June 30, 2011

The Art of Solo Road Tripping

This week I had to travel to Albany for work. Given the option to fly or drive, I decided that it made more sense to drive since there is no direct flight from PWM to Albany, and with the ever-present potential for a delay or a cancellation with flying, travel time would probably turn out to be a wash between the two means of transportation. Nevertheless, I was not looking forward to the long drive by myself. I had never taken such a long road trip by myself (yes, it’s true), either to someplace I’ve been before or to a city I’ve never been to. In any new situation, my default reaction is to experience a bit of dread, in part because I fear that something will happen that is out of my control (case in point being the handgun debacle that happened last week). This time, though, I told myself that I wasn’t going to let myself feel any kind of dread, and that I was going to just embrace the situation, which was a perfect opportunity to practice what I've been preaching. (If you remember I’m working on enjoying this whole journey v. destination thing.)

While I initially felt a little overwhelmed at the prospect of driving all the way to Albany and back all by my lonesome, once I figured out my route, reserved a hotel room, and rented a vehicle with GPS, my worry was mostly alleviated, and I was actually kind of looking forward to the trip. Really! Though I genuinely love to travel, I am a “comforts of home” kind of person. It may sound corny, but music, books, certain foods, and rituals allow me to feel like I’m at home in my heart. The upside of traveling by myself – as opposed to a stranger – is that I was able to surround myself with these things.

Though the destination was reasonably far away I was only going to be gone for a day and a half.  I uploaded my iPod with some fresh playlists, downloaded an audiobook (Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, which was effing delicious – love him, love his writing), and made sure to pack some healthy snacks. As much as I love deliciously indulgent food, I hate deviating too far from my normally healthy eating routine when traveling, especially when it’s work travel. I packed light, but made sure to bring my sound machine (a key for hotel slumbers), a couple issues of Elle, and some flannel PJ bottoms. I also planned to watch The Bachelorette in the hotel. (Yes, I have horribly tacky TV taste, and I'm okay with that.)

It may not have been ironic that I stayed at the Homewood Suites, a chain I’ve never frequented before. The place was equipped with a separate living and sleeping space and, not that I needed it – a fridge, range, and dishwasher. Kind of sad that I had no one to enjoy it with, it nevertheless made the evening kind of delightful in that manufactured home-away-from-home kind of way. While the bed wound up being a tad too squishy for my firm-bed taste, it was a pretty decent set-up, especially for a three-star hotel. And very clean. As you know, Sarah likes her clean.

The longest, single span, covered bridge in the world, in Blenheim, New York.

Adirondack Chairs at Mine Kill State Park, New York

Thanks to some well-chosen tunes and my audiobook -- and probably most importantly, the GPS -- the drive to Albany and back to Maine went by as fast as any solo road trip could go. And while I’m learning the importance of being outside my comfort zone it’s becoming apparent to me that the only way to enjoy being out of the zone is to just take the reins and not allow myself any room for fear, reminding myself that the situation will be nothing but a positive opportunity. Making that conscious effort really works -- it’s amazing. So, while I’m happy to be back home, it feels like less of a relief than similar situations in the past because I allowed myself to feel only a limited amount of dread and fear in the first place.  As a result, it turned out to be a pretty fun experience, not to mention the fact that I saw the longest, single-span, covered bridge in the world in Blenheim, New York.  It's not every day that you see one of those!

Travel grub.


lila Check said...

it turned out to be a pretty fun experience hum?..fabulous reading too!
well done!!

Sarah said...

Yes, it was! New experiences are always fun. Thanks for reading. :)