Reasons to Take a Road Trip
Let’s take a moment to stroll down memory lane. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, say “Road Trip” and let your mind wander and chase the memories these two words will evoke.
I guarantee all of you will have memories of a road trip(s) taken recently or in a distant past. The word “road trip” opens the floodgate of random imagery of long, smooth, psychedelic highways; bumpy, dusty back roads; narrow, winding mountain roads. Solo road trips, road trips with friends and family, memories just start cascading.
Travel appeals to me in all forms (all right, with one exception of cruises), and I’ve enjoyed planes, trains, buses, cars, bicycles, and the treads of my boots. Road trips are unique, like hiking or cycling, they offer freedom at a faster pace and still slow enough for reflection.
It is refreshingly liberating to break free from fixed schedules and plans and enjoy the true promise of adventure. I have road-tripped in Iceland, New Zealand, Morocco, Japan, Mongolia, Canada, Mexico, several European countries, and the USA (obviously!). Every road trip was memorable, full of surprises and adventures.
We have come a long way from the first cross-country road trip of Horatio Jackson. Our vast country has an admirable and excellent network of interstate and state highways, making road trips the best choice to explore its far-flung corners. Besides the safest way to travel in the current pandemic, there are many compelling reasons to take road trips regardless of the pandemic.
Road trips are practical
The first reason to take a road trip is obvious. Road trips are possible for all budgets. Road trips can be short ones or long ones. Road trips are way easier to plan than air travel. There are many places in the USA, which are possible to explore via road only and given the distances you will agree with me that a car is a far better choice than cycling or walking. Imagine being able to pack whatever you want along with your favorite food. Not to mention the comfortable window seat with ample leg space. How about taking your fur-friend with you? Maybe hitch along with those bikes as well?
Road trips set us free
This is the most compelling reason for road trips for me. Road trips have the sweet taste of freedom to take any detour, stop anywhere, and change the plan on a whim. Freedom of road trips adds a sense of adventure. How many times have you just pulled over to enjoy the gorgeous sunset? When the clouds burst with colors and you were soaked in the pure magic. I still remember the delicious taste of Whitebait patties while driving down the West Coast in New Zealand. We savored the authentic kiwi food listening to the friendly owner explain how our lunch was caught in the morning. In our first road trip to New Mexico, we took suggestions from the locals and changed our routes to experience remote parts of the state, it was a memorable experience.
Road trips slow us down
Road trips force us to slow down, and enjoy the journey rather than rushing towards our destination. Road trips show us how to find simple joy in the ordinary. If you are driving with little ones, they will make sure to slow you down. For some reason beyond my understanding, our son always had to “go” after five minutes of passing a rest area. Road trips rejuvenate our spirits by the calmness of slowing down. When have we not felt glad to leave our hurried lives back at homes once in a while?
On our several road trips, driving through the mountains of Colorado made mundane worries simply diffuse in its vastness giving more space to relax. Rolling clouds and the interplay of light on the mountainsides make us enjoy the present moment.
Road trips encourage spontaneity
Road trips mean some unexpected things along the way – road work detour, flat tire, speeding ticket, bad weather, bad stomach (worst one!). These bumps are not as bad as delayed flights, these are moments to bring in our creativity. These situations teach us to let go of our expectations and live in the moment and improvise.
“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts”, said Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. It truly resonates.
We will never forget our Iceland Road Trip because of unexpected events and our collective ingenuity. So many stories – bad storms forced us to halt our journey and spend a couple of days in a small village enjoying Icelandic music, and a missed turn took us to another village with quirky fairy gardens followed.
Our best-laid plans for the Four Corners road trip were mocked by weather, adding some fun twists to our overall experience.
Road trips reconnect us
A road trip gives us ample time to reflect and reconnect with ourselves, especially if it is a solo road trip. We have more time to pay attention to our fellow travelers whether friends or family. We laugh together at silly jokes, share interesting thoughts, and sing loudly. My fondest memories of all the road trips are those interactions with my family. Over the three-week road trip across Italy and France, we made some most cherished memories. Road trips reconnect us with the world around us. We pay attention to the changing color of the landscape and the people in it.
While driving in Morocco not only we stopped at every roadside orange stand to devour the bounty, we drank mint tea with locals and shared laughs.
A road trip is a much-needed interruption in our hectic, noise-filled, over-saturated lifestyles. A perfect solution to quiet down, relax, have fun, and make real connections. Take a road trip. Cover all the essential planning, don’t over plan it. Download a few useful apps, lots of music, podcasts, and maybe some books. Fill up the tank with gas, and go.
Happy and safe travels!