||This article possibly contains original research. (March 2008)|
A road trip is any journey taken on roads, regardless of stops en route. Typically, road trips are long distances traveled by automobile.
- 1 History
- 2 Road tripping today
- 3 The road enthusiast
- 4 Road trip technology
- 5 Road tripping around the world
- 6 Impact of automobile associations
- 7 Road trips in culture
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Pre-automobile road trips
Road trips were important throughout antiquity. Alexander's march into India was described by the historian Nearchus. During the Roman Republic, it was not uncommon for young patrician men to gather together to tour the Roman world.
The first road trip by automobile
The world's first recorded long distance road trip by automobile took place in Germany in August 1888 when Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, the inventor of the first patented motor car (the Benz Patent-Motorwagen), travelled from Mannheim to Pforzheim (a distance of 106 km (66 mi)) in the third experimental Benz motor car (which had a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour (16 km/h)) and back, with her two teenage sons Richard and Eugen, but without the consent and knowledge of her husband.
Her official reason was that she wanted to visit her mother but unofficially she intended to generate publicity for her husband's invention (which had only been used on short test drives before), which succeeded as the automobile took off greatly afterwards and the Benz's family business eventually evolved into the present day Mercedes-Benz company.
The first intercontinental road trip
There were forty entrants in the race, but only five teams ended up going ahead with shipping the cars to Peking. The race was held despite the race committee cancelling the race.
There were no rules in the race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race followed a telegraph route so that it was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly through the race.
It was held during a time when cars were fairly new and went through remote areas of Asia where people were not yet familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback.
The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians' car, a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) 35/45 hp model Itala.
The Peking to Paris race was followed up the next year by the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the longest distance motor race in history.
The first road trips in North America
The first successful North American transcontinental trip by automobile took place in 1903 and was piloted by H. Nelson Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker, accompanied by a dog named Bud. The trip was completed using a 1903 Winton Touring Car, dubbed “Vermont” by Jackson. The trip took a total of 63 days between San Francisco and New York, costing US$8,000. The total cost included items such as food, gasoline, lodging, tires, parts, other supplies, and the cost of the Winton.
The first woman to cross the American landscape by car was Alice Ramsey with three female passengers in 1909. Ramsey left from Hell's Gate in Manhattan, New York and traveled 59 days to San Francisco, California. Ramsey was followed in 1910 by Blanche Stuart Scott, who is often mistakenly cited as the first woman to make the cross-country journey by automobile East-to-West (but was a true pioneer in aviation).
Expansion of highways in the United States
New highways in the early 1900s helped propel automobile travel in the United States, primarily cross-country travel. Commissioned in 1926, and completely paved near the end of the 1930s, U.S. Route 66 is a living icon of early modern road tripping.
Motorists ventured cross-country for holiday as well as migrating to California and other locations. The modern American road trip began to take shape in the late 1930s and into the 1940s, ushering in an era of a nation on the move.
The 1950s saw rapid growth of ownership of automobiles by American families. The automobile, now a trusted mode of transportation, was being widely used for not only commuting, but leisure trips as well.
As a result of this new vacation-by-road style, many businesses began to cater to road-weary travelers. More reliable vehicles and services made long distance road trips easier for families, as the length of time required to cross the continent was reduced from months to days. Within one week, the average family can travel to destinations across North America.
The greatest change to the American road trip was the start, and subsequent expansion, of the Interstate Highway System. The higher speeds and controlled access nature of the Interstate allowed for greater distances to be traveled in less time and with improved safety as highways became divided.
Travelers from European countries, Australia, and elsewhere soon came to the US to take part in the American idea of a road trip. Canadians also engaged in road trips taking advantage of the large size of their nation and close proximity to destinations in the United States.
Road tripping today
Today, modern road tripping is a fast growing hobby, and not just a means of vacationing. Groups dedicated to the art of the road trip, known either as professional road trippers or road enthusiasts, are becoming prevalent online.
Road tripping, to some, has indeed become an art. Road enthusiasts frequently debate on proper gear, attire, and electronics.
Other frequent debates include type of road trip (a ‘moseying’ road trip vs. a set schedule), use of in-vehicle DVD players to pacify young passengers, and, to a lesser extent, destinations.
Professional road tripping has spawned other activities, including dashboarding (connecting to the Internet while working and/or living on the road), caravanning (multi-vehicle road trips), RV-ing, county collecting, welcome sign photography, and other facets of the road tripping hobby.
The road enthusiast
Those who look upon road trips not as a method of travel but rather a hobby frequently describe themselves as road enthusiasts, professional road trippers or roadgeeks. These motorists take the concept of road trips very seriously; some have devoted time and resources to the pursuit of the hobby. Although there are many personalities in the road tripping community, many road enthusiasts advocate sharing the roadways, preservation of historic places and natural spaces, and safe driving. Much like backpacking, many road enthusiasts also subscribe to the ideas of Leave No Trace.
The goal of road trip enthusiasts is to experience the culture, nature and history of the route, and to celebrate the open road. Road trippers often study roadology, the connection between of roads and culture. Some label themselves as Roads Scholar, a play on the term Rhodes Scholar.
Road trip technology
One topic of frequent discussion amongst professional road enthusiasts is the latest road tripping technology. This includes new technology, as well as some old familiars. Items of frequent discussion include mobile internet, cellular phones, laptops, GPS units, Digital Mapping Programs, real-time tracking smartphone apps, CB/Wireless Radios, and of course, vehicles. With the advent of larger vehicles, such as minivans and RV, more individuals are now able to participate in a road trip without adding additional vehicles.
Road tripping around the world
Road tripping, or motoring, is enjoyed all over the world. Although the history of road trips may be different in each country, the idea, concept, and methods remain relatively unchanged worldwide. For this reason, it can be fairly easy to conduct a road trip on foreign soils. Unlike some other methods of travel, cars allow travelers to customize their trip and set their own pace.
Impact of automobile associations
In many countries Automobile Associations play a major part in facilitating long distance road trips. Automobile Associations, such as AAA and CAA in North America, RAC in the United Kingdom, the ADAC in Germany, and the ANWB in the Netherlands among just a few, provide their members with services and materials to make road trips more enjoyable.
Many of these groups offer some sort of Roadside Assistance, coming to the aid stranded motorists, as well as travel materials, such as guide books, maps, destination guides, and even road trip gear.
Such associations allow a motorist to venture further from their home, and as long as they are in an area serviced by the association or an affiliate, can use the local association for booking lodging or entertainment tickets, roadside assistance, or get new travel guides and maps. This allows travelers to have a sense of comfort that they will have access to these services when they travel.
Road trips in culture
- "On the road to friendship". The Hindu. November 17, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- The First Road Trip
- Making of 'Carl & Bertha' (German TV-Film)
- GPS-Download Outbound Trip
- The Car is Born documentary
- Bertha Benz Memorial Route (official website)
- The Great Peking to Paris Expedition - Harper Collins - 2005 ISBN 0-7322-8253-5
- PBS: Horatio's Drive, America's First Road Trip
- Early Adventures with the Automobile
- Dashboarding at RTA
- Road to future or a dead end., Austin American Statesman, 12 December 2004 (accessed 20 January 2007)
- Theroux, Paul (September 2009). "Taking the Great American Roadtrip". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- Road Trip Movies Exemplify the American Dream, Theresa Knudsen, suite101.com
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