Roadtripping in the 21st century

I remember growing up that my parents struggled to have enough money to raise a family. I wouldn’t say we were poor, but I know that my mom told us that they saved for a few months to get a sofa, then another few months to afford a table.


Of course this affected our travel too. Visiting friends, living in their houses and going there by car was how we travelled. So roadtripping was certainly the way we travelled when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure it was the same for most of us.

I guess that has followed me into adulthood. The car is a fantastic way of travel. To see villages, landscapes and towns pass by is really the way to do it, if you ask me. Maybe it shows too – we drive more than 35,000 kilometers annually, but seldom use the car on weekdays. This Easter, my family travelled to Paris, passed the Champagne district, stayed a few days in Heidelberg in Germany, and went back to Sweden. 4,500 kilometers of driving and nine nights in five different locations. Four of these nights were visiting friends and staying in their houses. Some parts of the road trips I did as a kid certainly are the same.

But other things have definitely changed with the times, like how we find our way to the destination.

Interestingly, my first ever blog post on this particular blog was about how navigation has changed. The times when we bought a new map for our travel is over, and the transformation of the map industry is staggering. Very few new maps are released on paper today. And why should they, considering they’re all in our phones? The thing is, those that first disrupted the paper map market are now being disrupted themselves. Garmin recently announced they will stop developing navigation software for phones and navigators. Most people seem comfortable using the free services in Waze, Google and Apple maps for their navigation needs.

My first blog post also asked for more services to be integrated in the road trip experience. Like finding a parking spot, something that every city driver struggles with. But maybe that service might be obsolete before it can even become integrated? With the transformative power of the automotive industry, we are getting closer to autonomous vehicles every day.

But what would that mean for my future roadtrips? Well, first of all, maybe I won’t need to own a car. If an autonomous vehicle can pick me up and drive me wherever I want, maybe we won’t need to own one. Order a car with your phone, pack it full and type in “Paris, France”, and off you go! I would love to be able to see more of the landscape that I pass. No hands on the wheel, looking at something more interesting than asphalt.

The thing is: I love to have a car and I love to drive. But when I think about it – even if we drive 35,000 kilometers annually, our car is parked some 93 to 96 percent of the time! So, having a car standing still for that much time certainly is a big waste. I will probably need to get my joys of driving elsewhere in the future.


Lucky me then, having an old Saab from 1967. As much I love technology and know that the road trip of the future will be without maps, without navigation aids, and even without me owning the car I do that trip with, I will still be able to take a drive in that car. My Saab is even equipped with a navigation map book over the Nordic countries. It was printed in 1972, so it fits perfectly the roads I WANT to drive in that car. I can skip the modern highways, and enjoy a drive in a car without any modern technology and a comfortable cruising speed of 80 km/h.

I won’t drive it to France, but on the other hand, maybe the future road trip won’t involve driving. Just riding.

Like this post and want to know more about what the future holds in automotive? Check out the latest automotive industry trends and insights from Ericsson.

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