Not everyone is cut out for traveling on the road — and that's OK! — but I do think it's a vacation everyone should experience at least once in their lives. For me, there's nothing more therapeutic than getting into the car, a cup of coffee in hand, music playing on the radio, and driving until I'm surrounded by nothing but wide-open spaces. I've been going on road trips since I was a little girl, and while I do love flying, there's something about road trips that no other vacation will ever be able to compete with.
As someone who grew up in Southern California, I recall being in the car a lot to travel to places like Las Vegas, Arizona, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco. And throughout grade school, my family and I did longer road trips to Texas, Utah, and Florida. But it wasn't until I started researching colleges that my love for road trips really began to blossom. From the start, I knew I wanted to attend a college that was a good distance from home, and set my sights on the Midwest. To get the most out my college visits, we organized them by how much we could fit into a road trip, so my last two years of high school were packed with being on the road.
The conversations that are had and the inside jokes that are made while on the road are so incredibly sacred.
Spoiler alert: I chose the University of Iowa. For me, it was the perfect distance from home, and taking a road trip to and from was very doable (you won't believe how expensive it can be to fly there). During the Summers of my college years, I fell in love with being on the road.
Taking road trips twice every Summer to get to and from school quickly became a bonding experience for my dad and me, which is something I'm eternally grateful for. The conversations that are had and the inside jokes that are made while on the road are so incredibly sacred. They're memories you just can't make while being squished in the middle seat on a plane 35,000 feet up in the air.
My dad and I used these road trips as our Summer vacations. Instead of driving through the night to our next spot, we picked cities to stop in along the way. We took our time, explored new places together, and had the time of our lives doing it. I feel so lucky that I've been able to see so much of the US at only 23 years old.
With all this driving, we realized we loved exploring certain states more (Colorado will always have a special place in my heart) and learned which interstates and highways offer the most scenic views. I've also learned a lot of important lessons, like never underestimating the importance of knowing how to read an actual map.
Essentially, my love for road trips boils down to the spontaneity, adventure, and views. Sure, you can plan ahead, but unless you've been there before, you don't truly know what you're going to find at the city you choose as your rest stop. You could discover the most delicious burger you've ever eaten, the world's largest truck stop, or the best cappuccino you've ever had. You get the picture.
But my favorite part of these vacations on the road is the shadows and colors the sunrises and sunsets cast among the mountains, trees, and rock formations. There's something about picking up a coffee and a pastry at a local cafe before the sun has fully risen that gives you a sense of both calm and wonder about the world around you.
Now that I've graduated from college, I'm sure my road-trip adventures won't be as grand or as long as the ones I've been able to enjoy the last four years, but it's still the kind of vacation I plan to prioritize. Because as much as I do love flying, my heart is on the road.