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The Happy Go Lucky Guide To Problem- & Maniac-Free Travel

Photo Credit: R. Miller: Clown Hotel

In 1947, the first living critters to be launched into space were fruit flies—they were sent up with some corn so they’d not be hungry (I don’t know why this amuses me, but every time I read it I laugh; I’m laughing now … hold on … wait … okay I’m done).  106 miles up. The capsule was recovered and the fruit flies weren’t any worse for wear—their future families are now circling your fruit bowl to get away from Grandpa Fruit Fly and his space-travel stories they’ve heard fifty-galleven times.

A year later, they tried a monkey. They think poor Albert may have suffocated before he even left the ground. Dang.  39 miles—not officially space, since the Kármán line (where space begins) is 62 miles.

Albert II, who unfortunate for him had no idea what happened to the preceding Albert, soared in his V2 rocket to 83 miles. The other Alberts (III, IV, V) boarded their rockets and either they died on impact or during the flight. Well, stop naming them all Albert!

It is said that the monkeys were anesthetized for the flight. Hmmm. I wonder. Well, anyway, I’ve often wanted to be anesthetized when flying, haven’t you?

In 1959, monkeys Able and Miss Baker flew to 360 miles, tucked in aboard a Jupiter rocket. Their recovery capsule landed about 1700 miles off range of Cape Canaveral (haw!) but they were found and recovered and became celebrities, perhaps later as spokesmonkeys for various products and services, such as reverse mortgages, life alert, or long-term-care insurance.

Maybe we aren’t going to space, but perhaps you travel for your writing career—book signings, WU Unconferences, events—and/or for vacations, family.  Maybe you travel for ideas to use in your writing. I’ve traveled A Lot over the years; most all of the time I travel alone in my car as I’d rather travel two days in my car than fly a few hours in Hell.

With my traveling experience, I offer you my worldly common sense wisdom that you could easily find in a google search but here I am all the same:

Face it, even the cleanest and expensive of hotels is gross. The pillows and bed you lie upon have been wallered on and in by many many many many many people—perhaps even just hours before you check in. Bleh. Find a favorite hotel or chain of hotels and you’ll come to trust it, putting (mostly) out of your mind the icky thoughts; there will be some familiar comfort as you pull in, all road-weary. Do your research—you won’t regret the time spent knowing exactly where you’ll be when you are DONE driving and can’t EVEN remember why you decided to take this damned trip and vow never to travel ever again.

If you are traveling with a pet, check out hotel pet policy before you hit the road. More hotels accept pets now but all have restrictions, and most with a non-refundable fee that varies from $30 to $100. There are a few that have no pet fee but I had such a gawd-awful experience (which included but was not limited to a sliver of a hole where anyone could peep into my room and two dogs attacking my little sweet Bear) at one of those discount hotels that I would rather gladly pay more for my room and pay the pet fee at my favorite hotel(s).

Read reviews, and look for reviews that show pics that Real Humans have taken. There are always the 1-star “I HUH-AAAAAATED IT!” reviews and the 5-Star “I LUH-OOOOOOVED IT!” reviews, but I pay attention to those 3 and 4 starred reviews.

If staying only one night, I pack a smaller bag with whatever I’ll need. In that bag is of course some Clorox wipes for the remote and other surfaces—teehee. Some of you may remember my hotel post. Yeah.

I park under the big lights, close to the entrance. I never stay at a hotel that has those outside door entries. Most times I don’t take the stairs because a maniac may be hiding there! I don’t trust maniacs, and you should not either! I’m always aware of my surroundings when going to my room. Paranoid? Naw. I watch TV! I watch movies! I watch the news! Huhn.

Many State Line Welcome Centers have been renovated. They’re often clean, safe, full of maps and information, and are, well, so welcoming! There are places to walk about, and if Bear is with me, they have designated areas for pets. There’s usually coffee, and nice greeters (during business hours). Highly populated too so there’s safety in numbers in case a maniac is hangin’ around waiting for someone to “go through that door” while everyone shouts “don’t go through that door!”

Rest areas, however, are still a mixed bag, though many of those have been remodeled. Some do a great job of keeping the area and facilities clean and safe, but always best to listen to your gut over your bladder. I’ll never forget many years ago stopping at a rest area where the toilets were in these concrete areas without doors and when you walked by the weird concrete stalls, if you were over 5 foot tall, you could see over the top to the person sitting there with a stunned embarrassed expression. WTH? Just, no.

I used to limit my water intake so I’d not have to stop so often, but now I realize that stopping and stretching my legs, checking out some local scenery, is key. And keeping hydrated and stretched out will keep you awake and aware and feeling better. You never know what you’ll see that’ll imprint your mind for writing opportunities.

Don’t consume sugary snacks and drinks! Same goes for high “bad” carbohydrate foods, like a lot of fast foods. Eating sugary/high carb foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Higher protein snacks/food is the better choice. When it’s just you, there’s no one to switch off if you feel sleepy. Sleepy + Driving = OH SHIT!

I look for smaller towns to gas up where it’s easy to pull off and jump right back on the interstate, avoiding traffic and delay. If you are traveling in a new area, you can scope out cities before your trip. There’s all kinds of travel apps now that’ll guide you with food, gas, hotels, what to do in an area, if you like using those and trust them. My extensive research indicates that 99.98222244455555528282828% of towns are now maniac-free.

Don’t allow your gas gauge to dip down so low you are desperate to stop at the first exit you come to. Once I pulled off the interstate and drove through what I can only describe as cow, cow, cow, horse, goat, cow, cow, sheep, cow, barn, corn for fruit flies traveling in space, llama, cow, cow, waving farmer (I waved back, of course!), cow, dog running after cow, cow, *flashing red low fuel sign,* cow, horse—THERE IT IS! GAS! OMG! I’M SAVED! I lar’ned my lesson that day!

Have your car serviced before you go—checking tires, fluids, etc. I have a box with some emergency stuff in it, as well.

Though it feels freeing and daring to jump in your car shouting WHEEEEEE! Road Trip! Planning out your trip will save you frustration, and keep you safe from maniacs.

What’s your Travel Tips? Has your travels helped to enrich your writing? And, my curious mind wants to know: if it ever is possible, would you travel to space?

(P.S. The Clown Motel is a real place, in Tonopah, Nevada.)

About Kathryn Magendie [2]

TENDER GRACES, Magendie's first novel, was an Amazon Kindle Number 1 best-seller. As well as her novelist life, she’s a freelance editor, personal trainer, and former Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and photography have been published in print and online publications. Her novels are available in print and ebook. Along with her freelance editing, she's website editor for Edge of Arlington Saw & Tool. She lives in the Smoky Mountains in a little log house in the Cove at Killian Knob in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina with her wonky-toothed little dog named lil Bear. Sometimes there is vodka in the freezer. Critters love her. Some or all of this is likely true.