Category Archives: road trips

World’s 6 Greatest Rowed Trips


Since before the Phoenicians, rowed trips have been one of the world’s great travel adventures. Rowed trips promise sea air and vigorous exercise, either while journeying solo or in the company of up to 50 or so like-minded individuals, all often moving to the beat of a locally-renowned drummer. What more could you ask for? Except maybe the occasional breather, and sip of water. Here are six rowed trip favorites.



                                                                                             BigStock Photo

Jason and the Argonauts’ Golden Fleece Rowed Trip

One of history’s first rowed trips, the 1300 B.C. voyage of the Argo was in pursuit of a ram’s fleece Jason had to capture in order to reclaim a usurped kingdom. It forms the basis for what may be Western literature’s oldest retelling of a hero’s quest.

Route: 1800 miles from Iolcos, in ancient Greece, to Colchis, a no longer existent kingdom on the Black Sea.

Vessel: 50-oared galley named the Argo.

Highlight: As often happens in this kind of tale, things didn’t work out all that well in the end, with a timber from the Argo falling on Jason and crushing him to death. On the other hand, he did get to marry a king’s daughter, and journey beyond the edge of the known world.

                                                                                                             Eaton Creative Photo

Leif Ericson’s American Rowed Trip

True, he sailed part of the way from Greenland. And the Indians lining the shore were in agreement that he did not actually discover the North American continent. But it is certain that Leif Ericson explored at least some of America hundreds of years before the first camper van was even dreamed of.

Route: About 2,000 miles round-trip from Greenland to “Vinland,” probably on what is now the Northern tip of Newfoundland.

The vessel: There’s no reliable record, but it was probably a dragon-headed Norse long ship that could maneuver under sail or with up to 50 oars, making it ideal for the New York Yacht Club’s annual cruise to Maine.

Highlight: Knowing that because he’d arrived 400 years ahead of Columbus he could almost certainly count on having a place to park anywhere along North America’s East Coast, even in summer.


river rowing boat
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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers Rowed Trip

A two-week rowed trip (elapsed time discrepancy noted) in 1839 that resulted in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, a collection of writings by Henry David Thoreau that generations of American readers have found even more difficult to get through than Walden.

Route: 126 miles from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord New Hampshire, and back.

Vessel: Fifteen-foot fisherman’s dory Thoreau and his brother built themselves, in a week. It was a remarkable achievement, considering that the book took ten years to complete.

Highlight: In the short term at least, the rowed trip, along a tranquil, slow-moving river, was a far greater success than the book — 706 of the first 1,000 copies published going unsold.


Samuelsen Harbo ocean rowing boat
                                                                                                              Public Domain Photo

First Modern Transatlantic Rowed Trip 

In 1896, clam diggers Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo were the first since Leif Ericson to undertake a rowed trip across the Atlantic. Without even the assistance of a drummer, they made it in 55 days.

Route: 3,740 miles from New York City to the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of England.

Vessel: 18-foot double-ended Sea Bright skiff

Highlight: They survived.



A Woman’s Three-Oceans Solo Rowed Trip

As time passes and more and more has been done before, it becomes harder, even in the annals of rowed trips, to make one’s mark with a singular achievement. That said, in 2011, Roz Savage became the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

Route: Canary Islands-West Indies-California-Papua New Guinea-Australia-Mauritus.

Vessel: 23-foot unsinkable rowboat with sleeping cabin.

Highlight: Savage was able to listen to 62 audio books.


Erde Eric ocean rowing

A Man’s Three-Oceans Solo Rowed Trip

In 2012, a Turkish-born American named Erden Eruc went Roz Savage one better by combining a rowed trip with a hiking and cycling journey to circle the world under his own power.

Route: 41,196 miles starting and finishing at Bodega Bay, California. Not a person to rush things, Eruc took just over five years.

Vessel: As are the craft of most modern ocean-going rowed trippers, his was lightweight, self-righting, and unsinkable. Getting perhaps less credit than it deserved, the 24-foot vessel had twice crossed an ocean even before he owned it.

Highlight: Not having to repair bicycle tires.


blue raft on river
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Plan Your Own Rowed Trip

No affiliation at all with them, but the adventure travel company Oars offers rowed trips on rivers and seas around the world. If anyone should ask, we find the Wine Tasting on the River Adventures especially suited to our skill and interest levels. editor in chief Bob Payne has himself been in many rows


Most expensive way to travel across America?

A study recently conducted by, a website that has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock, has concluded that the most expensive way to travel across America is on foot.

According to figures from BobCarriesOn, the average total expense for an economy-class cross-country flight, which takes six hours, is $451, or $.15 per mile, while a cross-country walker, taking 46 days, would spend a minimum of $6,440, or $2.15 per mile.

“What the study clearly shows,” says Bob Payne, chief analyst for, “is that for coast to coast travel across America only the wealthy can afford to walk.”

