It’s almost a battle cry when someone announces “ROAD TRIP!” Everyone wants to go and someone inevitably calls “SHOTGUN!” The mere mention of a road trip triggers visions of spectacular adventures in far away places. When you get together with friends, you all reminisce about the D/T ratings or the gadget caches, the geo-art, or the donuts you ate on the Donut Trail.
What doesn’t get mentioned are the mis-fires. The aggitations, the hard feelings, the expensive meals, the gas. Did you happen to notice that one friend who went on your first road trip now always has an excuse as to why they can’t go? Hmmm… what happened on that trip that spoiled it?
When going on a geocaching road trip there are some things to consider. I speak from experience. I have been on some good road trips and some not so good. I’ve been on some impromptu trips that weren’t very well planned and when all was said and done, there were some obvious things that should have been discussed before hitting the road.
Here are seven considerations before your next road trip.
Geocachers are a diverse group of people. You figure this out at the first event you attend. All ages, shapes, sizes, experience, and abilities are molded into geocachers. And each geocacher is made up of these different qualities. I’m sure that as you have attended different events or met other geocachers on the trail, you have gravitated to like minded individuals. And you have probably become good friends outside of geocaching. It is much like your school days when you made friends. You gravitate to those with similar interests and values.
With that said, I’m sure you have some geocaching friends that are great to talk to at events and maybe even fun to tag along with on a quick cache grab. But, could you spend 24, 48, or 72 hours in a car with them? Would you have the same goals on a road trip? What about those annoying habits? When choosing your roadies, it is very important to find companions who are on the same motivational level, have the same goal, move at the same speed.
Be up front and honest with new roadies. Maybe it is best to spend a long afternoon caching out a big park or a short power trail. This will give both of you a good idea if you will be compatible on a longer road trip. And be honest with each other and at the end of the day, compare notes about each others geocaching habits and how you feel about them.
At the end of the day, or trip, you want to know that you still have a friend.
2. The Goal
When I hit the road for a day of geocaching, I usually have a goal. I am either going to get all the caches in a certain park, grabbing all the caches in a series, or maybe all the caches I find help fill a grid or challenge. When hitting the road with your gang, it is best to determine what is your collective goal.
I have been to Indiana and Illinois for geo-art. I’ve been to Ohio for a geo-tour. Each time there has been a plan. To complete a goal you need to stay focused and on task. Slight deviations are okay but, as a couple of my roadies like to call them, “shinies” can derail your trip fast and keep you from achieving your goal. If the gang doesn’t agree with the shiny, give it up, especially if it is a Wal-Mart LPC just to add one more to the count.
Stay focused and remember: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
3. The Geo-Mobile
Comfort is important but reliability is monumental. Making sure your road trip geo-mobile is up for the task is a consideration not to be taken lightly. So, whose geo-mobile should you take? This is always a big question. Someone doesn’t want to take theirs because it might get dirty (might?!). Someone else won’t take theirs because the “Check Engine” light is on (whose isn’t?). Another may only have one vehicle and the spouse needs to use it.
I would suggest to rent a car. If you have a group of three or four people going on this road trip, the cost of renting a car for a couple days, split three or four ways, is really inexpensive. And better yet, you might be able to rent something that gets great gas mileage. And because a rental carries insurance, if you happen to use the car to access a 5-terrain cache, it should be covered.
Renting puts everyone’s mind at ease because they aren’t worried about repairs or whether or not their kids get to soccer practice.
One point was raised on a recent day trip. If you are driving down a backroad and you bust your suspension and need to get towed, who pays for that? The car owner? Not fair. All the more reason to rent a vehicle. Auto repair costs can throw a wrench into your friendships.
4. The Price of Gas
At an average of $3.00 a gallon for gas, a lonely road trip to pick up GC30 can be very expensive. Even a short day trip on a power trail can be pricey. Who wants to spend $40 of their own money just to sign 100 little pieces of paper?
Road tripping with your geo-homies is what helps with these expenses. A tank of petrol is easier to stomach when you can split it with a couple other number-crunchers.
