Everyone remembers going on a road trip once in their life, whether with friends or family. They all start out the same; no one wants to sit in the middle of the back seat, the car is overflowing with luggage, and there are always a few elbows to the ribs. Eventually, everyone gets settled in as comfortably as space will allow, and soon the interstate is flying by in a black blur. Time is passed with hands pulling an imaginary cable up and down, trying to get 18-wheelers to honk their horns. It is spent looking for cars with different license plates and keeping track of how many states they come across. Finding Alaska is always exciting; and Hawaii, how did they drive here?
The beauty of a road trip is the thrill of an adventure. The miles covered on the road are where the stories are born and what people reminisce about. They remember the laughter, singing songs at the top of their lungs, and uncovering the hidden gems nestled quietly behind mile markers. The trip is the destination, before the destination.
Road trips might lose to flying, but with the rising airfare prices, the open road can start to look much better to those wanting to escape. The road is prepared to deliver the same luxuries as the air.
On the coast, the road might lead you to one of many lighthouses, like Cape Hatteras. Taking time to step foot into a building that watched over ships at sea, and being able to walk up the same twisting flight of stairs the light keeper walked regularly hundreds of years ago, creates an experience like no other. In the South, you might also run across places like the Natural Bridge in Virginia, or the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina or Tennessee. There’s even Bourbon Street in New Orleans. If the road decides to lead west, there’s the majestic Grand Canyon in Arizona. If the wheels point north, Niagara Falls is waiting in New York.
Even just looking out the window will bring a surprise. You know for a fact that when you left this morning there was snow on the ground. As your trip leads you farther south, the weather starts doing a magic trick. The snow disappears from the ground, the sun shines high on green trees and grass, and once you have reached your destination it is time for a wardrobe change. Long pants and jackets are left behind for shorts and t-shirts all in a few hours of the day. There are plenty of other eye-catchers along the way, and it only takes a road trip to get going in the direction of one of them, and possibly lots of others. The experiences people share at these sites are unparalleled to anything else because these things create the adventure and surprise that people are looking for while traveling. Being a part of the wonder of not knowing where the road will take you is the driving purpose behind a road trip.
It’s also the special bond formed between people while on a road trip. The bond originates not from how they get to where they are going, but from what happens along the way. It is getting lost and having to navigate through small labyrinths of towns, relying only on the sense of direction from the people you are with, and possibly a stranger. It is finding that modest breakfast diner that is so good the locals try and keep it secret. It is being in such close quarters and having nothing to laugh at but each other. Comfortable or not, people reach their destination closer with their friends and family than when they started. It might not be obvious from the start—everyone might need to take some quiet time alone for a few minutes—but being able to share this trip with those special people is what makes the road trip really worth it. And getting to play all the great games, of course. Now, are we there yet?