Slowpoke vs. Enjoy the Ride

“Slow down, take it easy, and enjoy the ride” is dumb and paradoxical. This statement is a sugar-coated way of suggesting that slothful driving–or strict adherence to artificially low speed limits–makes a trip more enjoyable. Strictly from a transportation perspective, nothing could be more wrong.

The bulk of vacation scenery is featureless cornfields, road kill skunks, and billboards. The faster one blazes through this, the more enjoyable a vacation is.

A small portion of driving scenery is scenic features like wide vistas, distant mountains, and approaching storms. Whether you are doing 55 MPH or 155 MPH doesn’t affect your enjoyment of these distant features. Yeah, so you may only have 15 minutes to enjoy a mountain view instead of 30, but who cares? After the first few seconds of the view, you have absorbed about all meaningful information you are going to get. Compared to “going there and doing it,” looking at something through the window is excruciatingly trivial. Summiting a 12,441 foot mountain peak is an amazing experience; looking at it through a car window is no better than staring at pictures on your computer. Slothful speeds only starve you of time for stops at meaningful destinations. More time to savor the dead skunks is better than time with grandma, right?

Some people think that fast speed has a direct correlation to a poorly planned vacation, and that by driving slowly the vacation will magically be more enjoyable. The truth is that again, by squeezing time out for meaningful activities, slow travel speeds worsen the quality of any vacation, well planned or not. A better approach is scheduling plenty of stops, be realistic with travel times, and, most importantly, stop cheating yourself and your family with short vacations!

The two easiest ways to maximize enjoyment is to minimize time in the car and maximize meaningful stops. In other words, drive as fast as you are comfortable, and stop often.

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