“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
It may seem clichéd to quote Jack Kerouac’s most famous novel “On The Road,” but I can’t think of a more prophetic and eloquent way to describe exactly why roadtripping will, indeed, save your soul.
In his beautifully painted novel about the journey of friends traveling across the landscape of America, Kerouac points out exactly why exploring the country in which you were born (and most likely die) in will change everything you knew about life, love and the open road.
In the age of abrasive technology and lost communication, roadtripping may be the last genuine act of human exploration we have. Just you and your friends on the open road, exploring new territories and places you’ve only read about in textbooks and history lessons.
It’s the first and last frontier, the beginning, the end and everything in between. So do yourself a favor and save yourself before you become too bitter and jaded to see the world through the only lens it should be seen through: your windshield.
You Haven’t Seen Your Country In Its Entirety
“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?”
To die without seeing the land your forefathers fought for is like dying in vain. Everyone should walk across the rolling hills, canyons and forgotten routes that were forged for our very feet to cross.
There is no pride in calling yourself a citizen if you can’t even say you’ve seen your country. Every state line, every highway and every opportunity. Why spend all your time visiting other lands when you don’t even know your own?
You Haven't Explored Infinite Routes With No Wrong Turns
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
The beauty of roadtripping is experiencing the freedom that comes with infinite routes and no wrong turns. Because it’s all your land, and all of it is to be explored. Making a detour and exploring a town you would have never seen if you stayed on Route 66 is part of the excitement and attraction to roadtripping.
People who roadtrip are people who know how to deviate from maps, schedules and plans. They are explorers, adventurers and the most spontaneous people you’ll ever meet.
You Haven't Experienced Life As A True Explorer
“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.”
Only when you’ve taken to the open road can you truly call yourself an explorer. Stopping for directions, hidden diners and shady garage sales are all part of the adventure.
True explorers find new adventures with every missed turn, wrong route and shortcut. They sleep in their cars, converse with the locals and try anything and everything that’s new and foreign.
You Haven't Let It Change You
“Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.”
Traveling to foreign lands changes your perspective -- and so does traveling across your own. Exploring your own country for the first time can be a life-changing experience.
There’s a sense of wonderment and pride that comes with seeing the masses of land and natural wonder that we inhabit. It’s an eye-opening experience to witness the diverse landscapes and cultures your country can hold. Denying yourself this opportunity is like refusing to let yourself live fully.
You Haven't Met All Those People
“A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”
Just like those crazy foreigners you met in Ibiza and Paris, the mass of strangers and new friends you will make will stay with you long past your return date.
You will meet people as diverse and foreign to you as those who speak another language. You will learn new recipes, new names and new ways of living. You will make connections across states and borders, creating new alliances and places to call home.
You Haven't Seen Sunrises And Sunsets
“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was.”
Only on the open road can you unwittingly see sunrises and sunsets on the same day. Driving into the unknown road in front of you, as the sun sets, is something you will never experience staring off a balcony.
The same goes for driving throughout the night only to be greeted by the soft glow of the returning sun over the mountains ahead of you. It’s a spiritual experience that needs no Gospel music or biblical verses to help you understand or believe in.
You Haven't Felt The Open Road
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
Have you ever felt completely free? Completely uninhibited? Like you had nothing in front of you and nothing behind you? You can't experience that feeling of true infinite bliss until you're driving down the open road.
There’s something serene and spiritual about driving towards nothing and leaving nothing behind you but the dust of your tires. Your past and all those regrets you left behind cannot keep you when you are driving miles ahead of it.
You Haven't Truly Lived In The Moment
“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
There’s nothing that will put you in the moment more than a long drive. You are never more aware and observant than when you are at the wheel.
Forcing yourself to stay at the wheel for weeks at a time will give you a new appreciation for living in the moment and understanding the necessity of staying present.
For probably the first time in your life, you are aware, and that awareness of your surroundings and the people by your side will stay with you for years to come.
You Haven't Gained A New Perspective
“The best teacher is experience and not through someone's distorted point of view.”
Like traveling across oceans, traveling across state lines will also give you a change of perspective. States are as different as neighboring countries in Europe. There may not be different languages, but there are most definitely different ways of speaking.
There are new ideas, new religions and new ways of living. If you’re open-minded, you may even learn a thing or two from the many different ways of life you encounter on the road.
You Haven't Made Strong Friendships
“There was nothing to talk about anymore. The only thing to do was go.”
Love your fellow passengers, love yourself. There’s no better bonding experience than weeks on the road with your best friend. Strangers turn into friends, and friends into family. Sharing this life-altering experience with someone is something you both will cherish for the rest of your lives.
There’s no better way to get to know people than by spending hours in a car with them. Sharing music, open windows and memories that will never compare to anything either of you will ever do in your lives again.
Photo via Flickr