|by Cody McCain|
I've grown up my entire life going on plane rides, boat rides, and bus rides, but none of them compare to good ol' fashioned car rides. Seeing life from the road is an unexplainable feeling. It's a freedom that is unmatched by any other means of transportation. While on a roadtrip, YOU are in control of where you go, when you go, and why you go.
Though America did not inherently invent long distance travel, I believe we opened it up and made it available to anyone and everyone. Whether you're a backroad chaser, or a straightforward highway driver, here are some things that I think are often overlooked in everyday roadtrips:
1. Good Music
These days, you have to make an effort to not have a way of playing music in your vehicle. With so many options and ways of playing music, why not pick one that caters to you? Apps such as Spotify and Rdio have recently made listening to music extremely easy and accessible. My advice? Make an offline playlist with as much music as needed for your whole trip, and some. I listened to 90 albums on my roadtrip to Alaska, and it's nice to have a variety when you inevitably get bored of the same ol' same.
2. Good Food
Yes, there is a way to drive more than 2 hours without feeling a need to go to McDonalds. Go to a grocery store before and along the way, and pick some good stuff that you can store and will keep your energy up. Picking healthier foods will not only help prevent sluggishness from your 4th pack of Reeses, but will also increase alertness as you drive. My favorite snack I take with me on trips is guacamole--fresh, made by me, guacamole. It got me through the tiring windy roads of Canada with ease. Don't underestimate the power of energy rich food!
3. Side Trips
I have found it to be so important not to have a strict schedule on a trip. A roadtrip is stressful enough after your 10th hour of looking at absolutely nothing in central Nebraska, so don't make it worse by time restrictions. Yes, you should have a general idea of when you need to get to your destination, but leave time for side trips and breaks--you'll need them. So much of America's uniqueness and beauty comes from off the beaten path. Stop and smell the roses, or the foresty goodness of the redwoods in north California. Case in point, I stumbled across the Sign Post Forest in British Columbia by complete accident and it ended up being my favorite side trip I've ever had. Most times it's about the way you get there that makes a trip memorable.
4. Respect for the Moment
Being able to look back on a trip with hundreds of photographs is a privilege we have nowadays that everybody else in history never had. I personally love taking pictures of places I go. I do, however, firmly believe that some experiences are better left unphotographed. Take a second and realize how special those moments are when you don't have a screen in front of you. Our generation seeks to document literally everything we come across, and this often leads to regret after we realize we never really truly took in what we just experienced. That moment is unique, and though lots of pictures may help you remember it in the future, I believe that experience trumps remembrance. Find your healthy balance of respect of that moment and documenting it with photos.
As much as we love the idea of pursuing the idealism of a solitary roadtrip to escape society, we always return to the fact that we are made to work best with a buddy. We need another person to do more than simply keep us awake, or take a turn at driving. We need that person or people to experience it with us. Having driven 5,000 miles to Alaska by myself, I can say that I survived by myself, but roadtrips are so much more than surviving. Go with somebody who wants to share in your adventure, and then meet people along the way! People are nicer than might you think, and you never know who you'll come across in this small world.
Don't wait for the conditions to be perfect for a roadtrip, just go. Take what experience is in store for you and treasure the freedom that we have to come and go as we will.