:
10 Things You Never Should Do on a Road TripWhat"s that in the rear-view
mirror?"(Photo: Lisa McElroy)Nowadays, you can practically fly down the road,
even in a giant truck like the Yukon, even pulling a trailer like I was.
More
than 400 horses are powering that engine.
That"s a heck of a lot more than
what my mom"s Buick wagon had in 1975.
Still, a cautionary tale: Alabama po-po
are looking for you.
I was pulled over for going 70 in a 50 mph zone near
Huntsville.
It felt like 30.
Keep your eye on the speedometer — as much
as you like flying, you won"t like returning to Alabama to appear in
court.3.
No child today will ever learn to fold a map."I look back at my 1970s
parents, and I marvel at their ingenuity.
Getting the map refolded just so was
a game for us.
First kid to get all the creases right? She got a Coke (no
cupholder to put it in, but that"s what your little sister was for).
Same
thing with reading road signs — from the time I was 3 or 4, I could
look for the letter "H" for "Houston" or "O" for "Oklahoma."And spotting the
golden arches? You got the golden ticket.
In 2015, all you need is
OnStar.
Seriously.
I am now an OnStar addict.
Available on all GM cars,
pressing a handy blue button will get you turn-by-turn directions (yes, even
for an 800-mile road trip), the location of the next Chipotle along your
route, a coupon for the local crafts store, or a recommendation for a motel or
campground for the night.
All you have to do is ask.
On our two week-road
trip, I asked about 79 times.
On every single button press, I was greeted
politely by a friendly, helpful representative.
That"s service.4.
An accident
may be inconvenient, but there"s help available."I still remember being
stranded around 1974 in some town where tumbleweeds still rolled down the
street, all because my dad had hit a pole or something and now steam was
coming out of the hood of the car (and no, my dad wasn"t sure which button to
push to open the hood, so we kids counted tumbleweeds for a few hours until a
stranger drove by)."Related:"Where to Eat at America"s 11 Best Road Trip
AttractionsThe author, in an old station wagon and feeling like her mom did in
the 70s.
(Photo: Lisa McElroy)
Today, pretty much every car brand offers
24-hour roadside assistance.
If your car doesn"t offer the service, sign up
for AAA.
Seriously.
It"s the best hundred or so bucks you can ever spend.
Or
(the addict speaks again), get a car with OnStar.
Even if you"re in a coma in
your car, the OnStar folks know where you are, know whether your airbags
deployed, even, and can send help right to you.
I was so fascinated by this
possibility that, yes (the travel writer geek in me comes out), I went to
OnStar headquarters in Detroit to see their spaceship-like control room.
There
are maps that light up for every single button push.
Mind-blowing.5.
Your gas
efficiency is out of this world."Sure, that early 70s oil crisis imprinted
itself on my brain.
Still, I remember stopping what seemed like every two
hours to fill up the GM Buick"s tank.
In the 2015 GM? We barely stopped at
all.
The girls got to be afraid I was going to make them try to pee in a Pepsi
bottle.
And at the end of a 1,600-mile, two-week adventure, I"d spent under
$300 on gas.
That"s about half of what one round-trip airline ticket between
Huntsville and Philadelphia would cost.6.
Your family will bond, not
break."Teen road trippers.
(Photo: Lisa McElroy)You know the lie that the
Brady Bunch told? You can pack mom and dad and six kids and Tiger and Alice,
all into a vehicle.
You can drive 500 miles and sing show tunes.
You can camp
along the way.
And you can come out liking each other in the end.
No way.
If
you cram a bunch of people into a car and make them drive and sweat and burp
and play license plate games for days together, they are going to hate each
other at the end of the trip.
I don"t care how nice they are.
Road trips
— at least in their 1970s carnation — were a form of torture
worthy of ISIS.
