Planning a Themed Road Trip

I’ve been meeting some well-traveled people lately, which has made me wonder how I want to approach my cross-country trip when I’m finally free set out. I could simply go where the spirit moves me, but when I’m on a road trip, where the spirit moves me is generally on down the road. I am destination oriented, and even though I always plan to make stops and take things easily, I drive straight through. One reason I seldom stop is road hypnosis. Another reason is that I worry what would happen if the car wouldn’t start on one of those back roads with no cell towers within range. But if it doesn’t matter where I am — because no matter where I am, there I will be — I might be more willing to stop every few miles or so. But without a set destination, I have a hunch I’d become subject to road hypnosis, and just keep on driving.


One possibility to prevent such mindless driving is to plan the trip. Reserve hotels and motels. Be prepared. But the point of an extended trip is to embrace irresponsibility. (At least to a certain extent. I don’t think I would enjoy being completely reckless.) I’ve always been the responsible one, and when my responsibilities end, I need to become free, spontaneous. Capricious, even.

Village Inn and Pub

Another possibility is to decide on a theme for the trip. Some people collect lighthouses, going from one to another, filling in their lighthouse passport books. For some reason, lighthouses have never been that important to me. On the other hand, I’ve fallen in love with piers, especially the long wooden pathways built over the ocean without restaurants, rides, and other amusement. So I could make a circuit around the county, hunting piers.

Ventura Pier at Sunset

Or Ferris wheels. Or any number of things: haunted houses, caves, waterfalls, oddities like the Winchester Mansion.

If everything else fails, I could simply hope that one day I would get tired of driving and find somewhere interesting to hang out for a while.

If you were to take an extended theme-based trip, what would you do, where would you go?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

14 Responses to “Planning a Themed Road Trip”

  1. guyportman Says:

    I would definitely go to America. Perhaps I would visit authors birth places or go to every MLS stadium to watch a game, I am not sure, any excuse would do I guess.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Goodness, I’m not really sure. That would depend on a number of factors. Most likely though I’d go on a trip visiting haunted locations for lockdowns. So if you go to the Winchester Mansion or anyplace like that, I beg you, take me along!

  3. 22pamela Says:

    Good question, Ms. Pat. I believe that because I love the beach so much and oysters…I will be in search of the best oyster restaurant, with the coldest beer and the best view of the ocean. Today. Tomorrow…I might consider something else.

  4. Kathy Says:

    A theme sounds like a fun idea! We’ve driven cross-country more than once – we were always moving with cats and had a destination in mind with each stop. Still, it was fun to be on the road, feeling somewhat carefree or at least untethered from the usual routine! I’m going back and blogging about it now. It all started when I began reading a blogger’s posts about living in an RV full-time. A co-worker and her husband were in a Harley club and they took a 4-points road trip, which meant they would drive to each corner of the country with other club members – another interesting adventure! Can’t wait to see what you do…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I have a friend who’s planning to live in an RV full time, and I had another friend who did so for a couple of years. It sounds like a wonderful experience, but I’m just as glad finances will keep me from such a life. Still, there are other ways of living on the road besides RV’s, especially if a person can afford motels at least part of the time.

      The most free I ever felt were the times my mate and I just chucked everything and took off without a thought as to where we would land. It was stressful trying to find someplace to live at the end of the trip, but leaving was so incredibly wonderful, as was the trip itself. I’m hoping I can regain some of that feeling.

      A four-points club sounds like fun.

  5. Holly Bonville Says:

    My trip will be more of a quest to find either someone or some place that feels like home. I feel like I have been homeless since Jake has been gone, and I am hoping to find place that I feel welcome. If that is on wheels, so be it. If not, I will have seen at least some of this country before I hang up my traveling hat. Granted, I have had a roof over my head, but nothing feels like home any more. I am also destination oriented, so this is going to be a challenge.

  6. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    I like traveling, but I’d want it to be a time of rest and relaxation. Reserving hotels days ahead of time adds the stress of covering a certain number of miles each day. Grabbing a room when the day has progressed to that point may leave one in a predicament. That happened once in a terrible electrical storm. We happened to have entered a town that had an event going on. It was a weirdly uncommon event, but all the hotels within a 100-mile radius were booked! It was prematurely dark from the storm, and strong rain and lightning raged. We drove. We could have stopped in a restaurant, but we were very tired. We had to stop on the side of the road more than once from visibility problems. Still, I prefer to take my chances and grab a hotel when ready to stop driving. It mostly works.

    I would like to see my family. It’s been a while, and I miss them. Otherwise, my husband and I like to travel to a common destination, where we meet friends, party, and enjoy the scenery and restaurants, and happy hour together. Blessings to you, Pat…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I got caught in tornado weather once — it set down a few miles away. And once I got caught in a blinding rain, which was interesting. When we finally found a motel, they met us with towels. I still have good memories of that.

  7. leesis Says:

    before I had my son I traveled a lot…around Australia, twice to the States, to New Zealand, Bali. Next year my son shall launch upon his ‘no mum’ life and again I consider travelling. For me it is all about the wonder of who I would meet. Who are they, what is their story. Will we be friends, will we hate each other..either way my life will be better for it. And all along this gorgeous earth will fill me with pleasure. What a gift. Plan or not plan your trip Pat…it doesn’t matter for life is just waiting for you to turn up I reckon.
    with Love 🙂

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