Things I Don’t Write About: Un-Classy Travels

This is what a Motel 6 ‘comforter’ looks like. In quotes because really, it wasn’t very comfortable.

As part of my ‘year of travel’, one of my goals was to become less uptight about travel planning.  And boy, was I successful.  I’ve booked entire trips mere days before leaving, spent more than a week in a new city with not even a single dining reservation (hey–for me, that’s huge), and most recently decided to change lodging locations at the actual last second.

It was the end of my Cape Cod trip–which was amazing.  A variety of events conspired that resulted in a complete lack of lodging for the night–at 6pm on a beautiful August day on Cape Cod.  There was simply no room at the inn–there was simply no room at any inn–so I decided to drive off-Cape and head home early.

Did I mention it was 6pm?  Did I mention I’d been touring all over the outer Cape that day and that I was hungry, tired, and full of salt and sand?  And did I mention that I’m not the greatest night driver?  Because I’m not.

Yet that’s exactly what I found myself doing later that night.  In an ill-advised and extremely out of the way attempt to avoid driving through the Bronx at 2:00 in the morning, I drove north towards Boston rather than south towards, well, my house.  The plan was to take the Mass Pike east to the New York State Thruway; I’d traveled this route many, many times in the past and I felt it was a good plan.  And it would have been, if not for one unanticipated addition to my evening.

I told you I take photos of all meals before I eat them. Even ones like these.

I was flying down the Mass Pike, trying to ignore the fact that the sun had most definitely set, when suddenly, out of nowhere, there they were–the bright orange construction barrels.  So many bright orange construction barrels.  If you don’t have any issues with night blindness–which I most certainly do–you can’t fully appreciate what an unwelcome sight this was.  My particular brand of nighttime driving paralysis is a bit murky, but it definitely has something to do with the stark difference between the dark of night and the brightness of, well, anything.  You know, like a glowing orange construction barrel.  Or fifteen hundred glowing orange construction barrels.

I went ahead and had a full-on panic attack.

And then I calmly pulled off at the next rest stop, casually picked up a free roadside lodging guide in the vestibule of said rest stop, and flipped through it while trying to calm my nerves.  It appeared that exit 8B had a lot to offer in the way of lodging, and it was only twelve miles–or roughly seventy five thousand construction barrels–away.

That night I did something I’d never done before; it may well be the least classy thing I’ve ever done.  I used a coupon.  From a roadside rest stop vestibule coupon book.  For a $52 room at a Motel 6.  Where I watched King of Queens whilst enjoying my dinner of vending machine peanut M&Ms (they were the only thing available with even a little bit of protein) and boxed wine from my trunk.

And I enjoyed that meal as much as I’ve enjoyed multi-course tasting menus at five star restaurants.  Ok–well maybe not as much.  But it wasn’t bad.

So for those of you who think my travel life is all sunshine and seashore, know that sometimes even the most experienced traveler will have a roadside rest stop panic attack and a handful of candy for dinner.

Have you had a similar experience?  If so, please share it in the comments section below–and let me know I’m not alone.  It will make me feel much better about myself!


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