Traveling With Strangers

January 25, 2011 14 Comments »

Mongol Rally

When I tell people that I’m going to do the Mongol Rally this summer and I explain the whole premise of driving an ill-suited car 10,000 miles for charity where there are no roads – I normally get a reaction like this one from a former rally participant’s parent:

Parent – “So you have to pay money for a race where you get nothing if you win, the privilege of breaking down in the middle of a desert , the opportunity to raise funds for some impoverished Mongolian families, and the possibility that your car and you might never make it there?”

However the next question people normally ask is “Who are you going to do this with?” I tell them that I’ll be driving for 2 months with 3 other travel bloggers that I really don’t know.

Then it gets interesting…

Traveling with Strangers

People are probably most surprised that I have decided to do a 2 month long trip in a very, very small car filled with tons of potentially stressful situations with 3 people who I’ve never really met. Scratch that – I have met Dave and Deb for a whole total of 1 hour…if you can call that ‘meeting them’. It was in that short hour that we decided to do this crazy adventure. However, I’ve never ever met Rick and quite frankly I know very little about him.

Road Trip with Strangers

Dave, Deb, and I during our brief meeting at TBEX

But it doesn’t really matter…does it?

I feel that by traveling solo for the last 4 years around the world I have gained one very, very important thing…tolerance. I look at it and think “It’s only 2 months…I can deal with anything for 2 months.” Hopefully even the stressful situation of being crammed in a car in the middle of the dessert for 8 weeks…not showering for days and probably being really annoyed at my teammates at times.

Family Road Trips Prepared Me

I figure I had a lot of practice at this while I was growing up. I was the youngest in my family and my family loved to take road trips…long ones. Our family car was a little 2 door Honda Civic – did I mention that we were a family of 5? We used to pack our clothes in brown paper bags because they molded better into the little hatchback space – suitcases were too bulky.

I had to sit between my brother and sister in the small back seat as they tortured me in ways that only older siblings could for a 500 mile drive. I’m guessing I can handle Rick, Dave, and Deb…no problem.

However – I started thinking…can they handle ME? They don’t really know me either. Sure they may know a bit about me from my blog – but after 8 weeks they will know all my neurosis and habits. I’m hoping they don’t leave me at a gas station in Uzbekistan.

So, in the name of full disclosure – I’m getting it all out in the open now…all of my deep, dark, road trip secrets.

My Road Trip Secrets

  • I hate sitting in the front seat unless I’m driving because quite frankly – I get scared. I often find myself on edge watching out the front window when I’m not in control of the car. Basically – I’m not a great front seat passenger. If I am sitting in the front seat, you’ll probably see me reaching for my imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side a few times. Trust me, I’m better off in back.
  • If I’m really scared, I might yell at you…but in a nice Midwestern way.
  • If I go too long without food I get quiet first, transition to whiney, and then belligerent, which often involves cursing. I’m serious on this one…a snack supply is a must.
  • I like to play games in the car…driving games. Start a good game of auto bingo and I’m pretty darn happy. Just think – we can have things on our bingo card like camels, a broken down car, a bottle of vodka, an animal skull, a hitchhiker, industrial plants, a tumbleweed, or a babushka. BINGO! I really like this idea…I may actually make this and sell it to other teams!
  • I have a steel bladder – honed from my childhood years of my father never stopping the car on a road trip. Also – as a side note, I’m willing to pee anywhere…I’m not picky.
  • I don’t like to talk to people in the morning…unless it’s my coffee cup.
  • I’m a cautious driver…probably too cautious for this undertaking. I’ve been a passenger enough to know that in other countries you need to be aggressive…so this may be an issue!
  • If I have gas, I’ll crack a window.
  • I’m ok with being in cramped spaces for fairly long periods. (Don’t get any ideas though…I don’t want to be put in the trunk!)

Hopefully this won’t make my teammates want to dump me…after all, I’m supplying Auto Bingo cards!

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