Have you ever watched one of those movies with an epic road trip and suddenly felt like there was piece of you missing that could only be discovered on the open road?
Are you someone that, even with that deep seeded desire, has no idea where to start, so you just hit the pine and whine loop on your couch?
If you said yes to either of those questions, just know that I totally get it, BUT, there is little time to waste. So, let’s step away from the “why you can’t” and move into the “how you will.” Because the fact of the matter is: you can.
You can stick your head out the window and let the warm breeze hit your face.
You can lie on the hood of your car and stare endlessly at the night sky.
You can sneak out of your dad’s house in the middle of the night with your 2 ex best friends on a quest to meet your mother (a.k.a Samantha Jones) and then fall in love with that guy from Hell on Wheels.
Okay, so maybe that last one was just Britney Spears in Crossroads…but you never know. And while the best part of any road trip is its unpredictability, here are 6 steps aimed to help steer you into that craveable unknown.
1) Pick a destination
Don’t panic, this isn’t as intimidating as it seems, though it is more important than you might think. Sure, the prospect of driving off into the sunset, unconfined by “a direction” or “a plan” sounds enticing. But after the hours start adding up, you might find yourself yearning for a goal. So, pick a state line, a landmark, a restaurant, a giant rock, anything you can plug into Google maps, then start being spontaneous. Because as frustrated as Siri should get by the constant *recalculating*, she’ll always have your back. And with that “big” destination in the back of your mind, you’ll have the freedom to find little ones along the way.
2) Pick your travel companions
This is a big one, possibly even bigger than choosing a destination. Maybe I should have made this step one…oh well. But seriously, stop for a second and really think about who you are locking yourself in a wheeled box with for countless hours. Seeing as I don’t know you personally, I can’t really tell you who you should bring, that’s on you, but just know this: at some point or another you’re going to want, no, need to play Aaron Carter’s debut album, Aarons Party (Come Get It), and if you’ve surrounded yourself with people that won’t belt out, “That’s How I Beat Shaq”, you will always regret it. #makegoodchoices
3) Buy Snacks
I’m sure there is some formula for choosing snacks in both a healthy and financially responsible way, but let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of nowhere and there is a lull in conversation, you’re going to get hungry and it’s going to be for straight garbage. So, my suggestion to you is to, at some point leading up to your trip, stay up an hour or two later than you normally would, then go to your local grocery store and grab everything that sounds good in that moment. No matter what it is. And don’t take too long. A rushed, exhausted mind will most definitely make choices a hangry road tripper will appreciate. “Oh my gosh, we have cheese balls and licorice in here! Who wants some!?!”
4) Pick your music
Now we’ve already established that Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) is a must. But that album only runs about 40 minutes, so chances are you’ll need other options. The radio, like a student enrolled in an 8 am college class, will only come in sporadically, thus making it an unreliable source of tunes. You’ll need a playlist, or a handful of CD’s. If you’re feeling particularly daring, grab a few of those burned CD’s you made in high school that are now sitting in a dark corner of your bedroom. If the title you’ve scribbled across the front in sharpie isn’t entertainment enough, just wait until you get 4 or 5 tracks deep and hear that song that you dedicated to an old crush. When that happens, take a few seconds to cringe, and then let it go and sing your heart out.
5) Let Go, Open Up, and Look Around
One of the best things the open road has to offer is time. Time to think, time to talk, and time to stay silent. As the miles go by you might find unhealed wounds or unanswered questions, and there is no better time to bring them up. Be honest, reveal your oddities, let go of the inhibitions the outside world has pushed upon you. There is no better place to truly express yourself. Well, except for maybe therapy, but I’ve never heard of a therapist that allows you to break for beers, ice cream or dance parties in the dessert.
6) Remember, Relive, Redo
Whether you like it or not, that box on wheels you call a car will eventually start to feel like a home. It will become a little bubble where nothing can go wrong and no one can hurt you. I’ll admit, when you finally reach your destination it almost feels weird to get out and explore the world outside your windows. But with each step outside the car, you remember all the miles spent inside it and you feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and surprise. You’ll sit down on that rock or in that restaurant or on that beach and you’ll think to yourself, “why didn’t I do this sooner?” followed by, “where can I go next?” And with a deep breath of fresh air, you’ll realize the answer is: anywhere you want.