You only have one life to live, and when it comes to creating and adding to your bucket list, travel is definitely on the top of most people’s to-dos.
But when deciding on different travel spots domestically and internationally — like hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, eating your way through Italy and/or diving in the Great Barrier Reef — does a road trip really belong among life’s great adventures? Absolutely.
The road trip is an iconic American vacation for a reason — it embraces the great, wide-open feeling of “anything can happen” in a way that no other journey is able. If you’re not quite ready to jump in the car and head out into the great unknown, take a look at these three reasons a road trip is an experience every adventurer should have at least once in their life.
1. Know That Detours are Encouraged
When you plan a typical vacation, you do just that — plan. As such, when you decide on visiting a destination like the Grand Canyon or Italy, you want to come home feeling like you didn’t miss any of the good stuff. Of course, this is great and welcomed by many people, but for others, it may not provide them with a lot of room for spontaneous detours.
With a road trip, however, you’ll likely have several planned stops along the way to experience the local flavor and attractions. Still, a road trip is often spontaneous in nature anyway, so detours and flights of fancy are encouraged.
See a sign for a lake 10 miles off your intended route and fancy a swim? Go! Did someone in the last town tell you about an amazing, off-the-beaten-path winery that’s not featured on any top-10 list? Make a beeline for that Pinot!
2. Experience the Beauty of the Road Less Traveled
There are few ways to truly appreciate the vastness and beauty of just about any location than from the road.
When you fly into a destination, you get to experience your immediate surroundings, but you don’t really get a sense about what connects it to the larger world.
Taking the road less traveled will let you see things you won’t find in any guidebook, as well as give you the ability to talk to people who aren’t just catering to tourists, but who also live and work there and can provide new, fresh perspectives.
3. Spend Valuable Time Connecting with Your Companions
On a road trip, the time spent traveling is not just a stressful means to an end — it’s often a huge part of the adventure.
So while there are likely a variety of fun activities and new experiences waiting for you on a road trip, you’ll also have some much-needed built-in downtime, which will give you time to connect — with yourself and your traveling companions.
Road trips involve a lot of choice, giving you the chance to think about things that really make you happy and find out what brings joy to those around you.
Before You Go…
Convinced a road trip is for you? Awesome. But, before you grab your keys, make sure your vehicle is ready to take everywhere the wind blows you. With that in mind, get a full tune-up and pay especially close attention to car parts that are taxed by lots of driving, like belts, fluid levels and tires.
For example, depending on the type of terrain on which you’ll be driving — and the weather conditions you’re bound to encounter — you may need a different set of tires. While all-season tires are generally better for quietness, comfort and fuel efficiency, all-terrain tires are recommended if your adventure will take you off-roading or through extreme winter weather.
You should also be prepared for emergencies that are bound to pop up with a good roadside assistance service on speed dial and an emergency kit stashed in your trunk. Additionally, doing a little bit of vehicle preparation before you go will afford you the opportunity to be spontaneous while you’re on the road.
It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination
Your vehicle is road-trip-ready, and you’re prepared to hit the road. So where should you go? Anywhere. That’s the beauty of a road trip. More than any other adventure, the road trip is really all about the journey, not the destination.
It’s all out there on the open road — the chance to enjoy a spontaneous detour, experience life outside of a guidebook, and connect with yourself and your traveling companions through new, shared experiences.