King Or Queen Of The Road: 18 Excellent Reasons To Take A Road Trip
Road trips have appealed to me for many years. I’m certainly not opposed to getting on a bus, train, or airplane in order to reach my destination. However, there is something about the freedom and possibility of a road trip which I find hard to pass up. Even when my wanderlust is at its lowest ebb, I’m often thinking of future destinations and oddball attractions I could visit along the way. Once I was about to take a road trip and a friend suggested I find the largest ball or twine or whatever unusual landmarks were available. I realize that people travel for innumerable reasons, and I therefore recognize that not everyone wants to have their picture taken by the mammoth statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Minnesota. Nonetheless, I aspire to offer reasons to travel which will appeal to a wide range of individuals.
I consider a road trip any trip in which you spend at least one night away from home. This means you may venture only ninety miles from home in order to attend a concert or see a friend. A road trip can several hundred miles longer or even much longer. In fact, I would love to one day to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and discover many quirky attractions along the way.
Most of these suggestions will apply whether you travel solo or with company. There are advantages to traveling alone, as well with the companionship of family members, friends, and beyond. In fact, I believe taking a road trip is an excellent way to better get to know someone. It isn’t the only way, of course, and stress can result if you are traveling with someone who wants to see completely different attractions and so forth. While compromise is often required to solve such differences of opinion, having someone to experience new places with can be invaluable. Also, I’ve enjoyed being able to discuss former road trips with the friends I traveled with many years later.
Without further ado, here is the list of 18 reasons you should take a road trip.
- In order to visit towns with strange or comedic names and take pictures—selfies or otherwise—next to the welcome signs or other signs in this town. These pictures can make diverting Facebook posts, as well as add some variety to any Christmas photo collage you send to your friends and family. If you don’t know what towns to visit, consider these possibilities: Tinkerbush, United Kingdom; Bong Bong, Australia; Experiment, Pennsylvania; Mary’s Igloo, Alaska; and Monkey’s Eyebrow, Arizona.
Which unusually-named town would you prefer to visit?
2. So you can explore more of your family history. This can mean anything from visiting the town where your grandparents were born, or looking at local birth and death records in the town where your great-grandparents lived after immigrating to the United States.
3. Because life is short and the world is full of unusual museums. If you are a fan of mustard, you can visit the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. If you are on Prince Edward Island in Canada, you can always visit the local potato museum. Finally, all skeptics, believers, and agnostics are welcome at the International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico.
4. If museums aren’t your thing, consider visiting noteworthy landmarks such as the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon, or Carhenge, the car version of Stonehenge in Alliance, Nebraska.
5. Road trips make it possible to eat food and try beverages which are hard or impossible to find at home. This can mean anything from drinking mint juleps in Charleston, South Carolina to eating freshly-caught salmon in Anchorage, Alaska. To say nothing of sampling the local beers and wine options wherever you may roam.
6. To give yourself an excuse to get off the interstate and explore the lesser-used roads. You may be amazed at what you discover—and even the solitude you find—by doing this.
7. If you are a fan of singing karaoke, you can always sing karaoke in a different town (or country) while on a road trip. Years ago I sang karaoke at a bar in Wisconsin while in transit, and this remains a fond memory.
8. In order to drive so far from civilization you can stargaze like a pro. This option may not appeal to everyone; also, this is best achieved by camping.
9. To give yourself an excuse to travel to a new place in order to see a concert, musical, or music festival. In 2008 a first cousin and I drove to Chicago in order to see “Wicked,” and the fact we were going to Chicago for this specific reason made the road time more enjoyable.
10. So you can visit your family and friends who live far away. The fact I have friends and family scattered all across the United States (and a few abroad), I cannot imagine planning a road trip without first asking myself, “Is there anyone I can visit along the way?”
11. If you are traveling with a friend, romantic partner, or family member you typically exchange Christmas or birthday gifts with, taking a road trip together is an excellent opportunity to take numerous pictures of your trip in order to make a collage of these—using Shutterfly is one option—to give as a future gift.
12. Road trips are excellent ways to expose yourself to new cultures. This is most true is you diverge from the well-worn path of other travelers in order to visit smaller towns, local diners, and even attend church services or sporting events when you are many miles from home. Many of my best travel stories involve tramping through small town America in order to meet the locals, sample the local foods, and take in my surroundings.
13. For anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, road trips can be taken in order to visit state or national parks or other natural wonders. If you are willing to go the extra mile, camping in these destinations may help you better enjoy the beauty of these places.
14. A road trip can also be taken to help deepen an existing relationship. Question books such as “The Book of Questions” can facilitate this process when you reach a lull in the conversation. Learning how someone travels can also be an eye-opening experience.
15. Taking a road trip can give you an excuse to revisit you old favorite CDs. This is the best time to dust off the CDs you loved five, ten, or even fifteen years ago. It’s also an excellent time to jam out to “road worthy” tunes such as Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and John Mayer’s cover of “Route 66.”
16. Going on a road trip, especially one to a destination vastly different from where you live, can give you added perspective. For instance, if you live in a rural, conservative setting, visiting New York City or San Francisco, California may constitute culture shock.
17. By visiting placing significantly different from where you live, you may also learn to better appreciate your daily existence because of what you’re witnessed elsewhere.
18. Finally, traveling by car gives you added flexibility compared to taking an airplane, bus, or train. You are able to stop at hole-in-the-wall diners or visit Wall Drug, South Dakota or even decide to only travel 100 miles one day. Regardless why you decide to take a road trip, I hope these reasons will make you think more seriously about hitting the road in the near future.