I"m a firm believer that space brings a family together, it
doesn"t push people apart."So in a large, comfortable, zoned vehicle like the
Yukon? Everyone can spread out, everyone can bring 32 stuffed animals,
everyone can listen to her own music, everyone can burp in peace, and everyone
will be alive when you get home.WATCH:"Mommy Bloggers Reveal Top Tips for
Family TravelLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out
with us on"Facebook,"Twitter, Instagram, and"Pinterest."Check out our original
adventure travel series A Broad Abroad."To learn more about World traveling
club Travel"s travel policy please click here.
Face it — with low gas prices and astronomical airplane costs, road trips
are the way to go.
Because we remember road trips in the 70s, in the way back
of a Buick station wagon.
These days, on road trips, kids in the backseat play
on iPads, trying to kill birds or flying pigs.
Now, parents hit a button to
pull up GPS directions or OnStar assistance..4.
An accident may be
inconvenient, but there"s help available."I still remember being stranded
around 1974 in some town where tumbleweeds still rolled down the street, all
because my dad had hit a pole or something and now steam was coming out of the
hood of the car (and no, my dad wasn"t sure which button to push to open the
hood, so we kids counted tumbleweeds for a few hours until a stranger drove
by)."Related:"Where to Eat at America"s 11 Best Road Trip AttractionsThe
author, in an old station wagon and feeling like her mom did in the
70s.
(Photo: Lisa McElroy)
Today, pretty much every car brand offers 24-hour
roadside assistance.
If your car doesn"t offer the service, sign up for
AAA.
Seriously.
It"s the best hundred or so bucks you can ever spend.
Or (the
addict speaks again), get a car with OnStar.
Even if you"re in a coma in your
car, the OnStar folks know where you are, know whether your airbags deployed,
even, and can send help right to you.
I was so fascinated by this possibility
that, yes (the travel writer geek in me comes out), I went to OnStar
headquarters in Detroit to see their spaceship-like control room.
There are
maps that light up for every single button push.
Mind-blowing.5.
Your gas
efficiency is out of this world."Sure, that early 70s oil crisis imprinted
itself on my brain.
Still, I remember stopping what seemed like every two
hours to fill up the GM Buick"s tank.
In the 2015 GM? We barely stopped at
all.
The girls got to be afraid I was going to make them try to pee in a Pepsi
bottle.
And at the end of a 1,600-mile, two-week adventure, I"d spent under
$300 on gas.
That"s about half of what one round-trip airline ticket between
Huntsville and Philadelphia would cost.6.
Your family will bond, not
break."Teen road trippers.
(Photo: Lisa McElroy)You know the lie that the
Brady Bunch told? You can pack mom and dad and six kids and Tiger and Alice,
all into a vehicle.
You can drive 500 miles and sing show tunes.
You can camp
along the way.
And you can come out liking each other in the end.
No way.
If
you cram a bunch of people into a car and make them drive and sweat and burp
and play license plate games for days together, they are going to hate each
other at the end of the trip.
I don"t care how nice they are.
Road trips
— at least in their 1970s carnation — were a form of torture
worthy of ISIS.
I"m a firm believer that space brings a family together, it
doesn"t push people apart."So in a large, comfortable, zoned vehicle like the
Yukon? Everyone can spread out, everyone can bring 32 stuffed animals,
everyone can listen to her own music, everyone can burp in peace, and everyone
will be alive when you get home.WATCH:"Mommy Bloggers Reveal Top Tips for
Family TravelLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out
with us on"Facebook,"Twitter, Instagram, and"Pinterest."Check out our original
adventure travel series A Broad Abroad."To learn more about World traveling
club Travel"s travel policy please click here.
Face it — with low gas
prices and astronomical airplane costs, road trips are the way to go.
Because
we remember road trips in the 70s, in the way back of a Buick station
wagon.
These days, on road trips, kids in the backseat play on iPads, trying
to kill birds or flying pigs.
Now, parents hit a button to pull up GPS
directions or OnStar assistance.

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