With a lack of movement and everyone stuck indoors now is the time to take a virtual journey.
Your starting point is a map, (you can’t use Sat-Nav yet). Choose a map of a place you’ve never been, either a country or a state. We recommend starting with a pencil at first but as you get more experience you can switch to a highlighter. A word of caution, you’re going to be ruining this map for other things, so pick one with that in mind. Don’t worry, that map shall not have died in vane—this is an excellent creative exercise.
First Choose the Scope and Mission of your Trip:
There are two potential goals for a virtual trip:
- This is a detailed plan/dry run for a trip on your bucket list (You will take this trip.)
- Since you can’t really go right now, you may as well travel somewhere you’ll never get to in real life.
Which you choose A, or B, will determine a few details later, but either way, we recommend making this trip as detailed and real as you possibly can. This is going to be fun.
There are Two Factors to any Trip:
- Are you focused on the destination/objective? (or)
- Are you more excited by the serendipitous things that might happen along the way?
|1 Destination||2 Adventure|
|A Practice||1A Practice Destination||2A Practice Adventure|
|B Fantasy||1B Fantasy Destination||2B Fantasy Adventure|
A good trip will have elements of both, but knowing which factors is your priority will make your planning easier. For the purpose of this trip lets assume that you are traveling the US (since there are so many good guidebooks to Europe that a virtual trip is limited in benefit).
How to Take your Virtual Road Trip:
You’ll be planning this trip step by step and collecting picture, sound, or video to support your journey experience. As you trace the map in pencil, figure out how far you are going each day and where you’ll stay on your over nights. What sites are available to see along the way? What’s worth a detour?
One great resource for this is google earth. You can zoom in and follow your map on the virtual map. Get down into the street level view and grab screen shots of the places you’ll stay and the attractions you’ll visit.
Build a play list for each leg of the journey. Dig into the web pages for each site you’ll visit. Look up the menu of local restaurants and pic out what items you’d like to eat when you’re there.
One last question to answer up front:
Is there something you haven’t done before? Is there some reason you haven’t visited a region? If so, and you intend to really do this trip, what’s you’re plan to overcome that obstacle?
Remember, Detail is King. Make this as Real as Possible!
Step 1: Who is going with you?
Regardless of whether your goal is a practice destination or a fantasy adventure you might be thinking anything from a romantic getaway to a reunion road trip. If your single and you’re wanting a romantic getaway, well, just pick someone you wish was going with you.
If you’re re-living a road trip with college buddies maybe build a Facebook group and plan it together. Have them dig up photos to post too. You can laugh about some of the adventures from the first trip and listen to the soundtrack of that time in your lives.
Step 2: What is your ideal vehicle to travel?
Remember it needs to have enough legroom, cargo space and so on. If you wish to take more than six are you renting a large van? Another option would be a Class A or Class B RV. You could split the cost between you and save on hotel costs.
Price it out and collect a picture of the potential vehicle.
Don’t forget to figure out the fuel economy of the rig, and the size of the gas tank. How many times a day will you need to stop for fuel?
Step 3: What’s the maximum length of each leg on your journey?
A journey needs a destination, but it also needs a number of stop off points. What do you want to do at these stop off points? If you’re travelling for over eight hours it is advisable to eat out somewhere.
Professional drivers are required to stop for a significant rest every 10 hours. That’s a good outside limit for a days journey, but we recommend that you’re really missing the point of a road trip if you go more than 7 hours in a day—and that’s not all in one shot.
Step 4: What to do at each stop.
Eating is a factor. You might pack some food so that you can eat without stopping, or to bring the coast down, or simply to keep from starving in the middle of nowhere when the car breaks down.
However, you will need to stop for bathroom breaks and you’re smart if you move your body a bit on these stops. You’ll also need to get gas. For efficiency it’s best to plan the bathroom breaks with the fuel stops BUT that may not always work out perfectly.
If you’re stopping off at a town or city what you want to see while there? It all comes down to how mobile you are and how long you give yourself to see different attractions. The stops can really zap your progress toward your end goal, or they can be the most memorable part of the whole journey. It depends a little on luck, a little on planning, and a lot on your perspective. This is a virtual trip so hope for the best and leave some wiggle room for life to go sideways.
Step 5: Speaking of Life Going Sideways
Is there a way through cities that avoids all the traffic? Are there back roads leading to the center of town? You might want to start each leg of your trip to avoid the rush hours. Nothing worse than spending vacation time, sitting in on the freeway. LA logjams are no more exotic than New York nightmares.
Is there a place with a view you want to see on the way? These tend to be marked on the map. Do you want to see mountains, lakes or do you want to see something else? Plan the route accordingly. This is a balancing act between driving the long beautiful route and driving the short, fast, boring route.
Step 6: Over Nights
Where are you going to stay in this virtual trip? A hotel? A hostel? A camp site? A chalet? Though you might travel in a camper van you can’t park it anywhere. This all needs to be planned and marked on your map.
Do you want to explore the city where you are staying? Take a look at its city limits or downtown region? You might like to seek out guides for the area or ask questions on forums, just so you have all the details?
One smart idea from European guidebooks is to stay at certain, strategic locations and day trip out to excursions. It can save a little time on checking in and out of hotels and let you plan around traffic more strategically.
There’s always a tendency, even in a virtual plan, to attempt to take on too much. Even if it’s only a fantasy game, try to limit a day to a stretch of coastline or thirty miles movement in a circuit. Keep things as simple as possible.
Think about the people you are travelling with. Look for activities that would please all the party. Not all the people you want to travel with will be with you in a lockdown, your ideal date for instance. What would keep them happy?
Step 7: Your Destination
When you plan your trips it’s not advisable to travel very far on the first day or the last day. You need to use that time to rest. Just be conscious of what you want to do when you get “there,” wherever “there” is? If you will need your wits about you, don’t plan to come in at midnight after a 10-hour straight drive.
Bonus Step 8: How can you make this a real-life adventure?
Could you afford the trip in real life? Maybe you can’t pull it off right after the pandemic lifts, but you could save up for it.
Decide if you could put ½ a percent of your income into an envelope in your sock drawer. If you can pull it off soon, Gas is under $3 a gallon right now and your emotional heart could use a break. Really, how far are you planning to go?
One last word of caution though, there’s always the need to have extra spending money, and money for emergencies, it will end up costing a bit more than the raw date you collect, but you won’t know until you work it out.
So, when are you doing this journey for real, then?