Is Your Gift Roadworthy?

Not all travel gifts are road-worthy. Guest writer Olivia Nicholas takes us on a cross-country roadtrip revealing the travel gifts she couldn’t live without and the ones that she left on the side of the road.

Packed up and ready to go. Photo by: Pete Prodoehl

AFTER GRADUATION, MY BEST FRIEND and I embarked on an epic journey. We’ve been friends since we were just eight years old, our families vacationed together, and now it was time for us to have an amazing adventure just the two of us. My parents insisted on throwing me a going away party and everyone gave me gifts they thought I might find useful or entertaining on my journey. Of course the best gift to receive while embarking on a trip is money. But there are so many other items that caught me off guard with their value on my journeys.

Our first real stop was Las Vegas. While we aren’t really into the club scene and aren’t big on gambling, we felt it necessary to visit Vegas as we had never been before. We stayed just two nights on the strip, hitting a couple of the legendary hot spots. Vegas isn’t a cheap town to hang out in, and the gift cards our friends gave us for their favorite west-coast restaurants [or a specific restaurant] were a big help. From there it was a short jaunt to the California coast, the real reason for our road trip.

Did I forget anything? Photo by: tomypelluz

The sunshine gave us a warm greeting and we were stoked to hit the waves as soon as possible. Surfing in California is more than just a sport, more than an art form; it is a lifestyle, a religion of sorts. We met up with a surfer friend from college and he showed us around, taking us first to La Jolla Cove. The beach was beautiful without many tourists and we caught some major waves. A friend of mine had filled a tote bag with a beach towel, Chap Stick, sunscreen, and flip flops.It was there that I realized that without it I would have forgotten at least one of those essential beach items.

After surfing our way up the coast, we did a wine tour in the Napa Valley and then proceeded up the coast. As we continued along, the canned goods in the trunk became quite the nuisance. For some reason a friend of mine thought that a box of canned goods would be beneficial. Unfortunately it just weighed my car down and was more of a hassle than a help, making it difficult to place everything neatly back there. Once we hit Sacramento, we parted with the box of goods. The volunteers at the food pantry were grateful, and we were happy to help out.

Once we arrived in Northern California and crossed into Southern Oregon, the weather was not quite so cooperative. Luckily most of our reasons for visiting Oregon were somewhat indoors. We visited Astoria, Tillamook, and VooDoo Doughnut on our trek north. During those stops we spent more money than anticipated and became very grateful for the plug-in cooler that had been gifted at my going away party. We had a Koolatron Voyagerthat we put lunchmeat, cheese, and condiments in. They stayed cool and lasted several days, saving us a ton of money on eating expenses.

Save money by eating in the car. Photo by fatseth

While my cousin had great intentions, I had no need for a bunch of books on travel. I was visiting the West Coast, not a foreign country. And having a smart phone with internet access at any given moment made them practically useless during my trip.

We made our way up Interstate-5 and headed to Seattle where another friend from college met up with us and showed us around. It became clear that, while my cousin had great intentions, I had no need for a bunch of books on travel. I was visiting the West Coast, not a foreign country. Having a smart phone with internet access at any given moment, and good friends showing us around, made them practically useless during my trip. We saw all the normal Seattle tourist attractions including the EMP (Experience Music Project), Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Underground Tour. We also visited the lesser-known Fremont Troll and our friend insisted we try Dick’s Drive-In before heading back home.

The great memories we have of the trip weren’t because of the gifts we’d received, but they did add to the overall adventure, for better or worse.

Olivia Nicholas is a writer and traveler. She is always happy to share her passion for life and experiences through her work, and in her spare time works as a freelance writer for Storkie.

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