My (daily) road trip

WordPress’s #Bloganuary activity, is sending a daily suggestion on blog topics.  I was taken by the question, ‘What road trip would you love to take?’ as the topic they sent the other day.

What is a ‘road trip’?  There’s a Trip Advisor forum discussion on what it is which is fun to read.  Generally, people think it’s a fairly leisurely journey to a specific destination, where you’re not traveling as fast as possible but taking in sights, sounds and experiences along the way. 

Typically, films involving ‘road trips’ imply that the journeys are long – all the way across the US, or from Lands End to John O’Groats, but the Trip Advisor discussion members don’t go along with that.  In answer to the question ‘how long it a road trip?’, the favoured type of reply is ‘how long is a piece of string?’ That’s my idea of a good answer.  You’ll see why in a moment.

The blog post ‘The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Road Trip’, subtitled ‘Everything you need to plan, prep and enjoy an adventure along highways and byways’,  lists 7 actions to take to ensure a good road trip.

That’s a perfect set for me to follow, as pretty much each day I am taking the road trip I love to take.  I walk from my house to my grandchildren’s school, pick them up there, and we go back to my house.   It’s about 1.25 km each way.  Here’s how the 7 points work for us.

Plan our route:  Outbound from my house I have to decide whether to go straight to the school, or via any errands on the way – supermarket, post office, or library are the usual choices.  There’s a mobile library on the route on Fridays which I often use.   Then depending on pick up time, I have to decide which school entrance to use – front, back or side.  The gates are locked in school hours, and opened depending on which age-group of children are being collected.  If I get the gate wrong and arrived at the locked one, I have to hurtle round to the next gate.

The way back offers several options:

  • via construction site – the children love chatting to the traffic marshals there.  They (traffic marshalls) have taught the children thumbs up, fist bumps and how to salute
  • via swings
  • via good pedestrian crossing (longer) or take your chance in heavy traffic (shorter).  I’ve written to the council several times on the possibility of a pedestrian signal on the quicker route with no joy so far
  • via a road with wall that’s good to walk along
  • via a road with interesting parked motorbikes
  • via a road which takes you up to the chip shop

So lots of choice on the way back – which mean the way back is less planned and more 3-way negotiation in the moment.

Book ahead:  this isn’t such a big deal on my road trip most days, but sometimes involves going on a play date, or a friend’s party, or the dentist – this sort of thing has to be factored in, and means flying what’s app messages between me and mission control (their mum).   Sometimes we know in advance, the days when I can’t meet them, or their mum can’t take them, and our book-ahead with each other system creaks.  More frantic what’s apps to sort things out.

Prep your vehicle:  This is critical, one child needs a buggy (where is it?) with weather-ready accessories – cosy toes, raincover, sunshade … The other child needs a bike (where is it).  Bikes and buggy can be in one of two cars, in their house, in my house, or at the school bike/buggy park  Get it wrong and the trip flounders badly.  The buggy child is very heavy to carry, and the bike child is furious if there is no bike.

Keep snacks at the ready:  This is even more critical!  Snacks must be available the instant a child is met.  I have one in each pocket and reserves in my bag.  There are favourite snack and rejected ones – not always predictable as what was favoured one week is rejected the next.  Water too is essential.  There’s also the minefield of what is a suitable snack if a proper meal is on the horizon.  It seems that parents and grandparents have differing views on this.  The snack choices involve multiple delicate negotiation – perhaps as complex as trade deals?

Beyond snacks there’s other stuff to have at the ready – wet wipes, first aid kit, Swiss army knife – you’d be surprised how often the mini scissors are used on the daily road trip.

Plan en route entertainment:  This is not difficult – advance planning is not necessary.  The whole return route is entertaining:  slugs, spiders, snails,ants and other insects to carefully inspect, different vehicles to spot, air traffic of various types to ponder possible destinations of, different types of birds to identify ditto dogs/cats, various novelties that appear on the route to muse on e.g.  a random fridge suddenly appearing kerbside,  garden statuary to enjoy – one garden with the pig statue is much favoured.  Workers are also entertaining street surveyors, shop window cleaners, car transporter unloaders, digger drivers, bin emptiers.  We often stop and chat to them.  

Take care of yourself:  My daily road trip is a complete ‘take care of myself’ workout.  It involves anticipation – which is a known mental health boost. In my case anticipating what these small, curious people tell me about their day?  It involves joy – another health benefit, I get a thrill of pleasure as they spot me arriving and rush to join me clutching their pictures, and their news.  It involves a physical workout – nothing like the almost daily 10 minute run to get to the pick up on time, when I’ve left it my house too late to walk there in a leisurely way.   It involves mindfulness techniques – well researched as beneficial, for example, we can spend 20 minutes minutely examining the path of a worm across the pavement or a snail eating a blackberry (see image).

 … And the environment:  We each have a litter pick-up stick and some days I bring them, and on the way home we pick up the litter.  It’s a great manual dexterity exercise for the children (and me) and also a good to learn that littering is unacceptable.  They are fierce about ‘naughty dog-owners’ who don’t pick up their dog’s poo.  (We don’t pick up the poo with the litter pick-up stick).

How would you answer the question ‘What road trip would you love to take?’ Let me know.

2 thoughts on “My (daily) road trip”

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