Seriously, go! It’s more than worth it.
For me, I’ve always been in love with traveling. However, at this time last year, traveling in my eyes meant getting on a plane and adventuring to lands far, far away. Looking back this was a very naive way to approach travel because there are plenty of places to explore right here in the U.S.
Road tripping has become increasingly popular over the last five years. After seeing countless photos on Instagram dedicated to living on the road, I fell in love with the freedom that they portrayed and after so many years of having a path to follow I wanted to get lost. So, my best friend and I made a promise. We would travel the U.S. by car for two months, we planned out the route, made sure we had most of what we needed, and we started driving.
At 21, freshly graduated from college, with no immediate job or place to be the real question I asked myself was, “Why SHOULDN’T I do this now?” I couldn’t come up with an answer that outweighed my reasons for going so I got in my car and started driving the 10,000 plus mile journey.
Now, there are many practical reasons why taking a road trip is a good thing. For one, it teaches you how to read a map, (or if you use a GPS, you at least will stare at a map more.) If you are a broke- just out of- college person, like I was then it forces you to learn how to be mindful of your budget, it even teaches you how to become a more confident driver, but, in the long run what really counts is that a road trip will teach you more about yourself and this world. You’ll learn lessons that you probably never would have figured out otherwise. Or if you did figure them out it probably would have happened years later – (after you had taken that crappy paying job right out of college to make ends meet). Basically, consider yourself ahead of the game.
So, why should you take a road trip? Here is my list:
1. Because it teaches you how to find your way
Life on the road made me realize exactly where I was going. Before I felt lost, confused, and overwhelmed with the world I was facing. Driving from one side of the country to the other gave me a literal sense of direction and a figurative one. I became more confident in starting my own path and traveling it.
2. Because being on the road gives you a sense of freedom
For the most part everything is up to you. Where you go, how long you stay, where you sleep…There isn’t anyone or anything forcing you to follow that road. It’s purely you and your sense of adventure that keeps you going.
3. Because you stop fearing the unknown so much
Life is seriously full of unknown things. It’s human nature to be afraid of that. Sure, you typically know where you are going and you have expectations, but that’s all they are… expectations. You won’t know what something will really be like until you are there in that moment. Depending on your budget you won’t know where you will end up sleeping that night, or what your next meal will be. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating and overcoming such a fear will make you stronger.
4. Because it teaches you how to appreciate the small things and live in the moment
How many times have you thought to yourself, “Only three more months until that awesome vacation.” or “150 days until graduation”? We tend to live our lives with countdowns measured using big or important events in our lives. On the road you live for the moments you create, the sunrises from the trunk of a car parked at the top of a mountain overlooking something amazing, the nights spent under the stars where a million wishes might come true and you realize how happiness can come even when you weren’t looking forward to anything. Life on the road will also place the value on things that once seemed insignificant. Say perhaps, a hot shower, or a shower at all. A nice home-cooked meal, a familiar place. Things that often go unnoticed jump out and the things you thought you couldn’t live without like, internet, social media, cell service, tv, a queen sized bed don’t seem to matter anymore, or maybe you don’t even notice they’re gone. Either way you find yourself becoming happier living a more simple life.
5. Because you fall more in love with yourself and this world
It’s a given that no matter where you end up you will be seeing beautiful places. You will realize just how big our world is, and how wonderful it can be. You will find a new love for your home, the place you came from. You will fall head over heels for many of the different places you see and immediately make plans to visit again soon, and you will realize that no matter where you are in this world any place can be seen as special, depending on how you are willing to look at it. Above everything, you will come back home with a greater love for yourself, the person you have become and the person you have the strength to be. It gives you a deep satisfaction that you can’t always get behind a desk, or even within the walls of a family. It comes from you and it makes your future feel bright.
We all need to hit that reset button at times. Road trips can be the best way to do this. I found that once I stopped living according to the pressures of the society around me that I became a happier, and more creative individual. I was able to see things in a new light, stop and appreciate the beauty of light changing on the walls of a slot canyon deep in the backcountry of Utah while listening to Led Zepplin’s “Going to California.” It gave me small moments that provided me with artistic clarity. It allowed me to stop following rules and create in a purely free sense. Be warned that once you do one trip on the road you won’t want to stop. I’ve been on six road trips in less than two years and I probably will never stop. My next destination is a road trip through Austria and Northern Italy at end of June so stay tuned. I encourage all of you to get out there and see what you can discover.