The group driving experience is one which forms a tight bond with a group of car buffs or can etch the day and its planners name permanently on the list of things to avoid. The keys to planning and organizing an event that people will not only enjoy, be safe in, and want to come back to next year have more to do with just the route and the destination. There is an all-encompassing package of items that need to be carefully orchestrated to create the perfect outing. The following is a list of the all time dos and don'ts.
1. Have a destination that is worth the drive.
If people are going to plan a trip for a days drive or longer, the place you going has to be the anchor for the event. People need to be excited about what awaits the journey and what they will experience while there. If it is a car show, be sure the event has a track record of good attendance and has been generally held to be a good time.
2. Have a plan of arrival.
Will there be a registration at a show or will there be a planned dinner together? Drivers will be amped up from the ride and tired as well. You will want the arrival to be easy and stress free with clear direction as to where to go or park. If you are stopping at a hotel or a restaurant, be sure they know you are coming and have arranged to have enough staff on hand. Most establishments will be happy to hear you are bringing them a group and usually will compensate when forewarned.
3. Keep the drive interesting.
Drives can be long. Plan your route to have points of interest along the way in which people can stop to take them in, read about them on an itinerary, or participate in an activity. Even mentions of things to see as people drive by can be fodder for conversations. Be sure to research any stops or landmarks on the route that can be incorporated into your event.
4. Encourage CB radios.
Radio communication among your group can make a trip! In my opinion they are an absolute must. From safety, logistics, updates, and laughter, CB radios are the lifeline of the caravan. For the planner, they enable you to keep the group informed of upcoming obstacle, exits, stops, and itinerary items. People get to know each other and chatter themselves silly. Its a blast! Hand held units that don't require wiring in your car are available. I found that using a cigarette lighter plug with a stationary unit in a backpack on the floor works well in combination with a magnetic mount antennae. You can use a thin film or cheesecloth to keep the base from your paint.
5. Plan your stops wisely.
Know how you are getting in and getting out. People get angry and irritated when traffic or stoplights split up the group. In our first MAA trip in 1994 the group go split into two on the very first morning by a train on the way out of our staging area. The second group now 30 minutes behind schedule never caught up until we met 350 miles later. Get locals to tell you where the best place to round up a pack of cars in town is. If you have many cars, you might contact the local police or highway patrol to handle traffic for you. I found that when you call the police and say"I have 50 cars coming to Exit 122 for lunch and leaving again in 60 minutes," they are happy to work with you in most cases. They can block intersections or give you and escort. Give them a few days notice and follow up that morning.
6. Keep the drive time and mileage reasonable.
People want to enjoy themselves. Dont plan your itinerary so tight and thin that people have to drive hammer down all day with few stops and a change to rest or catch up. Believe me, I have done it and learned my lessons. Try to keep the mileage under 350 for a days run and be sure to plan stops for gas, stretching legs, lunch, and allow time for light sightseeing. A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 hour for every three hours driving. You can usually plan a 1-hour lunch/gas stop with a couple 20-minute rest stops evenly spaced. You dont want to be road weary when you get to the fun show.