Travels with Poppy

Kyle McIntosh

FOR OUR SUMMER vacation, my family traveled from California to South Carolina. My wife and daughter opted to fly, but my son and I saw it as an opportunity to take a cross-country road trip with our goldendoodle, Poppy. Here are three observations from our journey along Interstate 40:

  1. Summer 2021 may not be a good time to buy a car. We saw dozens of car dealerships as we traveled. In nearly every case, it seemed that more than 50% of the spaces that normally would have cars and trucks for sale were empty. With such low inventory, it’s easy to believe reports that dealers are charging more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. High prices and limited selection make it prudent—if possible—to delay your car purchase until supply levels normalize.
  2. Don’t get your hopes up for the free hotel breakfast. When we’re on the road, I look for efficient and effective ways to feed my 14-year-old son. We try to start the day with a free breakfast, which usually involves cereal and unlimited waffles. But on our way to South Carolina, two of the three hotels advertising free breakfast had reduced the meal to a grab-and-go bag filled with a granola bar and a fruit cup. Both hotels explained that they provided these bags because they hadn’t been able to fill the “breakfast attendant” position.
  3. Expect to wait longer than usual for a restaurant table. Once our family reunited on the East Coast, my wife and I got away to Asheville, North Carolina, for a few nights. Consistent with what my son and I experienced in hotels across the country, my wife and I saw the impact of labor shortages in the hospitality industry. Even though it’s peak travel season, many restaurants in the Asheville area are closed two days a week because they don’t have enough workers. With travel demand getting back to normal following a slow 2020 season, it was difficult to find good places to eat that weren’t crowded. We usually like to make impromptu arrangements once we’ve made it to our destination, but next time we’ll be sure to make dinner reservations.

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