Here’s one of those “Middle of the Night” blog posts that you don’t anticipate writing, but when they come to you, you just have to do it.
I just completed a few vacation days on the road and decided to “over-share” and tell my Twitter followers where I was going and what I was doing (at least some of it).
Yes, I know, most people are like me and probably are wondering “why does it matter to me where George goes on his vacation?”
I absolutely love road trips and my hometown is generally a two-day road trip away from where I live now in West Alabama. (That’s unless I do the less desirable airline trip, which is even more of a hassle now with longer lines at the TSA security checkpoint)
I have never been a fan of air travel and do way too much of it for my job, mostly because it’s most economical way to spend Alabama taxpayers’ money (I teach at a public institution).
So, it was a great opportunity to do an experiment.
Now that it’s over, I’ve reflected a bit on what was most difficult, most delightful and insightful about this road trip. Since seven is the Biblical number of completion, I will share SEVEN LESSONS I learned from doing this:
- People Do Care What You Do On VacationI was pleasantly surprised how many people responded to my tweets. I figured if it were me, I would not bother to “like” a tweet about packing up and going somewhere or about a particularly memorable breakfast creation.
- Taking Pictures While Driving Is HARD WORK, especially without a chauffeurI like to send relevant photos with many of my tweets. That became a challenge if you’re driving SAFELY. Remember, SAFETY is the NUMBER-ONE goal. So, grabbing photos throughout the windshield when other cars are not behind or in front of you is very difficult. I especially wanted to mark milestones on the road trip. But, the “Welcome to XXXX” signs got to be boring after a while.
- Posting While Driving Makes The Trip Longer
So, the best photos and updates were gathered by stopping the car, getting out and taking the photos. But, that takes time, especially if you’re less familiar with the community you’re visiting. I found myself scheduling stops to edit a photo and send a tweet. That probably added an extra hour to the total travel time on the trip. At one Welcome Center, I actually went inside and looked around for newsworthy information to share in my tweet.
- Location Does Matter, Even Without the SoftwareThere’s a certain security risk in turning on geo-location devices. I don’t generally use them. However, I do suspect some tags are embedded in meta data of my photos. But, the location of your stops can influence what you write along the way.
- Transparency Can Be a Good Thing, Even For YOUThere’s actually a cathartic element to sharing some things about a trip while it’s happening. For instance, yesterday, I publicly disclosed that I have received a speeding ticket. Until I had moved to Alabama 14 years ago, I had never received a speeding ticket in more than 30 years. Then, ironically when I went back to my home state of Virginia — I got another speeding ticket on an interstate outside of my home region. It was an expensive lesson. But, perhaps sharing that memory was good for me. even more important for me to remember to SLOW DOWN
- There is Some Reporting InvolvedHey, my journalism skills are primarily what I rely on when I’m communicating publicly. Even this writing, is a journalistic exercise. My photos and insights are important in developing a narrative that I will share. But, collapsing a thought into 140 characters on the road requires looking for information to share and sometimes asking a question or two.
- You Appreciate Your Travel Experience Even MoreI promised to limit my lessons here to SEVEN. There are more. But, I will end with the MOST important one. Over the 1600 miles logged between West Alabama (where I started) and Northeast Alabama (where it ended), I realized how much more I would like to experience in these states on my next vacation. I appreciated the beautiful surroundings that are just a few hours’ drive both where I am from and where I live now. In the state of Alabama, we have so many small communities that get overlooked by events and activities in the BIG cities (i.e. Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa on a Football Game Day)
Thanks to this experience, I paid attention to places like Bridgeport, Ala, Stevenson, Ala., Hollywood, Ala., Woodville, Al, Gurley Ala. , Paint Rock, Ala. There are all communities along a stretch of U.S. Highway 72 that I had never taken before this trip. I now know where Madison County High School is and I have a real reason to visit Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Tweeting #MyWeekOff was a good thing for me. So, the next time I travel, don’t be surprised to hear about it.