Road trips

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I’m a big fan of road trips. I like the freedom to roam around, in the comfort of a car. Specially if the car is big enough to carry the essentials that it becomes a mobile home for the duration of the journey. I drive around an oversized car, with a diesel engine. Not a 4×4 or an SUV, but practical enough to carry everyone and drive in unpaved tracks in the country.

Ever since i’ve owned cars (i’ve owned 5 already — the first 2 were lent to me by my uncles), i always look forward to long drives. I have come to realize, that I like the thrill of driving in addition to going to places. It is the same as i like the adventure of a long run, in addition to arriving at the destination.

Whenever, we as a family have time together, i try to schedule a road trip. I observed that my kids have also grown to love it. We have gone to most of the nearby places in the Visayas, except the eastern side (Leyte, Samar).

It’s true, there are many more places to go outside Visayas, but those itineraries require a bigger commitment. Not just money, but also time. There are also more variables to consider, specially if we have to ride 1 or 2 RORO boats.

RORO crossing has been the bane of our road trips. Often, it’s difficult to know the schedule of the boat trips. And sometimes, trip schedules are cancelled for variety of reasons, which makes it difficult to plan ahead.

In every road trip, i always set a buffer, in case we need to stay 1 or 2 days extra, waiting for the next boat schedule. These contingencies have a big impact, if we are on a set budget of time and money. There’s also the hassle of rebooking or potentially losing money on hotel reservations if the boat schedule changes.

It’s a small issue that is a pain to deal with. But not enough to deter me from going on a trip. I just consider it as part of the adventure that we experience.

I like the idea of stopping by for food and experience the local scene. Often, it’s not much different from home, but the subtle differences makes for a worthwhile endeavor. If we were traveling by public transportation, stopping by in places is a bit of a hassle, and sometimes impossible.

Outside the main cities, buses have specific schedules, and are often the only mode of transport for the locals. That during peak hours, it’s a bit hard to get a ride, restricting our options to move around. If we have our own car, then it’s so much easier to manage our time, and have the flexibility to experience the places in our own pace.

I prefer to scout first the destinations as a backpacker, since it offers the most agility. Bringing a car has it’s logistical requirements, and i’m worried, that if i had not scouted ahead, i might be bringing a car to a place where i can’t properly support it. After i have a good idea of the place, then it’s much easier to plan for a road trip. It’s also much easier to do a trip with the kids, since i can anticipate the situations when they get bored, or become annoying.

It’s improving though. I noticed, now that they went on many road trips, they have an idea what to expect if waiting for a boat, or having to sit in a car for many hours in a long drive.

It helps that i bring with me all kinds of modern gadgetry, that resembles a mini ISP on an automobile. It’s very rare to find places in the country without a data signal, so every where we go, we can always be connected.

Yes, often, Internet is very slow, specially in congested cities, but it’s useful enough to use for e-mails and social media. If we are on a trip, i often go over the data cap of our mobile plans. Good thing, there are ways to top-up and pay for extra data use.

Virtual entertainment is not a problem in a road trip. It’s a sad state of things, but that’s the reality at the moment, since i don’t want to force the kids to appreciate traveling when they are not yet ready to do so. In time, they will grow to love it, and then they can take their own initiative to experience it themselves.

What i believe they look forward the most is eating out, exploring the sites, experiencing the hotels and the amenities in the resorts. Though i observed they are already starting to notice the in-between of traveling, and the smaller details in a new locale. A good sign, which i hope will grow within and develop an organic interest of exploring the world out there.

Most long drive starts early in the morning. Like very early around 4am. I prefer to drive when there’s not a lot of traffic. Most of the roads here are one lane in each direction, even if they are designated highways. And since nowadays, there are more cars in the road, highways have become congested.

In the early morning, travel time can be 1 to 2 hours faster, than if traveling at mid-day. There’s also the benefit of cooler air, which is better for combusting fuel and also less strain in the eye. It helps that i regularly wake up at 4am in the morning, so there’s no need to adjust for a road trip.

I try to break down a long drive into multiple segments of 2 to 3 hours each. This allows everyone to have a break from the jarring experience of constantly in motion, and also to stretch our bodies from the confined sitting position.

Although road trips is not my preferred mode of travel, i find no reason to stop doing it for the future. There are still a lot of places that we can go with a car, though these places might require a longer time commitment.

One place that i have thought of traveling by car is the Davao-Bukidnon-CDO-Camguin-Iligan circuit. This might require multiple trips, since traveling between these places takes hours of driving.

Another destination is the Cordillera-Ilocos region. Though to even get there is already a trip in itself; that before going there, it might be better to plan a trip in the Bicol region first.

And of course, the low-hanging fruit of Leyte-Biliran-Samar area. It’s only one RORO hop, so should not be a problem to plan. But i can’t find a good reason yet to visit these places, apart from it’s on my list of i haven’t been to. I have been to Tacloban, one time before it was devastated by the Typhoon, but other than that, no other travel experience.

It’s a new year, so it’s a good time to reflect on this, and also to look ahead what kind of trips to do this year. Definitely, Biliran is in my sights. So is a backpacking trip to Bicol region.

It’s been a while since we traveled to a new country, so this might be something to plan for this year. One thing about new countries though, is that cost is higher. So it needs more preparation and planning.

Road trips will always be a thing to do, even to places we regularly visit. The lure of exploring new places and the freedom to roam in comfort is always an easy to decision.