Slice of Life: What Kind of Road Tripper Are You? 25 of 31

Today's inspiration comes from Bitsy Parks: Little Bits of Starlight. I stopped by her page yesterday and read a few slices. She had written one about taking road trips that particularly caught my attention. In the post Bitsy confides: 

"We’re horrible at planning ahead.  We arrive at destinations and find out that one child has no shoes packed.  Or no shirts.  We don’t think twice about reserving hotel rooms while on the road when we know our timing.  We are often calling around a day or two ahead of leaving searching for dog boarding.  And it's not uncommon for us to switch up routes midway through the trip.  We aren't proud of this, in fact we're a little embarrassed by it." 

I tried to comment, but for some reason this particular post would not allow me so I decided to write this slice instead. I hope you don't mind, Bitsy --- and thanks for the inspiration. Also, stop by and read her post - as well as her other posts - as they're delightful.

It seems to me there are three kinds of travelers:

  1. The Mapper: This person is an intense planner. They know where they are going, precisely when they will get there, and have scheduled every event for their time in the place. They stay on the road and they get things done. Need reservations two years in advance? They're on it. Need special passes? They have them. These road trippers are extremely organized and efficient. Maps and materials in hand, they have the car packed and ready well in advance of departure with everything that will be needed.
  2. The Chiller: This person prefers low maintenance planned trips. They tend to return to the same places often as they know what to expect. They like to land in a spot and just enjoy some rest and relaxation. Is there a special place to visit while they're there? They might take you up on that, but for the most part they're prepared to land and enjoy. They make reservations well in advance, but do not need to do a lot of mapping as spots are often familiar. They do spend time making sure they have all the items they'll need. When it's time to go, they're ready.
  3. The Explorer: This person takes a bit to decide upon their dates. They loosely choose locations and timeframes. They don't need to schedule every minute to have a good time. As a matter-of-fact, they prefer to get to a space and discover places once they are there. This traveler usually leaves a few extra days open in their calendar as they may return early, but they may also stay somewhere longer than planned. This person is often packing at the last minute, throwing suitcases in their trunk in haste, and hoping they have everything they might need. 
Long ago, I learned to embrace the explorer tendencies of my family. Every year when friends would start to talk about the plan for their vacations, the conversation eventually would turn to us:

"Where are you planning to go?" friends would ask with interest.

"We are planning to drive to [destination]," we'd reply enthusiastically.

"What are you going to do while you are there? Do you plan to see [well known place], eat at [well known restaurant], go to [well known landmark]?" they would inquire remembering a trip or something they had read.

"We haven't really decided yet," we would respond repeatedly, "we aren't big planners." For years, I felt terrible about our lack of planning, but the truth is it works for us so I've learned to embrace it. We are, what I now like to call, explorers. (Life is how you frame it.) The world is full of possibility and we are slow to land on our decision of our destination. 

You might think explorers don't plan at all, but this is incorrect. Explorers plan...roughly. In our case, we like to pick a target destination and maybe a couple of things we want to do while we are there, but we never over-plan it. Most often we choose destinations that require a bit of travel and the trip there is as adventurous as the destination. We do have a few rough ideas about places we may stop along the way, but those often are quite flexible. It is not unusual for us to drive through a city that was a possible stop to get to another one we hadn't considered. It is also not unusual for us to stop along the way and stay in a place newly discovered.

We don't completely fly by the seat of our pants; we do have rough destinations and timeframes when head out. We do plan a general course to get there. However, we leave the luxury of discovery. Everything is loosely planned and we're ready for adventure. 

There are many perks for this kind of travel. First of all, we are never disappointed. We've learned that if something was planned (very rare) and doesn't work out, the thing we stumble into as a result is often better. Truthfully, some of our best experiences have been happy accidents. Not having a definite plan gives us time to talk to people in the area to really get the best advice on things to do in an area. Most importantly, we never feel like we have to stay somewhere we aren't enjoying if it isn't what we thought it would be. 

In a lot of ways, new technologies make success in explorer mode much more likely. No longer do we have to plan ahead to get AAA maps. No longer do we need travel books by our side. If we feel like being touristy, we check Trip Advisor. If we want a good restaurant, YELP to the rescue. If we want to check out a National Park, thank you National Park App. Information is at our fingertips. 

Now when people ask where we are going, I no longer hang my head in shame for our lack of planning. I tell them the general timeframe of our trip and our basic destination. When they begin to ask all the questions about what we are going to do, I just smile and confidently assert, "We aren't exactly sure what the trip will bring, but we are so excited about the adventure." 

It's March and I'm diving back into the March Slice of Life Challenge!  Buckle in!  This will be my 8th year joining the community (though I must confess to a two year break).  Yep, some of the writing will be messy.  Honestly, most of it will be messy.  Thanks for stopping by.  I'm excited to dive back into the madness.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting.  


  1. There's a lot to be said for leaving plans open enough for discovery! I think I have some mapper tendencies, but your post is really making think about being more appreciative of the explorer that is my husband!

    1. You make me laugh. Sounds like a good combination!

  2. As I was reading this I would describe my trips and not myself as a mapper, chiller, or explorer. I like all 3 of those kinds of trips/vacations but I do plan for them to fall into one of those categories. Thanks for sharing! BTW I NEED a chiller vacation.

    1. Ah-ha. You are the gifted traveler. I should have thought to include them. Flexible, adaptive, interested in any time away from the day-to-day. Kudos!

  3. This post is thought provoking for me. I like the concept of different traveler personality types. I'm definitely a planner/mapper/over-preparer- - and I wonder if it is in part because my childhood experiences taught me that traveling was an expensive luxury, something to plan carefully, and could even be dangerous if unprepared. Or maybe it's because I'm just a planner in life - as a teacher I plan, as a writer I plan, even my weekends are planned in detail.

  4. I think it depends on the kind of trip. If it is a nature/hiking/camping destination then we are all about exploring. If it is a city then we do a bit more planning since there is often timing issues. Either way we plan for chilling time. You have to always have time for chilling out on vacation.

  5. I'm a mix of chiller and explorer with one daughter that is the mapper. We rely on her so much for planning outings and meals, that we nicknamed her Yelp on one trip. (Was not happy LOL)

  6. Somehow I missed this one (love your idea of your slicing greatest hits--adding idea #32 to my list of slices I didn't get to!). I love your categories. I always thought I was a mapper, but I'm definitely an explorer. And Bitsy's description had me laughing because that is SO US as a road tripping family. Off to read her post now!

  7. I love how you describe the different personalities of travelers. I know you are going to be shocked to hear this but I’m a mapper who explores. :-) I’m overly prepared, car is neatly packed, we know where we are going and for how long but once we get there we kind of take it as it comes. We usually have a list of things we want to do and fit them in as our mood allows. If there are passes or bookings needed, we are always prepared for that. I’m not a chiller, our vacations are very busy.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Slice of Life: Savor Summer

Poetry Friday is Here: Candy Hearts