28 Aug Trippin’ is Easy | Blair Christie
ShopHQ host Blair Christie recently went on his yearly-tradition family vacation, this year of course looked a bit different!
Each year my family joins in-laws, nephews and nieces at the beach in Southern NJ. We’ve been doing this for at least 15+ years. This year (and tell me if you have heard this before) is different. With my mother and father in-laws being immuno-compromised and others in the family still recovering from “the virus” or potentially recently exposed, we had to draw up a plan of attack. That plan included social distancing between our respective pods along with the appropriate masks, shields, wands, sanitizers, wipes etc as well as driving to our destination vs flying. Since my family is the furthest from NJ, there was a great deal of discussion about flying vs driving. 3 hours in a plane or 20 hours in a car (each way). Suffice it to say, I was on the losing side of that argument… so we drove.
A large part of organizing for such a long car trip is all about planning. If you know me, you know I always have a plan “b”. So rule #1 of long car trips…have a plan of attack, and a plan “b”.
There are some basics to the prep as well.
- Full tank of gas
- Recent check of oil, brakes and lights
- Properly inflated and checked tires…really important BTW! It can affect vehicle handling, mileage and safety! Check em on the way out and on the way back.
- Snacks and refreshments at the ready
- Electronics for all parties involved (laptops, smart phones, tablets, DVD players etc plus headphones or earbuds to accompany). Wow have things changed since I was a kid! All I ever had were a few comic books and the hump on the floor of the back seat as my travel companion (as I was between my two older sisters).
- Bring some binoculars and a camera. You never know when you will see something picturesque.
Had those covered, then discovered a few more bonus “must do” for the trip a few hours later.
Make sure you have a trash bag. My kids ended up scattering their refuse to the seat and floor of the back seat until I discovered their shenanigans. That meant yogurt lids, ketchup packs, milk cartons etc. being scattered about. Ugh.
Coffee/caffeine. It is kind of obvious, but you need to stay alert on the road. Keeping caffeinated (but not overly so) is important to me. Having a good travel mug is important to keep hot things hot, and cold things cold. Tepid is the sad emoji of car travel liquids. When you are tired. Take a break!
OK…so all that is fine and mostly common knowledge for veteran road warriors. But these days…are just not normal.
Roads are a bit more open than in the past, but roadside stops are a new level of concern. Most places we stopped had a variety of compliance (or non-compliance) to any forms of masks, hand sanitation or distancing. As always, we need to be prepared with plan A and B…maybe a few more letters.
Masks. Had at least 2 washable/reusable for everyone. I gave instructions to everyone on how to put on, handle and take off masks (that were summarily ignored pretty much right away by the kids). I kept all the clean masks in one zip lock, the used or the ones recently rubbed on the handrail in a public toilet (yes, my kid did that) in another one. We also had disposable ones at the ready when we maxed out uses in the washable ones.
Any snacks were handled and purchased by one adult, put in a bag (later to be redeployed as the trash receptacle) and “wanded” before washing/sanitizing and re-boarding the vehicle. I prefer to use travel bottles for water and avoid purchasing bottled water, so one parent needs to handle that task.
Road time is pretty chill, but as a dad and a cautious traveler, I noticed a few things and have these observations.
- For the love of all that is good and holy, the left lane is for passing. If you are not actively passing someone, move to the other lanes. I beg of you.
- If the weather allows, use cruise control. Don’t use it when it’s raining or snowing…but please use it on the open clear, dry roads. Playing do-si-do and having to pass you (then be passed by you a few minutes later) over and over on a long car ride can really get in your head.
- Road rage is real and no matter how good a driver you are, you will witness some really concerning behavior or potentially participate in it yourself. Nothing is worth endangering lives. Slight annoyances like the above can build to the boiling point, then mistakes can be made. Take a breath, slow down, don’t overreact and consider your options. Although I got to the boiling point a few times (again…see above), I managed to make it a fun game. How long will someone travel in the passing lane without actually passing anyone? How many times can this person pass me while I’m going the same speed? Each passenger takes a number. Winner gets to pick the lunch stop.
I’m lucky or bizarre enough that I love to drive long distances. I get to listen to podcasts, see a lot of new territory (took a side trip through the countryside near Toledo, OH for the fun of it), and visit exotic museums (like Hershey’s Chocolate World). Make time for side trips whenever possible. It keeps everyone sane, rested and less rage-y. Having a good co-pilot is important too! Make sure everyone gets to pick a stop or two. Trippin’ ain’t easy, but it can be fun!
✨ Who is Blair Christie?
This once shy “prairie boy” from North Dakota has traveled the world and worked with hundreds of celebrities since beginning his career in home shopping over 30 years ago. He is quick witted and perhaps a bit mischievous at times, but he takes his role seriously as a steadfast problem solver and loyal customer advocate.
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