Figures used in the study are based on a per diem or daily allowance rate set by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to determine how much a person would be expected to spend when traveling. According to the GSA, a day away from home averages $89 for lodging and $51 for meals, or a total for the day of $140, although there is some variation to account for days in more expensive cities, or jail.

Another finding of the study, Payne said, is that if your goal is to travel across America coast to coast for the least money possible, taking the bus is your best alternative. Cost for the three-day journey is about $361 for the fare and other expenses, or $.12 per mile, although that does not count the likely possibility of being mugged on your way to or from the bus station, which will almost invariably be in the worst part of town.

“When traveling coast to coast across America, the only time you are more likely to be assaulted  than you are near a bus station is going through security at an airport,” Payne said.

What it costs to travel across America coast to coast

Bus* 3 days $361 $ .14/mile

Train ** 3 days $441 $ .17/mile

Bicycle 8 days $1,120 $ .44/mile

Auto *** 60 hrs $1,880 $ .73/mile

Afoot 46 days $6,440 $ 2.51/mile

*Assumes sleeping on bus, but with one eye open.

**Assumes sleeping on train, but not, unless things go unexpectedly well, in sleeping car.

***Includes GSA mileage allowance of .58/mile; legal speed limit, mostly.

Top six reasons to travel with the dead


If you hope to learn anything about the world, going solo is by far the best way to travel. But if you must travel with others, I recommend the dead. An incontrovertible fact is that when they travel the dead seldom:

Argue about the hour of departure.

Insist on a window seat

Pout if a restaurant is not of their choosing

Wear board shorts when visiting sacred shrines

Use a calculator app to split the check

Take selfies

Among the dead, writers are favorite traveling companions. Their words are already out there, allowing you to decide in advance if their sensibilities are compatible with your own. But their corporeal selves usually remain conveniently entombed, making them not overly concerned about such issues as who gets the room with the view.

For a ramble through France, for example, Robert Louis Stevenson makes an excellent traveling companion. His Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes, the story of a 12-day walk through southern France in 1878, is largely about the shortcomings of traveling in company. Although in his case the company is his donkey, Modestine, who, frustratingly for Stevenson, is in no more of a hurry to reach their destination than Odysseus had been to reach Ithaca.

The irony is that despite the abuse Stevenson heaps on Modestine for not being focused enough on their goal, Travels With a Donkey contains the declaration that almost more than any other has been used to define the essence of travel:

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

For journeys through the Arab World, there may be no better traveling companion than Freya Stark, although she usually went alone. A constant traveler and prolific writer, her words, even more than Stevenson’s, make you want to walk out the door:

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.”

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world.”

“I have no reason to go, except that I have never been, and knowledge is better than ignorance. What better reason could there be for travelling?”

To really understand Stark, though, the kind of traveler she was, the kind of journeys she would want to take you on, it is necessary only to read these few lines from The Valleys of the Assassins, published in 1936:

“. . . the country seemed to be thick with relatives of people he had killed, and this was a serious drawback to his usefulness as a guide. . .”

A guide to a far stranger land, and possibly someone you should not travel with alive or dead, would be Hunter S. Thompson, whose Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas might or might not serve as a traveling companion for a journey of your own. This one little scene should be enough to help you decide:

“There’s a big … machine in the sky, … some kind of electric snake … coming straight at us.”

“Shoot it,” said my attorney.

“Not yet,” I said. “I want to study its habits.”

If you should find yourself traveling with Thompson the most important thing to remember is:

Don’t post selfies.


Fewer children “accidentally” left beside highway this Labor Day

In a clear sign that the economy is on the upswing, AAA reports that fewer children have been “accidentally” left beside the highway during family auto trips this Labor Day weekend than for any other similar period since 2008.

AAA attributes the downturn to increased consumer confidence across all financial sectors, particularly in the area of savings for college tuition, and the fact that siblings are more likely to report the absence of a child from a car during a family auto trip than they are during tough economic times. Some observers, though,  argue that another factor is in play, too.

“Children have wised up considerably in recent years, so that few are still being taken in by the parental ruse of sending  their offspring to a highway rest stop snack bar with a dollar and a green light to buy whatever they want, and then ‘accidentally’ speeding away,” say Bob Payne, spokesman for the National Organization of Children Who Might Actually Be Better 0ff Without Parents.

Payne said that on a family auto trip most children are still more than willing to go to a highway rest stop snack bar on their own, but not without enough funds to cover a stay at the nearest hotel with a pool for at least through the first month of school.

In related news, another just-released AAA report has found that children who are forced to play the license plate game on family auto trips are 50 percent more likely than other children to move to Hawaii when they grow up.

In addition to his responsibilities as a spokesman for AAA, Bob Payne is the Editor in Chief of, the website that has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.