Road trips – they’re more than just the destination. When was the last time you got in a car and drove with a loose plan in mind? An idea of where to go and what to see, but ready for the destination. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling by plane, but road trips hold a special place in my heart. There’s something about sketchy gas station stops in the middle of the night, trying to stay awake listening to N’SYNC radio, and waking up in a different place everyday. I’ve met the most interesting people on my road trips and also learn something each trip that makes the next one even better. In the past year, I had a few solo road trips, which is another level.
Why Road Trips beat Flying
1.Side Road Stops
3. Getting to know yourself
4. Change of Plans
Side Road Stops
Ever see those signs for side road stops? “See the Fast and Furious cars – FREE” You spend a few exits wondering if it’s worth it to stop. Or want to see the World’s Largest Pair of Overalls? Flying, stopping at these wonders don’t happen as easily.
Did your parents ever tell you not to talk to strangers? I never really did until a few years ago when I started to do solo road trips. After not talking to someone other than my dog for a few days, I needed to talk to someone. The conversations with Aurora were starting to get a little too deep. Traveling alone is usually intriguing for people – especially when they find out that you just drove to Jackson the night before and were up for the powder day the next morning. Traveling alone means there are a lot of selfie shots to update Instagram with unless you ask someone for help. Want a group shot that isn’t a selfie? Still need to ask someone for help.
The most interesting people I’ve met were on trips when I needed to take a picture and lead to new memories. I asked someone to take my picture on the top of Jackson Hole. He asked if I traveled to Jackson a lot (the last time was about 10 years prior) and as I said “No”, he showed me around Jackson, and introduced me to other people for the next few days. I also learned about the area, we had some good conversations about the meaning of life, and had a new adventure.
Not completely comfortable talking to strangers yet? Here are a few ways to start getting comfortable:
- Start small now – greet someone new everyday. Do you get coffee? Say something extra to the barista today.
- Start with where questions, get someone else to talk about themselves.
- Where are you from? Where is a good place to get breakfast? The conversation will either start to flow or end.
- Keep personal information private – where you’re staying, personal address, cell phone number.. there are many other ways to communicate.
Getting to know yourself & the people that you’re with
So, you’re in the car with yourself or other people – there’s maybe music playing. This is when the conversations really start and you’ll find out if you really like the people you’re with, because you’re within the doors of the car for maybe days on end, depending on the length of the trip.
Change of Plans
Did the destination not meet expectations? Was the weather not quite right? A lot of my trips were done while camping or booking last minute reservations. Sometimes this worked out great – booking hotels was easy, found a great campsite, or found an unexpected place along the way and decided to stay. Other times, not so great – ended up sleeping in my car overnight – drove longer than expected, or booked a place in a sketchy hotel (and forgot my own pillow). Sometimes, taking the risk is what it’s about and the memories that come with it.
Some things I’ve learned along the way:
- If booking hotel reservations ahead of time, pay attention to the cancellation policy. If it’s an advance purchase or third party, you may end up losing money.
- Pay attention to travel dates – is there a festival or anything going on in the town you’re travel through or to? Hotels may be full or change an extravagant fee. A quick call ahead can save a few hundred dollars.
- Always pack emergency food. I get pretty hangry, especially being in a car for long periods of time. There’s emergency food hidden all around my car and in my bags. This will help anyone that you’re traveling with if they need a snack. And, in an case of emergency, there is food.
*Some of these foods may contain allergens.
- Replace your emergency food when you eat it. You’ll be happy you did when you forgot you already ate the emergency snack.
My trips usually entail a lot of gear and trying to pack it all into a suitcase or backpack doesn’t always work. I also don’t always like to be limited on activities. Whenever I bring some of my gear – I always end of wanting my other gear. In my car, I can pack almost everything for a trip.
Get out, plan a road trip! It doesn’t have to be long – even a day. Pick a place, throw a dart on the map. Learn something new, go somewhere new, or someplace you’ve been to already. Take a picture, post it to Instagram and tag me @theriskchick!