Travel & Destinations

Why Take a Road Trip: Five Benefits

On a recent road trip up the California coast, my husband and I recalled the many road trips we’d taken as kids.

I came from a family of five kids; he was one of a rowdy group of six boys. Back in the 60s, this was how families vacationed.

Plans in place, we’d load up the station wagon or van, and off we’d go. The old-fashioned paper map guided us along the way.

During Covid, road trips returned. They provided a chance for couples or families to escape their isolation in a safe way.

But those trips did something else: they reignited the sense of joy and adventure only a road trip can provide. And they brought people closer together. After all, when you’re relegated to the inside of a car for eight hours, you really get to know one another. There are so many reasons why taking a road trip is a great getaway. Read on to learn more.

Five Reasons to Take a Road Trip

1. Road Trips Refresh Childhood Memories

With no computer games or movies to keep us busy on the road, we occupied our time by playing our own special little road games. How many remember “Road Trip Bingo,” “I Spy,” or the “License Plate” game?

We were a captive audience to our surroundings, and the road journey was itself an adventure. Whether we were traveling on main highways or back roads, there were always cool things to see. And who can forget the excitement when Mom would say, “Get ready, we’ll be at the beach in a half-an-hour”?

2. Road Trips Create an Emotional Bond

Yes, being in a tight space created some tension and conflict (like who pinched who first). But, often, families grew ever closer. There were untold stories to be shared, things we didn’t know about our parents, and plenty of other revelations!

That same emotional connection can happen on today’s road trips as we not only re-live our childhood memories but also learn things about one another or hear a story we’d never heard before.

Orange Camper Van Parked in the Great Outdoors
Stopping to enjoy the view | Photo by Alfonso Escalante

3. Road Trips Provide More Flexibility

“Honey, stop the car.”

When that surprise moment pops up — like the sun appearing over the red rocks of Sedona, a fog-shrouded valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a bluebonnet-covered Texas field, or a jaw-dropping vista on the Big Sur coast — you can stop at almost any time to admire the immense beauty of nature.

Road trips allow for magic moments like these. You experience the freedom of traveling at your own pace and on your terms. You’re in control of your getaway or vacation.

4. Savor the Experience of Slow Travel

We didn’t know it as kids, but slow travel is exactly what we were doing on our road trips. Traveling by car lends itself to more meaningful experiences about the journey, not the destination.

Though plane travel gets us to our destination faster, there is no ‘journey’ factor involved.

The Slow Travel aspect doesn’t hold us to tight-set schedules. We can stop for lunch when we’re hungry, break when we want, or veer off the main route for a backroads adventure (where many off-the-beaten-path surprises occur).

5. You Can Pack What You Want

On one of our family road trips to Utah, our son — an avid stargazer and planet watcher — decided to bring his telescope. A great plan, as the night skies in Utah are indescribably breathtaking. We’d also done some glamping, which allowed us to bring a cooler to store our favorite food items.

Have a favorite pillow? You can pack that. Or anything else that will help make your trip memorable, fun, and comfortable. After all, it’s your trip, your journey, and your adventure.

American journalist and sportswriter Steve Rushin once said, “When you go on a road trip, the trip itself becomes part of the story.”

With so many reasons why you should take a road trip, it’s time to start planning one!

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Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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