Travel these days is all about convenience, as it should be. There’s a plethora of information and websites designed to help you get to where you need to go, in the most economical and expedient way possible. I love it, don’t get me wrong. I’m constantly checking Kayak and Expedia for air fare and hotel deals in the domestic cities on my bucket list. But I think an important part of traveling is taking time to soak in and enjoy the experience of getting there. The best way to do that thus far, for me, is taking a road trip.
I love road trips. Most of the traveling I have done has been in a vehicle, and I’ll be honest – not all of those trips have always been fun (I have a tendency to fidget when I sit for long periods of time). Some trips felt like they were never going to end. Other ones (those ones piloted mostly by my father) did not allow for enough bathroom breaks. But there’s a certain beauty and freedom that you have in traveling by car that you don’t get in an airplane. You don’t have to deal with security check points or worrying about whether or not any of your toiletries are going to get confiscated. You don’t have to pay extra if you want to bring more bags, or worry about carry-ons. You don’t have to pay eight dollars for a cup of juice that you don’t get to refill, and you don’t have to worry about sharing an armrest with sweaty strangers. It’s just you, in your car, with the radio on and the windows rolled down, going whichever direction you like. Sometimes I like to hit the road when I’m bored; other times it’s the best solution to Life just getting a little too…real. It may seem spontaneous and foolish to some, but to me it’s a way of reclaiming a piece of yourself that you sometimes feel like you lose in the course of everyday life.
Last year, there was one time when I hit the road late one night after too many things seemed to be going wrong, and I just had to get out. I couldn’t explain it to anyone; my family and friends thought I was nuts and over-reacting to the snowball of stress I was crumbling under. But I had to do it. The moment I left the city limits, I felt some of the weight that had been sitting on me. It was just me and the hounds in my backseat. I didn’t have a plan for an exact destination, and I didn’t care. I just wanted to go and see where I ended up.
These days I prefer taking my car when I can so I can bring my dogs along. It’s also much easier when you’re making short trips, like a weekend at the beach or in the mountains. We make plenty of stops for them to go to the bathroom, and I get plenty of opportunities to stretch my legs. It may increase travel time, but I’m a big believer in a trip not just being about the destination but also the journey. I also find more frequent stops cuts down on how restless I get during the drive. One thing I don’t like to do is play Russian roulette when it comes to lodging – I have done that once before with my parents and it’s an experience I’d rather not relive.
Hit the road next time you want to get out of town. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy or hit any popular tourist spot. Just get in your car and go. You’ll never feel more liberated, or more in control of your destiny. I’m hoping to get back out on the road soon. When I do, I will let you know. 🙂
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