Many of life's greatest stories begin with a couple of friends randomly deciding to jump in a car and drive somewhere.
You roll down the windows, turn up the tunes and cruise into brand new adventures. Indeed, there's nothing better than a good ol' fashioned road trip.
We all have an inexplicable desire to move and discover, an almost primal urge conceivably inherited from our nomadic ancestors. Road trips quench that thirst.
Once on the road, we find the destination doesn't matter nearly as much as the journey itself.
In a sense, road trips are a metaphor for life: They're arbitrary and wondrous expeditions that don't always have a clear beginning or ending.
To borrow from Jack Kerouac:
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
The road helps you embrace the unexpected, renews your faith in the world and broadens your mind.
Thus, people who love road trips are among the most spontaneous, positive and wise individuals around.
Embarking on a road trip is all about welcoming randomness.
The best road trippers are spontaneous individuals, people who don't get discouraged when things don't go according to plan. Traffic, bad weather and changed plans don't shake them.
They revel in the arbitrary nature of the world and how literally anything could happen from this moment to the next. To them, the key to life is going with the flow, and they take this mentality when adventuring on the road.
So much of our lives is already planned. Road trips are about saying "goodbye" to all the overwhelming uniformity and organization. The world is chaotic, in every sense of the word, and sometimes vacations should be too.
Flying across the world takes months of planning. Hopping into a vehicle to drive across the country can be a last-minute decision that changes your life.
For a lot of people, this isn't very easy, as spontaneity can be frightening. But the benefits outweigh the costs.
As Douwe Osinga, founder of the travel app Triposo, contends:
It's not hard to compile a list of must-visit sights and attractions before you travel. The problem is, if you only focus your trip only on these types of places, you'll miss some of the most important travel experiences out there: the ones that are born of spontaneity and happenstance. Just go somewhere. Just pick a place, get on the road and go.
More often than not, it's better to think before you act. But if you allow that mentality to dictate your entire life, you'll end up missing out on countless opportunities.
Some planning is always good, but being on the road is better when you're not constrained by details.
People who take road trips are more optimistic.
Heading out on the road is all about detaching from the taxing monotony of our daily lives. Sometimes we get so caught up in everything it's hard to realize how stressed we are. This is precisely why it's so important to get away.
Research shows travel can help reduce stress and anxiety. Dr. Paul Nussbaum, clinical neuropsychologist and professor at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, argues it's incredibly good for our brain's health, stating:
Travel is good medicine. It challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, it is an important behavior that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.
What better way to encounter novel experiences and environments than out on the open road?
When you're behind the wheel, you can stop and explore whenever your instincts point you toward something intriguing. There's so much out there to be discovered.
Moreover, according to a report from the Global Coalition on Aging, which Nussbaum was involved in, Americans who travel are decidedly more relaxed and optimistic than those who don't.
There's no doubt this is because travel is food for the soul. It exposes you to the endless, inexplicable, dynamic and diverse beauty of the world and its inhabitants.
Road trips, in particular, are an even more intense means of encountering it all.
When we travel by air, we don't get a real feel for the sights and sounds we're passing over. But it's a different story when the journey occurs out on the road.
You see and hear everything, meet new people, taste new food and encounter vastly disparate landscapes.
It reminds you how much this world has to offer, leaving you feeling immensely positive about what the future holds.
So if you haven't taken a break from life in awhile, find some friends, hop in a car and go get lost -- your brain will thank you.
Spending time on the road is enlightening.
Road trips breed insight and perspective. When you're out on the open road, it allows your mind to wander, helping you recognize and address deeply ingrained thoughts, memories and emotions.
Simply put, road trips allow us to unwind and decompress. In the process, we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.
In the words of Philip Caputo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and avid traveler:
I think one of the things that happens on the road is that you leave behind a lot of your own inhibitions, your own baggage. And if you let yourself, you become more open to these encounters and these experiences, and you can really learn something.
One of the best aspects of traveling via the road is the number of people you'll see and meet. You don't always have to travel abroad to encounter new cultures and ways of thinking.
No matter where you live, all countries, both large and small, are full of a diverse array of people and landscapes.
When you travel by road, you're exposed to the idiosyncrasies that both bind and separate this planet.
You experience firsthand how people change from cities to rural areas, and you watch the land transition from beaches, mountains, rivers, deserts, plains and beyond. Simultaneously, you recognize that, in spite of apparent differences, there is an undeniable connectivity to all life.
If you want to discover the universe, hit the road.
Citations: Friends want life advice Tell them to travel more (BBC), For a More Creative Brain Travel (The Atlantic), Road Trip Health Net Points Out the Health Benefits of Vacations (Market Watch), Why your brain needs vacations (CNN), 5 Ways to Travel More Spontaneously (Huffington Post), New Research Reveals Americans Are Not Saving Adequately for Travel in Retirement Despite Its Positive Effects on the Healthy Aging Process (Global Coalition on Aging), To See America Be a Traveler Not a Tourist (The New York Times)