5. Feed the Addiction
I’m talking about food. Fueling your body while road tripping is important. A geocacher cannot survive a road trip on chips and cookies alone. When you head out to conquer that geo-art or powertrail or grab all your Jasmer needs, make sure you have a plan for when you are stopping and where you are stopping for some good eats.
Remember that there are three or four (maybe more) people in this equation and like snowflakes, no two are the same. And that goes with eating habits, needs, and likes. Maybe you are a fast-food junkie but one of your crew is diabetic. What if you like a nice sit down meal of meat and potatoes but two others are more into the Subway scene? All of this is part of advance planning to make sure everyone’s road trip is epic. There will be compromises but make sure everyone comes to an agreement.
6. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Accommodations are another sticking point for a road trip. For me, this can definitely make or break a trip. On a two-day trip, I am definitely going to need to be motionless and close my eyes for at least six hours. If not, I at least need to be able to recline my seat and have some leg room so I can snooze between Modoc and the Beaver Cache. There is nothing in this life that is worth dying for because your driver falls asleep behind the wheel. And all passengers should be respectful of others trying to get some rest during the trip. Again, can you spend two or three days with a person if they are sticking feathers in your ear when you are trying to sleep?
When at all possible, find your hotels or AirBNB ahead of time to get some good pricing and then make sure you stick close to your schedule so you make your reservation.
And AGAIN, the cost of a hotel room is dirt cheap when you split it three or four ways.
7. All Things Being Equal
This is the tough one. Everyone wants to road trip. Everyone wants to go together. And everyone wants everyone else to go too. But let’s face reality. As mentioned earlier, geocachers come in all shapes, sizes, and tax brackets. Some of your favorite caching buddies are just making ends meet while others are buying trackable stickers for their car every two years.
This is why planning and honesty is so important when putting together your road trip roadies. The geocacher who drives a new Subaru doesn’t want to feel taken advantage of at the end of the trip. Nor does the single-parent want to feel like a freeloader when y’all stop at Logan’s and they pull out their bag lunch. It is very important to plan and be upfront with what is expected on the road trip.
Spontaneous road trips are fun for a pair of long time geo-buds but when you have three or more people in the mix, planning makes or breaks the trip for several of you.
The Bible says (my paraphrase) a man who builds a tower without first counting the cost is a fool. Geo-road trippers who go without a plan are going to be suffering when Monday rolls around and you don’t have gas money to get to work, or you’re stuck in the middle of Kansas with a failed transmission.
Gather the cost of the accommodations, plan your food stops, plan for a big cooler with munchies and beverages, plan for car rental and gas. And make sure you map your trip so you can get the correct cost and then split that cost equally with all the roadies.
Here is how it went on a couple successful road trips that I have taken. The planner mapped out the caches that we would grab (with input from everyone), figured the mileage of the trip and the mpg of the vehicle that was being used, made reservations at a hotel, and we all agreed on bag lunches or fast food for lunch and a casual dining experience in the evening. Total it all up and split it four ways. When we gathered to start the trip, we all put an agreed upon amount of cash in a jar and that is what we used to pay for the gas, the hotel, and food. When we arrived home, we divided up the remaining cash. The trip was great, the company was fun, and no one felt cheated or like a free-loader.
Road trip? Yes sir! Sign me up. I love a good road trip. Find your favorite three people, tell them to stay home, and find three like-minded geocachers and go find some geocaches!
Have fun and stay safe.
What tips would you add to this list? What mistakes have you made before embarking on a road trip? How did you fix them for next time?
Neil Moore (aka Kneel More) is a geocacher with a great sense of humor. He create geo-vlogs on YouTube, and can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you go on a geocaching road trip with some geo-buddies, tag Kneel More and @GeocacheTalk in your posts so we can share in your fun!
The Geocache Talk blog wants your geocaching-related stories and insights – and travel stories! Please contact me, Angie (aka @GeoJangie), to write a guest blog post or if you have any recommendations for subjects or authors. I can be reached via my email: JangieGoWest@gmail.com or through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
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