When I lived in Japan, during our first few months, two friends and I would sometimes go on road trips a few hours long, from Nagoya. We’d find out about some festival in another town and take off to experience it. We made playlists and got snacks, and armed with a Garmin GPS device, we left home.
Those were fun times, driving off with no expectations of where we were going or what we’d find, taking detours, and experiencing the neighborhoods outside Nagoya.
Fond Road Trip Memories
Two of my fondest memories involve us getting lost. The first time, following the instructions from the GPS, we found ourselves driving in the middle of a rice field. The path was only as wide as the car, and we had no choice but to keep going forward until we could escape from the field.
My second significant memory from those trips involves going off the path so we could get close to the Pacific ocean. Suddenly we found ourselves on a road that could have been in Miami, with palm trees, wide lanes, and spectacular views of the oceans.
My most recent road trip involved driving around Tenerife with a friend (she drove while I navigated). She navigated this crazily winding road to get us to Masca, which promised impressive natural views. We explored from morning until night that day, making numerous planned and spontaneous stops along the way..
Different people might have different ideas about a road trip. For me, a road trip is one that involves multiple stops over several hours. Even better if the path is a new experience.
Relationships on a Road Trip
The idea of taking a road trip on my own has no appeal to me. I don’t enjoy driving, and especially not long distances. Instead, I’m happy to be the navigator sitting in the passenger seat.
Spending many hours in a car with someone else can be a test of your relationship. Your style of communication and expectations of the trip, as well as your other shared travellers are important considerations. I’ve done road trips with many friends, with different levels of success.
A friend is trying to convince me to travel around the US with her in 2022 in an RV. At some point in a recent conversation, she said “it would be great because you can help me drive”. We have a great relationship, and I could honestly tell her that this comment is a deterrent to my decision to accompany her on this trip. I haven’t decided yet, but I’m considering taking this road trip with her. While I’ve visited several states, I haven’t hit many of the top sites in the US so it would be an exciting trip if I could wrangle it.
I’ve traveled a lot with this friend during our 14-year friendship and I’m confident a road trip would make our relationship even stronger if anything. However, it will be good for us to have a conversation before we embark on a multi-day road trip (my first one).
7 Tips for a Great Road Trip
- Decide who is going to drive and how you will allocate driving, navigation and other duties.
- Agree on budgeting for the trip and how you will manage costs.
- Discuss the must-view sites or must-do activities on each of your lists. Be sure to choose a reasonable number of 1-2 top sights each per day along with optional activities and leave some slack in your schedule to embrace serendipity and opportunities for magic and wonder.
- Agree on the entertainment options during the trip. Will you listen to podcasts, audio books, music, particular stations? Consider both interests.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. This can apply to any area of life, really. If something isn’t crucial to you, let it go rather than allowing it to be a point of contention.
- Take breaks for (healthy) food and movement. It can be tempting to eat junk food and think it’s part of the fun. Having water and healthy food, and stopping for breaks will keep your energy up and won’t contribute to emotional ups and downs.
- Keep an open mind and enjoy the experience. Look for things to be thankful for every day about the trip, each other, and the places that you are visiting.
Who is the person in your life with whom you would like to take a road trip? And if you’ve taken a road trip in the US, let me know what were your favorite places to stop.