Tuesday, October 25, 2005

“Elizabethtown” Brings Road Tripping into the 21st Century

How cool is this? You are driving down the highway listening to custom CD’s with “road-appropriate” music and information about what to see. “This movie really showcases the technology that is available to completely customize your trips” says Carol White, author of Live Your Road Trip Dream – Travel for a year for the cost of staying home (RLI Press, 2004, www.roadtripdream.com). She continues, “Even just a few years ago, taking road trips meant being out of touch and fumbling with maps and travel guides. Now you can surf the web (not recommended while in the driver’s seat, however), listen to custom audios about things along the way, check your email back home and call to check-in, all while living your road trip dream.”

White, who along with her husband Phil, took off and traveled the country for a year as part of making their dreams come true, knows a lot about the technology of road tripping. But before you even consider your technology needs, there are a few things you must do.

"The first thing you must do is set a date. It doesn’t matter how far in the future that date is, setting the date makes it real,” says Carol. “Once you have committed to the time you will leave on your trip, then everything begins to fall into place – a self-fulfilling prophecy” adds Phil.

“We’re not trying to make is sound too simplistic, because there are lots of details to be arranged to make a great road trip happen, but if all you do is dream and wish, the chances of it ever happening are remote. Once you have made the commitment to yourself, your friends and family will begin to realize you are serious, and begin to help you make it a reality,” says Carol.

She goes on to encourage others, “People we met all along the way had some version of a road trip in their heads, but couldn’t figure out how to extricate themselves from their daily lives to go live their dream. Whether it is a road trip, a trek through Asia, a backpacking trip through Europe or a sailboat trip around the world, it seems that everyone has a travel dream. When we returned, I did some research and found that their was no guide to help people through all the issues and details—including planning your technology needs, so we decided to write one to encourage all the retiring baby boomers and mid-life sabbatical-takers to go have this fabulous experience for themselves.”

Even if you don’t have a girlfriend to make a custom CD for you like in the movie, there are all kinds of great ideas for what to take along. Carol laughs and says, “If you are directionally-challenged and can’t read a map, a GPS system is pretty much a must.” Phil agrees and adds, “My favorite piece of technology was our lap top PC. It allowed me to keep up with all the sports scores along the way, and to load our Trailer Life Campground CD as we rolled along, and have a place picked out in no time.”

The Whites go into great detail in their book not only about how to choose your technology for the trip, but also how to manage your life back home while you are gone. They also provide would-be travelers with tips about everything from what to do with your house and cars, to how to budget and pay for such a trip, to how to manage relationships while you are gone, to what to do about mail, bills and investments.

Their final piece of advice? Don’t over plan your trip. It is the serendipitous adventures that happen along the way that are the most precious and if you have planned out every detail, you will either miss the greatest moments of the trip, or find yourself undoing plans along the way. As the trailer for “Elizabethtown” says, “amazing things can happen when you least expect them.” That is what a good road trip is really all about. So grab your gear and go have the experience for yourself.

For more information on planning your trip, to order your copy of the book, or to invite the Whites to speak to your organization about taking your trip of a lifetime, go to their website at http://www.roadtripdream.com/. The book is also available from online retailers or your favorite bookstore.

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