Life is filled with trade offs.
On the first day of Econ 101, Dr. Schultz, my econ professor at good ole W.U., told us bleary-eyed, hung-over college students that the most basic tenet of economics is guns or butter. That is, a country can only buy more guns if it buys less butter and vice versa. Of course, that was before someone figured out that you can have all you want of both if you just borrow a few trillion from China.
Silly Dr. Schultz; 250 years of economic theory out the window..
The now obsolete guns or butter approach, though, still has some application in other areas, such as overland trips.
I typically travel by myself. This is true whether flying or driving. It's just me, myself and I. No spouse, significant other, child, friend, companion or hanger-on. Just me.
When I take a road trip -- like the one to South Florida that I just returned from -- that includes other folks, it drives home the whole trade-off law.
Here's where the give in this give and take rears its ugly head: With other people in the vehicle, I am no longer captain of my destiny. Sure, I may still be considered the "decider," because I control the car keys, but a Toyota Sienna load of adults has reasonable expectations that the captain will yield to requests to stop for biological imperatives and maybe even a meal during the course of a nearly 700-mile drive.
These are things I don't do when by myself. For me, it's the destination not the drive. My goal is to put as much landscape in my rearview mirror as rapidly as safely possible. I'm not going to stop to gaze in wonder at the world's largest rubber-band ball or Rock City. If I wanted to do that, that's where I would have been going in the first place. They would have been the destinations.
Historically, I need about 9 hours and 30 minutes to get from my back door in Greenville, SC to City Cellar in West Palm Beach, FL, where I usually celebrate my arrival with a little something at happy hour.
During that trip I will stop for fuel twice; that's it. More often than not, I don't even take advantage of the fuel stops to lighten my load. There's a men's room at City Cellar; I use that. I pull into a service station, fill up the tank, hop right back into the vehicle and get back on the road.
No matter which direction I am traveling, I'm on the road by 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. I like to get where I'm going with plenty of time to have some fun when I get there. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for early starts.
Some people also insist on eating lunch. Lunch? I carry a couple of protein bars to eat as I drive.
So I have a bit of trouble keeping my cool as the down time builds up on a multiperson road trip. "I have to pee." "I'm hungry." "My butt hurts; I need to stretch my legs." I have a stop watch constantly ticking in my head like, well, a clanging bell.
On the other side of the give-take coin: With other people along, you can probably find a volunteer to do some of the driving. I like that!
I was able to push some of the driving duties off on one of my fellow travelers on both ends of the FL trip. On the slog home, he took two shifts that amounted to about half the trip.
I napped, read a few chapters of the book I am currently plowing through and played solitaire on my netbook. When pressed to, I even conversed with others in the van. Life was good.
So, although accommodating all of the requests to stop added about 60 minutes to the drive, I got to indulge my slacker self and goof off for about five hours.
Not a bad trade off -- all things considered.