Do you look upon your trips as memories in the
Last year, we dared to drive an all-terrain
vehicle up and down Oregon sand dunes, looked into
the Grand Canyon from a helicopter, and were
drenched while floating down the Rogue River on a
raft. Before heading West, we had parasailed and then
the following day we flew in an ultralight plane over
the Florida Keys. Yet none of these adventures were
planned before we left home. We could not have
planned many of these memories, but we did plan for
"the unexpected."

Great memories reward travelers who look at
planning a trip as an art that surpasses science. Like
great candid photographs, the finest memories often
come as a result of careful planning coupled with the
desire to take advantage of any lucky opportunities
that present themselves.

Twenty years ago, we practiced the science of
planning a trip. That was when we toured with our
children and our travels were limited by corporate
vacation schedules. Each day was carefully outlined
in advance, and reservations were made at
campgrounds along the route. Sometimes we drove in
the rain to stay on schedule. We occasionally skipped
something that might interest a family member, but
we tried to see the highlights. After all, you cannot
see everything. Yet, several times the sun was setting
as we arrived at a campground, because the day's trip
took longer than expected. Often this was because we
took time to "smell the roses," which is the type of
touring we most enjoy. These trips were fun and are
fondly remembered by the family.
The Art of Planning
    Your Most Memorable Trip                by John Watson    F155488  
                                                                    This article appeared in Family Motor Coaching, January 2001
Now our RV trips have moved away from tight
scheduling that resembles an architect's rigid
rendering of a building to that of an artist's rich,
free-flowing interpretation. What makes the
difference? In talking with fellow RVers, it appears
that those who consider travel plans an art make the
plan work for them - they are not slave to their
schedules. They take time to absorb the features of
the area. More importantly, their pace is flexible so
they can reflect on their travels as they go along. In
contrast, some motorhomers measure their travels
merely by the number of miles they cover in a day.

Travelers are rewarded when they advance from the
science of, to the art of planning a trip by taking
advantage of opportunities as they pop up. Surprises
are always in the wings. They take time to meet
interesting people; they do things that cannot be
planned; and they go to places off the main road.

Special memories come from taking time to do things
that "locals" enjoy -- berry picking along the roadside,
tossing a crab net into the Pacific, stopping at a
village cafe for lunch. Because we are city folk, we
once drove off the main highway to get a close-up
view (and smell) of a cattle feedlot. Many small
towns along two-lane routes resemble movie sets,
with a county courthouse, dirt roads, and friendly
people who will take a moment to chat. In Reedsport,
Oregon, we stopped to donate a pint of blood to the
Red Cross and learned about a nearby observation
point to view elk. We saw 74 elk at one time that
afternoon. These sorts of stops cannot be planned in
advance but certainly add to one's memories of a trip.
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Travel Letters