The Journey is the Destination: Prepare for a Spontaneous Road Trip

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Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

Ok, y’all KNOW how much I like road trips, right? Planned or spontaneous, I do it all!

To me, road trips are life. You know what else is life? Water. That’s right. No matter our plans, journeys, and destinations, that’s probably the #1 aspect to think about – ESPECIALLY with kids in the picture. You can find Nestlé® products at Walmart online, but make sure to visit the store for the 35 pack! As shoppers, we are receiving a great value by getting 3 more bottles for the same price as the old 32 pack! If the 35-pack of Nestlé® Pure Life® is not available in your local Walmart, please ask a store manager about getting the product in your area.

The 24-pack is available for purchase online

The Nestle Pure Life 35-pack is re-launching in May in store! With NEW PACKAGING! That’s always fun, right?

road trip

Now onto our scheduled story about how to prepare for a spontaneous/no-destination road trip. My favorite kind!

In fact, sometimes even the planned ones wind up following their own curves and paths. And then with each one I realize, we didn’t stick to the original itinerary even a little! That feeling I got when I was 17 and had just received my driver’s license? It never fully went away. It never got old. Road trips make you feel ALIVE.

road trip

And connected. Of course, I have a story!

I was 23. It was a January ice storm and I was fed up! I had a new car, some extra graduation money, and a heart for adventure. At first we thought we wanted to go to New Mexico, but then we read that the deserts get cold in the winter so we decided we’d go south. For us, it was ALL about the journey. We packed layers, picked up supplies at Walmart, and then we were off. We kept driving until there was no more ice, and eventually no more night. You can say we drove off the ice and darkness – shaking them off! We wound up in Jacksonville, Florida.

Then we kept driving all the way to the ends of the earth (or the US) to Key West.

road trip

With stops in the Carolinas, a sunrise breakfast in Savannah, Georgia, and fun jaunts in Key Largo, Islamorada, and anywhere with alligators, I loved that we didn’t know the essential Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How answers of a planned trip. I think we found even more adventure than we thought possible. Adventures included shining a flashlight in the ocean before dawn and seeing an octopus! There was swimming with dolphins and rays, and renting bicycles. There was staying at the fancy hotel in Key West, charming the Customer Service Desk enough that she gave us free breakfast upgrade passes, and ordering juice on the beach. It was amazing!

I’ll never forget that feeling of driving through Miami and then getting onto Route 1 into the wilderness of deer, alligators and tarpons. I could go on and on describing that trip but the point is that we followed our wildest dreams into an ocean adventure. If that’s not living, I don’t know what is. Now we still have adventurous spirits, but we have kids. While “planning” seems to defeat the purpose of a spontaneous road trip, you can “prepare” for one in no time at all. I go on a lot of road trip adventures – up and down the east coast, all over New England, in California’s wine country, and throughout some amazing parts of Alaska. I can’t pick a favorite destination!

And that’s because it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Nestle Pure Life

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

Ready to learn how to feel inspired by spring/summer/fall road trips, but also prepared and secure? I’ve got ya!

1 – Water, of course, as mentioned above! Pure Life is re-launching in mid-May and will have new packaging. This one is a no-brainer for my family. We thrive on hydration to power up our adventures! Nestlé Pure Life is committed to delivering pure, great-tasting water to our family and yours – because every drop in every bottle is filtered through a 12-step quality process. They ensure great taste by enhancing their water with a unique blend of minerals. Through recycling at both schools, both kids have made sure we’re committed to recycling!

Nestle Pure Life

2 – Snacks are key. This is another no-brainer but when you don’t know how long you’ll be in the car – hours, days, or weeks – you have to bring foods that last. Think fruit, dried fruit, trail mix, beef or turkey jerky, nutrition bars, etc. Think water, of course. I mentioned water, right? Water and snacks. And personally I love to pick up the local foods at the places on my journey. Think whoopie pies in New England, or Key Lime Pie in Florida!

road trip snacks

3 – Don’t wait until you’re too tired to find a hotel or place to stay. I have done this, way too many times. Luckily for me, it was before I had kids so I only had a cranky boyfriend, friend, or cranky self to contend with!

road trip hotels

4 – Use your websites and apps to find unsold accommodations and attractions tickets. Last minute travel sites and apps let your name your own price on last-minute hotels and attractions. You might not know where you’re staying until you’ve already paid, but maybe that’s part of the fun? You can save a lot of money on these sites – specifically designed for last minute trips! Apparently, the spirit of adventure can be rewarding in financial ways.

spontaneous road trip

5 – Plan your route, even spontaneously. Even with no destination in mind, you’ll want to have SOME idea of where you’re headed and how long you’ll have on the road. Websites like Road Trip America and Rand McNally offer free road trip routes to help you plan your drive. You don’t have to be too specific – just click on the regions you want to visit and you’ll get several options. This will help you with time management, sight-seeing, and is crucial if you don’t have an open-ended trip in mind, but need to be home! You can also create and plot out backup routes and trips. That way the spirit of spontaneity lives on! I do this for all trips – long-planned or not.

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

6 – Have a travel bucket list. Checking off items becomes easier as you set forth on adventures!

adventures

7 – Combat boredom. Think ahead about music, video games, and travel games too!

8 – Know your budget. You will have to divide it between lodging, gas, food, souvenirs, attractions, etc.

9 – Pack light and prep your car. This is the time to downsize on what you pack. Pack your own cleanup supplies, and check your car tires, fluids, battery, brakes, and gas!

10 – Take a TON of photos!

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Have you ever gone on a spontaneous, no-destination road trip? It's all about the journey sometimes. Here are tips to make the best of it! #PureLife35pk #ad

And, Enjoy your adventures!

