If you live on the East Coast, a road trip out west is a quintessential experience you need to have at least once in your life. So grab your BFFs, fill your suitcase to the brim and gas up the SUV -- it's time to hit the road.
If your friends need a little convincing to choose a cross-country car trip over the flight to Barcelona or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, give them these reasons:
Long road trips are the best road trips.
You could technically take a road trip from Charlotte to Atlanta or New York City to Boston, but let's be real: Those are day trips.
The only way to get the full road trip experience is to hop in the car and drive for two or three days – and sometimes more.
While there will certainly be times on a long road trip when you'll crave your bed or want to get out of the car more than anything, there will also be plenty of times where you'll think, “Is there anything better than this?”
A long trip gives you the chance to play road trip games, make random pit stops, see parts of the country you would never plan to go to and learn more about your friends.
A shorter trip just doesn't give you these options.
You have to visit these places once in your life.
While the actual road trip -- driving through states, taking naps in the car, playing games and sightseeing -- is half the fun, the destination is the main focus. And when you finally make it out west, you won't regret it.
Here are a few sites you should consider hitting:
The Grand Canyon. If you're out west, the Grand Canyon is obviously the top of any bucket list. Nestled along the Colorado River, this jaw-dropping marvel of nature is 100 times more powerful in person than it is in pictures.
Hoover Dam. If the Grand Canyon is one of nature's most impressive sights, the Hoover Dam is one of man's most impressive accomplishments. Built in the 1930s, this dam supplies hydroelectric energy to much of the Southwest.
Yosemite National Park. If your trip ends up taking you further north, definitely take the time to see some of Yosemite National Park. It's absolutely gorgeous and presents a great opportunity to spend time in nature.
Zion National Park. In Utah, you'll find Zion National Park -- a canyon that's as large as it is beautiful. If you're interested in wildlife, you'll find all kinds of creatures -- including more than 200 bird species.
This is just a sampling of some of the places you need to check out. Strategically plan your route and try to experience as many of these sites as possible.
And you have to do these things once in your life, too.
While there's something to be said for sitting back and soaking in the beautiful national parks and sites, sometimes it feels good to be adventurous and step outside of your comfort zone.
With that being said, here are a few things you need to do while out west:
White water rafting. Want to experience the Grand Canyon from the very bottom? Try white water rafting. As Expedia says, “Rafting allows us to venture into Mother Nature's most secret places, places unseen by most humans. It also allows us to venture into those places within our own psyches and souls that sometimes never see the light of day.”
Helicopter tours. A flight over the Grand Canyon is certain to be the highlight of your trip. Combine it with white water rafting and you'll have seen the Grand Canyon from both the highest and lowest points. Try the West Rim if you want to avoid the crowds.
Rock climbing. If you're interested in rock climbing, scaling one of the many routes in Zion National Park can be a whole lot of fun. The best conditions are from March through May and September through November.
Activities like these will leave a lasting impression on you and your friends. Be open to random adventures and you'll have a lot more fun.
Gas prices are still low.
OK, let's talk about something really practical now: gas prices. Money is obviously a determining factor in the long road trip and you want to make sure everyone can afford the trip.
Hypothetically, let's say you're taking a road trip from Charleston, SC to the Grand Canyon. That's roughly 4,200 miles round trip -- with no detours or pit stops. If your car gets 30 miles to the gallon, you're talking about 140 gallons of gas for the trip.
With that much gas on the line, the differences in the price you pay at the pump can be vital.
If you would've taken this trip back in the summer of 2008 when gas prices were an average of $4.10 per gallon, you would have paid nearly $600 in gas.
If you had waited a little later when the average price dropped to $1.59, you would have paid just $225.
And the good news is, gas prices are extremely low right now. The current national average is right around $2.16 (give or take a few cents).
That's a really great price, which makes it an ideal time to take a road trip.
Plus, as you get further away from the East Coast and enter into New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, prices drop to right around $2 per gallon.
If your road trip budget is tight, low gas prices can mean the difference between sleeping in your car and splurging on a hotel room. We can all agree the latter is more enticing.
You never know when you'll be together again.
If you and your friends are getting ready to graduate high school or college -- or find you're all starting to disperse to different cities with new careers -- then you don't know when you'll all be together again.
If you get the chance to take a road trip together, don't squander the opportunity.
Planning is good, but spontaneity is even better. While you can spend months planning your road trip, the longer you spend talking about it, the less likely you'll actually do it.
At some point, you have to get off the travel blogs, grab the keys and drive. You won't regret it.