My boyfriend is from South Carolina, and I am from Austin, Texas. We both live in West Hollywood, California, but we make it a point to go see our families at least twice a year. Flying all that way that often would be hella expensive, so to save money, we usually drive the distance.
We prefer not to stop for the night. We trade off sleeping and driving, normally he can drive 6 or more hours straight before he needs a break, while I can normally manage about 4. So we take it in shifts, and if we are both too exhausted to drive, we aren’t opposed to stopping in a gas station parking lot and sleeping for a few hours.
We’ve done these trips a myriad of different routes, the most recent trip we went from LA > Denver > South Carolina > Austin > LA. We went through Denver because my BFF and cousin just moved there, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to stop in on our way to South Carolina for Coty’s daughters birthday. That map looked like this:
On this particular trip, several things happened. Somewhere in Utah, I my car got a flat tire. And come to find out, some mechanic in my cars past stripped the tire key (special nut in tire that apparently helps keep people from stealing your tire). So we couldn’t get the busted tire off, and we needed to be towed to a mechanic who could not only replace the tire, but get the crap tire off.
I’m not going to lie, I was having trouble not freaking out. We were in the middle of nowhere, and this was the first flat tire I’d had (with this car). And the fact that we couldn’t put on the spare ourselves, basically stranded us to the mercy of whatever people lived around there. It could have very easily been the start of a horror movie (in my freaking-out mind).
But the truth was, it wasn’t a big deal.
I called up my insurance, and they had someone out to me within an hour. We were worried about finding an available mechanic (It was a Sunday evening, so most auto mechanics shops were closed) and it seemed like we would be stuck finding a hotel for the night, and possibly even be paying for another tow.
Thank goodness the tow truck guy knew of a mechanic who was normally closed on Sunday, but happened to be there this day. So he brought us to him, and we were able to replace the tire and have all the stripped keys removed, so if anything like that happened again we wouldn’t be SOL (shit outta luck). Because he wasn’t supposed to be an open business that day, he would only accept cash for the help. Thank god I had just enough on me to cover the tire. All in all, it only set us back about 4 hours.
So we finally made it to my cousin’s place in Denver, where we were able to get a full night of sleep after the stressful day we had just had. We had originally planned to spend a full night with them: have dinner, sleep, wake up and have breakfast before heading on our way. But because of the tire setback, we were extra exhausted making it the last leg of the journey, and ended up falling asleep for a few hours in a gas station parking lot. We didn’t get to their place until at least 3am.
We probably didn’t spend a full 10 hours there, but the time we did spend there was just enough to re-energize our spirits for the next almost 24 hours of driving.
Many hours later, we start driving through Kansas, and we decide to stop for a stretch break at an abandoned roadside pitstop just to breath some fresh air, lay in the grass, and in Coty’s case, lift the weights we had in the trunk.
While we were stopped here, my MyRadar app started sending me all these alerts (not sponsored, but DEFINITELY RECOMMEND!), and holy sh*t there were two massive tornadoes headed right towards us. !
So we got in the car and decided it was now or never. We could either find a place to hide for a few hours until the storm and the hail passed, or we could put the pedal to the metal and try to beat the storm.
So we decided we could beat the storm. Which might have been a reckless decision, but we knew that if we were going to avoid the intense hail and wind that were headed directly towards our path, our window to get around it was closing fast. So we took our chances… and nothing bad happened to us.
We made it through, experiencing some heavy rain for about 10 minutes, but nothing worse than that. It was exciting! I wasn’t scared like I was with the flat tire, it was more of an adrenalin rush that propelled both of us down the highway.
I definitely have the MyRadar app to thank. If I hadn’t had that app, we wouldn’t have known it was coming, or the size of the situation. We would have just tried to drive through the rain, without realizing something bigger was on us. We would have been totally screwed.
After that, the rest of the drive was pretty smooth sailing. We made it to South Carolina, had a lovely stay for a few weeks, and drove back without any hiccups.
We had a nice short visit and sleep with my family in Austin, and then we stopped for a particularly good meal in El Paso before making it back to LA.
Maybe it’s because I’m a southern girl, but I experience much less fear when we are traveling in the American South. That was the first time I had driven that far North (I’ve flown North many times, but driving in the rural country is much different than landing in major city airports).
I don’t know if my unconscious nerves are what brought those traveling hiccups into fruition, but we had more scares driving in unknown territory (for me) than in known territory.
The truth of the matter is, I never had anything to worry about. I wasn’t afraid to lean on technology (or insurance) and in the end, it saved us from starring in a couple of horror movies.
Maintaining a good attitude while traveling is highly important. But sometimes, situations arise that you didn’t prepare yourself mentally for. That’s why planning and preparing before you leave is one of the best ways to protect yourself from stressful situations while traveling.
- Make sure you have decent car insurance that covers towing.
- Make sure you have a good phone plan that allows you to have a GPS and a radar app. Don’t be afraid to lean on technology, it could save your life.
- Make sure you travel with cash, don’t just rely on cards.