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XVII: Last Song

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV, Part XV, and Part XVI. Where did we leave off last? Oh, boy! Talkeetna! We spent 24 hours there, making lemonade out of lemons, by ziplining after our Denali Flight Tour dreams were all squashed by the weather. We had a locals’ dinner, a tourists’ dessert, and then went looking fruitlessly for moose, but fruitfully for adventure – like abandoned earth stations and tales of severed moose heads. Sometimes I have something so deep-rooted and burrowed that I want to say, but I don’t know how to say it. I’ll let Eddie Money say it, but pretend it’s me.

I may not have his obvious charisma, but this is about more than Talkeetna. It’s the whole thing. It’s the whole life. It’s dreams and magic and little girl wishes. There’s nothing I can say to make you understand, but it’s ok. I imagine you get it anyway. It’s about that hollowed out feeling from things beginning and ending. And how every ending is a beginning, and every beginning is an ending. It’s about how nothing is ever as it seems, or how you imagined it when you wanted it for SO LONG. That’s ok, too. Sometimes the reality is even better. Achier. Breakier. Heartier. It has grooves & heights. Peaks & dips.

It can knock you off your feet, and make you lightheaded and dizzy.

Now bear with me, because this post could easily be two posts, as it is two or more stories, and I’m even adding two songs for you. We woke up on our last day at Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B and went to the main house for breakfast. It was awesome to sit with other guests and talk about Alaska land, Denali, and bull moose. There was spotty WiFi but I remember taking a shower and then making a video for work out there in the wilderness. I was even wearing a lumberjack shirt. During checkout, Bill suggested we go back to Anchorage through Hatcher Pass, therefore bypassing Wasilla – easily the ONE place in Alaska I wasn’t completely captivated by – but we were only on the main road once. I’m certain there’s beauty there.

Hatcher Pass wasn’t shabby, though! It was an old road for the gold miners! So cool! #TheMoreYouKnow

It was foggy and drizzly, with cold wind gusts. We went to check out a lodge on a mountain out there – boasting warm soup and awesome views – but it was closed! I didn’t take a lot of photos, other than the ones above. It was hard conditions for it and I was tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes the world is almost too beautiful? Magical and barely touched – like a watercolor. It was like that, but also cold, rainy, and windy. I was numbed over because of all the beauty and emotions.

I wouldn’t kick this view out of bed:

Our flight was a red-eye, so we had the whole day to explore. We headed to Anchorage – and had dinner plans later with Erika and Steve. Remember them from the beginning of the story? They’re our family and they had given us our first moose, first soup, and first warm bed in Alaska nine days previously. It was probably around late afternoon now, and I had to tackle Anchorage’s WiFi for a blog post first. Yes, even on vacation, but it was only one or two! So I went to a McDonald’s while Cassidy decided to go back to Eagle River to explore the visitors center. Well, while I smelled french fries I didn’t ever intend to eat, he was seeing what he thought might be his last moose of Alaska. We all know smartphones don’t zoom in so well:

Holy cow, though! Not cow. Holy bull! He did a solo hike and saw his second bull moose of all time on a secluded bog. In Alaska. MAN. And it was his favorite moose encounter of the whole trip, and maybe of forever, although we saw our first moose in the wild together in 2004. She might have favorites rights for all time? I don’t know, though. What makes me happy is that Cassidy’s favorite moose encounter actually became his SECOND favorite. That’s right. With only a few hours to spare left before our flight, we somehow topped that together. He picked me up from the dreadfully WiFi-ed McDonald’s and we went back to Powerline Pass. We weren’t there long, because of dinner reservations, but can we say worth it?

Worth it.

Then we rounded a bend, with minutes to spare, and Cassidy said, “Oh, hello!” There was our last bull moose of the trip!

That looks close, right? It was. I was balking a bit, and I went to warn two incoming runners about the moose so they’d change their course. They saw the look on my face and said, “Don’t worry! Anchorage moose are different from the ones outside the city. They have more tolerance for people coming close to them.” That does NOT mean I recommend getting close.

He looked at us curiously, but mostly minded his own business. I had the luxury of distance, although this is NOT my zoom lens. This is just a 50mm. My rented zoom was already packed in my suitcase, and ready to be checked at the airport.

I had to go black and white for at least one!

Oh my. Well that’s it for moose! We made it to our dinner reservation just on time, and guess what I ordered? That’s right. Salmon. We showed Erika and Steve all of Cassidy’s pictures and told our stories in chronological order. Then, the airport:

I took that same photo on our first day there – after landing at night – and I felt like I had grown so much in nine days. The things I had seen, and not seen. The things I had done, and not done. I felt like something inside me had been sleeping.

We boarded the plane and had someone sitting in between us, which seemed fitting. It was dark and I leaned my head on the cold window, thinking of everything I wish. I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I could break through a shutdown. I wish I could do it all over. I wish I could feel it all over. I wish I could feel.. in general.. when sometimes I can’t touch that raw part of myself. It’s frozen over. Our plane’s satellite radio kept playing one song, and these days, I can’t listen to the song much.

Whenever I take a deep, altering trip, there’s always one song that makes me think of it the most. It’s almost a treat to revisit it in small doses, and reopen the heart and sound waves – to let it all come back rushing towards and through me.

I’m back there now. I’m forever there, in the middle of dreams dying and coming alive. Ending and beginning. They all meet in the middle. I’ll never forget that silent and endless night in the sky – and the brightness I found on the other side.

It was always leading me here:

*Endnote – my mother-in-law took that picture, bringing our kids to meet us in the middle of a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA, after ten days apart. The photo is 100% candid – showing our sleeplessness, sweat, tears, and LOVE. Thank you for reading.