Planning a trip is a necessary assignment for sure, but this old fashioned map and string stuff was really bugging me. With Google Maps, a GPS on the dashboard, and turn-by-turn directions on your smart phone, you hardly need a paper map and you sure don’t need any string! Modern times call for modern tools, but planning a trip is more than the use of tools alone. You need sensible guidelines and your own critical thinking to plan a safe and enjoyable trip. For my daughter, who was planning her first cross country trip, she needed to know basics like Interstate 235 is the circumferential highway that goes around a city and Interstate 35 is the highway that goes from city to city. She also needed to know that getting onto a state highway will take you through every stop light and past every fast food restaurant in town (my apologies to William Least Heat-Moon and his book Blue Highways). You also need to know that your paper map or your GPS might take you to the wrong end of town.
I learned how to travel by car when my only tools were a road atlas and the advice of friends. All of that has changed for me. Now I take trips today with Google and my GPS. But I have to wonder about the travel skills and experience I bring along with me from the road atlas era. Am I able to make good use of my electronic resources because of my “old school” experience? Is my daughter missing anything in the digital-age of travel? I’m not sure, but she will need a better map than the one in her driver’s education book.