I want to make it clear that when I’m talking about road trips, I’m talking about Road Trips with a capital R and T. Sure, you can call it a ‘road trip’ when you drive for a couple of hours to a neighboring city to see a concert with your best friend, and you can call it a ‘road trip’ when you take a different way home from work so that you can stop by a new ice cream store.
But it is not a capital-RT Road Trip until you’re spending at least two days driving mind-numbing distances with more fast food wrappers than you know what to do with and a sinking sensation that your destination will never appear on the horizon.
Road Trips are a commitment, there’s no way around that. The space you have is limited. Your driver needs to be fully focused. Your travel companions are literally twelve inches away from you. And once you’ve started, there’s absolutely no getting out of it. Well, I guess you could always hop out halfway and call for a cab, but that’s for quitters and it’s also slightly dangerous. Stay in the car. [Read: Can’t understand why you don’t have road trip buddies? Find out here!]
The thing about Road Trips is that you’ll find yourself at a point just over halfway through the journey wondering why on earth you decided that this was the best way to travel and whose feet are stinking up the entire van and why dear god are you not there yet – it is a dark, inevitable point.
And yet, despite this moment, you will get back in the car, finish the drive to your destination, and then – maybe not immediately, maybe not in a month, maybe not even after a year – you will decide to go on a Road Trip all over again.
7 life lessons Road Trips teach you
Road Trips are more than just a way to get from one place to another. Road Trips are a journey, and as with any journey, there will be lessons that you will learn along the way. Now, each individual will have their own personal lessons to learn, but there are some universal truths that will happen no matter where your adventure takes you.
#1 There is no such thing as too many snacks. Before heading out, you may think that skimping on the number of snacks you purchase is one of the best ways to save a little money on this journey. This is where you would be very, very wrong. Snacks are going to be what will keep you and your companions sane on this trip and they’re the best way to avoid any impending arguments.
Things getting a little testy in the back seat? Time for a snack. Passengers getting bored? Time for a snack. Can’t agree on where to eat dinner? Just eat a snack instead. The value of a snack increases exponentially the longer you’re on the road – you can never have enough.
#2 There is no such thing as too many stops. Sure, it’s important to reach your destination eventually, but it’s the stops along the way that you are going to remember most clearly about your time on the road.
Being able to stop whenever you want is one of the greatest benefits to road transportation over any other kind of travel – so take advantage of it! Whenever you see a hilarious roadside attraction, the beautiful landscape or a great photo op, take the time to pull over to the side of the road and enjoy it!
#3 There is such a thing as too much luggage. When you’re packing for your Road Trip, you are going to be considering all of the possible unfortunate situations that you might find yourself in along the way. Unfortunately, the more prepared you are, the less room you’re going to have inside your vehicle.
Just because you packed it all in there on the first day does not mean that it’s going to stay clean and well organized after you have to dig through every single bag trying to find your toothbrush on the first night. Pack as little as you possibly can – if it’s truly an emergency you will be able to buy anything you need at stores along the way – everything besides your wallet, clean underwear and medication is a luxury, not a necessity!
#4 Road Trip inside jokes are the best inside jokes. There is a certain kind of hilarity that is only achieved after mind-numbing hours of driving along the highway day in and day out. This state of mind will lead to the most ridiculous inside jokes you have ever been a part of – words that, when mentioned casually months later, will send you and your travel companions into fits of laughter.
Unfortunately, these jokes that seem so hilarious on the road among your group will never translate well back into the general public – don’t try to explain the jokes to anyone else… they aren’t going to understand. [Read: 10 steps to become the funniest person on your trip]
#5 Nothing is guaranteed. Fill the tank. Your driver is going to be tempted to stretch each tank of gas as long as they possibly can. Do not let them do this. Sure, it’s frustrating to fill your tank every time the indicator drops below halfway, but there is absolutely no predicting what your day on the road is going to bring.
No matter what happens each day on your Road Trip, there is only one thing you can be sure of – you are going to need gas to keep going. This is a lesson that you only need to learn once… trust me.
#6 Silence is okay. Music is better. There are going to be a number of wonderful, peaceful silences that you will experience with your fellow travelers while driving through scenery that looks like it could be from a documentary or at night when the whole world seems to be sleeping. While a couple of these silences are nice, nothing is going to compare to the full-car sing-alongs that are going to happen when everyone’s been in the vehicle for too long.
Make your playlist before you leave home, but leave room for surprise favorites that you’ll never expect to become the theme songs of your trip. There’s nothing like hearing a song on the radio several months later and being instantly transported back to your incredible Road Trip.
#7 The destination will always come too quickly. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that the point of your Road Trip is to arrive at your final destination, you are never going to be truly ready for it to end. Even though the experience may seem endless at times, the sore butts and the cramped feeling of being so close to other people are just some of the memories you’ll be taking with you forever.
When the trip is finally over, there will be a sense of loss. Of course, you will enjoy whatever it is that waits for you at the end of the road, but it will be made even more enjoyable when those memories are recalled along with the crazy experiences that you had en-route.
Road Trips are undeniably one of the most exciting, craziest and fun-filled adventures you’ll have in your life. Not only does it bring you closer to your companions, it also helps you see more of the world with your very own eyes. You simply must go on a Road Trip at least once in your life, if not for the company, then at least for your own unique experience.
[Read: 12 insightful life lessons to get the most out of your life]
A Road Trip only takes a group of willing individuals, a vehicle and the wide open road to enjoy. There are tons of life lessons Road Trips can teach you that you’ll never learn from just sitting around at home. So pack your bags, drag along some buddies and explore while you can!
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