Here at Dirt Rider, we’re no strangers to travel. Although there are always plenty of cool races and events taking place locally, we pride ourselves in printing a magazine full of stories that were collected outside of—not just within—the 909 area code. While this certainly elevates the quality of our features and adds an element of diversity to the book, it doesn’t exactly make for a painless workweek for those of us gathering the content.
Travel of any kind can get pretty grueling, whether it’s a long, problem-ridden road trip to a race or a crammed, 13-hour flight overseas to a faraway new model intro. Either way you look at it, the open road (or sky, or sea, or…) is full of surprises. However, I’ve developed a few simple ground rules that I’ve found make traveling much, much, much more enjoyable. Follow along as I give you six simple tips to surviving life on the road.
Tip #1: Keep yourself entertained. On the road, boredom is your #1 enemy (coincidentally, your #2 enemy is your bladder, but that’s a story for another blog). Anyways, if you can manage to keep yourself entertained, travel time will go by much faster and you will undoubtedly have a better trip. There are many ways to do this: find a good book to read, bring an iPod along or maybe just learn a little about the area that you are traveling to. My favorite solution? Find an everyday item in your vicinity, and use it for something other than its intended purpose. Nothing turns a dull day into a party like a Gran Prix of luggage carts at the airport or hotel lounge. Similarly, rental cars should not be driven like racecars, which makes it all the more better if you do. My personal favorite move is the old “lawn furniture in the swimming pool gag”, although the last time I tried this I ended up drawing my own blood and getting a grade-A ass-chewing from the Holiday Inn night manager. Never underestimate the value of keeping yourself entertained, but do so with caution!
Tip #2: Sleep whenever you can. Be it an unfamiliar bed, a noisy new environment or a rat the size of a possum trying to eat through your wall (it happens), you can never count on a good night’s sleep away from home. That’s why you should take every opportunity to catch a few winks, even if you only have ten minutes. A combat nap before a flight or a quick snooze at a rest area can do wonders for your attitude, but you have to be careful: you don’t want to miss a leg of your journey because you’re snoring away in some dark corner of the airport. Also, you have to remember not to fall asleep when you’re a) driving a car or b) riding in the backseat of a taxi. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter is really dangerous: if the driver-for-hire catches you snoozing, he’ll take you the long way around like Ewan McGregor, and it might cost just as much, too.
Tip #3: Watch what you eat. Face it: most food on the road sucks. Unless you can stomach chain restaurants for 20 meals straight, you’d better get used to packing some grub in your gearbag. But if you can’t take food with you (thank you, Travel Security Administration!), be sure to carefully inspect what you consume before it goes down the hatch. The attached photo is a shot of my Endurocross travel partner Tod “Big Rock” Sciacqua having an argument with the manager of a Los Angeles Airport coffee shop. You see, Tod’s morning muffin that day feature cinnamon, raisins and a huge shard of broken glass. GLASS! This ain’t your mom’s kitchen here, folks: if you’re on the road, keep an eye on what you eat.
Tip #4: Avoid anything strange. f it’s odd, foreign, weird, strange, awkward, bizarre, exotic or even the least bit unfamiliar, you’re better off just avoiding it altogether. For example, WHAT IN THE HECK IS THAT LITTLE SINK NEXT TO THE TOILET FOR?!?!
Tip #5: Choose your travel partners carefully. Solo travel has its place, but you’re in for a better time if you take some good friends with you. Be sure to pick your travel buddies carefully, though, because you don’t want to be stuck dragging around an obsessive worrier or brainless bovine who either has to check the flight time monitors every five minutes or can’t remember to take the steel crowbar out of their backpack before going through security. However, good, fun people can make an ordinary trip awesome. DR’s Jesse Ziegler is one of the most fun people I’ve ever traveled with: he uses the rental car e-brake everywhere he goes, watches the best old movies on the hotel room TV and doesn’t snore a bit. Yet Jesse’s nowhere near as entertaining as these two: Endurocross announcer Jerry Bernardo (left) and Source Interlink’s own Lance Bryson (right) are in a league of their own. Bernardo has been known to spend an entire day of flying doing his “special boy” impersonation, while I once heard Bryson tell an attractive security agent that he was “in need of a good frisking.” Like I said, good friends make a long day of travel fly by.
Tip #6: Take pictures. Until recently, I never traveled much with a camera on my person. But then I saw Ozzy Osbourne in an airport, and realized that I could never go anywhere again without a way to record the memories. Small digital cameras are a great way to get some funny snapshots of a trip, and there is no better way to bore dozens of friends, family and co-workers than with a slideshow of stupid images from your latest excursion. And if you’re really set on showing off your shots, you can utilize the extensive reach of the Internet and bore an endless amount of people by posting your very own travel blog!