I’ve been on the road this week. Hubby and I have been touring around the American Midwest, spending a couple of days in Indiana, then hopping over to Ohio. We leave tomorrow, to drive back home. It will be a 12 hour-or-so trip.

I really like road trips. More than flying, actually. Flying, as much as it gets you to your destination quickly, doesn’t hold the same adventure level for me. On the road, all sorts of things can happen. You get to stop places, meet people, even get horribly lost (which we’ve done a couple of times this trip). But in the end it just gives us more stories to tell.

There’s a lot to be said for getting the heck out of town sometimes. I’m not talking business travel here. Business travel still involves too much obligation. I’m talking about taking each hour as it comes, not committing yourself too heavily, and seeing where the road takes you. I’ve been away from home for 5 days now, and I’ve had a few realizations about the benefits of a change of scenery.

The world does not stop just because you don’t check your email for 10 hours.
Being from Canada and traveling in the States with a crappy cell phone package sucks. Roaming charges are ridiculously high, particularly for data. So, needless to say (or maybe just because I’m cheap) I wasn’t checking my email unless we were in Wifi range. Which usually was only at the hotels, and the odd bar or cafe. Sometimes I’d go 8 or 10 hours without checking. I was pretty concerned at first. What if there was some emergency? What if people were trying to reach me and couldn’t? Well, you know what? The world didn’t end. In fact, the number of emails I got that I actually had to deal with right away were minimal. Most of the emails I was able to either forward to the right person, file to deal with upon my return, or delete altogether. I’ve now turned off the feature on my iPhone that downloads my emails automatically. I am in control of when I check it. Lesson learned, and my time is officially more productive.

People who aren’t on Twitter are people too.
At the HorrorHound convention we attended there was lots of tweeting going on (hashtag #HHW). But I met several really interesting people who could care less about Twitter. With all the hype that Twitter’s been getting lately, I think we’re going to start to see a drop off of people who are using the tool. I’m talking the early adopter types mostly. The real geeks (like me). We’re ready for the next big thing anyway. Twitter is old news to us. Now we’re talking about how to extend these relationships into other realms. And a good place to start those conversations is with a bunch of people who aren’t using it. I’m looking at what they do, how they connect, commmunicate, collaborate. Life exists outside of this one tool. Perhaps we should learn to as well.

Meeting face to face outdoes online any day.
One of the reasons we came down this way was to see friends. Some of our friends we’d met before, but lots of others we’d only known via their podcasts, or blogs, or Twitter. I was really excited to meet up with our friends Jon and Nancy on the way down. Jon and I have been friends for almost a year, and he had a really great observation at lunch the day we met. He noted that when you finally meet your online friends face to face, the conversation just continues from the Web to in person. Then after you part, the conversation moves back to the Web. The same conversation just keeps going. Anyone who tries to tell you that online relationships aren’t “real life” or “real friendships” is sorely missing the point. However, the real icing on the cake comes when you do get to meet face to face, when you get to hug someone, shake their hand, and look them in the eyes. Then you know that what you’ve built in the virtual space is actually real.

If you haven’t been away from home just for fun for a while, you need to do it. Even if it’s just overnight or for a weekend. Grab someone you love, or head off by yourself – it doesn’t matter where you go, who you go with or even what you do. It will change your perspective. It will make you appreciate the things in your everyday life way more. I know I do.