Why Everyone Should Take a Road Trip

A photo I took on the way to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.
A photo I took on the way to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. | Source

Road Trips Offer So Many Benefits

The Dalai Lama says that

Once a year, go some place you've never been before.

There is true and deep wisdom in these words.

After taking a recent road trip, I understand why. I've been on road trips before, but none where I actually set out and scouted a path different than any other I have taken.

I traveled from North Carolina (with my significant other) to our first destination: South Dakota. From there we went to Wyoming and Colorado.

The purpose? To see family, sacred places, possibly haunted places, and places that were just all-around awesome to see as recommended by our trusty National Geographic Road Atlas. We've used that thing over and over.

I want to share with you the reasons you should plan your next road trip now.

Entering the Badlands after a rainstorm. It was late in the day and I had to stop the car to snap this breathtaking view.
Entering the Badlands after a rainstorm. It was late in the day and I had to stop the car to snap this breathtaking view. | Source

Road Trips Break Up the Routine

Sometimes life becomes one humdrum routine: we get up, get ready, go to work, come home, sleep, and do it all over again.

Sure there are differences in that routine: some of us have children, others have extended families to help care for, some of us work at home, others have unusual jobs.

Still, the day to day routine is all too easy to maintain. It's part of living in our comfort zone and getting out of it can be difficult.

It just so happens that when you break up your routine with a road trip, it invites the opportunity for new ones to develop. Who knows? They could be better than your habits from before!

The Road Atlas We Used for our Road Trip

Our "remote" campground. Notice the thriving metropolis of tents in the background.
Our "remote" campground. Notice the thriving metropolis of tents in the background. | Source

Road Trips Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone

I get it. Changing things up and doing something different can be hard.

It takes money.

It takes effort.

It takes planning.

And there's no guarantee of how it'll all really turn out.

But then again, are there really any guarantees in life?

Getting out of your comfort zone forces you to experience new things.

On my recent road trip, we decided to camp at a free campground. We had no clue that one hundred other people would have the same idea when we headed for the "remote" campground at the Badlands.

But I embraced it. We found a spot, enjoyed the clear skies, and heard and joined in on interesting conversations from fellow travelers.

I found out that we were all in the same boat. We all wanted to find a remote, secluded spot, yet here we all were, experiencing buffaloes, prairie dogs, beautiful sunsets and sunrises together.

There's something to be said for that community spirit when lots of strangers come together and sit under the same sky at the same time and experience nature's majesty.

Our Trajectory

show route and directions
A markerBadlands National Park, SD -
Badlands National Park, Imlay Township, SD 57790, USA
[get directions]

B markerSpearfish Canyon, SD -
Spearfish, SD, USA
[get directions]

C markerDevil's Tower, WY -
Devils Tower, WY 82714, USA
[get directions]

D markerBighorn Medicine Wheel, WY -
Medicine Wheel, Lovell, WY 82431, USA
[get directions]

E markerThermopolis, WY -
Thermopolis, WY 82443, USA
[get directions]

F markerManitou Springs, CO -
Manitou Springs, CO 80829, USA
[get directions]

G markerWaynesville, NC -
Waynesville, NC 28786, USA
[get directions]

We started out right outside of Asheville, NC and made a big loop.

Take a Poll!

What Kind of Road Tripper Are You?

  • Give me maximum accommodations, please. Marriott, bus tours, fancy restaurants, the works!
  • Hey, if I've got my camper, I can go anywhere. I'll take a tour, I'll stop at an interesting restaurant, and I'll indulge!
  • I like to "rough it" and do some tent camping. I don't mind packing some food, doing some hiking and picnicking.
  • Road trips? Huh? Are you kidding me? Where's the nearest airport so I can fly to the Caribbean?
See results without voting

You See Places You've Never Seen Before

On our trip, even though we didn't necessarily go to "exotic" places like the Florida Keys or Hollywood, exploring the states we did allowed us to see sections of the United States that we'd never seen before. We also appreciated the beautiful structures and formations we might not otherwise have seen.

When we went to South Dakota, we explored the Badlands. From there, we went to Deadwood (yes, the same as in the TV show), we camped and biked in Spearfish Canyon, and drove into Wyoming to see the Devil's Tower. We also explored the Bighorn Mountains, Bighorn Medicine Wheel and Thermopolis, Wyoming among other places.

I hadn't heard of most of these places before planning our road trip. Pictures and stories do not adequately describe the wonders of these experiences. From mysterious caves to ancient inland seas to discovering dinosaur remains, every moment of the trip was a new adventure.

Devil's Tower from afar. The rock almost seems to appear out of nowhere.
Devil's Tower from afar. The rock almost seems to appear out of nowhere. | Source

You Discover Things About Yourself

Road trips seem to turn on the "introspective" part of your brain. You learn about yourself: how you can improvise, how you react in different situations, how you appreciate beauty, how you adjust to changing altitude, how you relate to people when you're not stressed and much more.

I remember one moment when I was watching rock climbers at The Devil's Tower. They were enjoying themselves. But, for me, a feeling of peace came knowing that I never wanted to climb the rock.

I have Native American Indian roots, and the Lakota Indians had petitioned the American Government to not allow climbers on the rock. They compromised and now, during the month of June each year, no climbers are allowed on the rock.

The Lakota felt like it was a sacred place and that people climbing the rock was akin to having them desecrate a church.

Incidentally, we were there on July 1 - the first day for climbers in a month. In watching them ascend the towering rock, I understood the Lakota point of view, while acknowledging the sense of adventure that the climbers had.

The pull of wanting to respect the Lakota people's wishes won out and I thought that if I ever rock climbed again, I would want to make sure it wasn't anywhere where someone considered it sacred ground.

There was that and the columns on the rock tend to slide off every so often. I definitely wouldn't want to be up there when that happened.

Even so, we took a hike along a path that traced around the rock. I understood the peace someone would feel living in a place like this: the wind through the trees, the beautiful scenery, and experiencing the impossible rock jutting out from the landscape.

The town of Deadwood, South Dakota. There's such a rich history here and characters like Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock and Wild Bill once lived here.
The town of Deadwood, South Dakota. There's such a rich history here and characters like Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock and Wild Bill once lived here. | Source

You Rediscover What's Important

In the busy-ness of daily life, we can get distracted and lose sight of what's really important. It's not about money or possessions, but about family, friends and experiences.

Sure, it does take some money to travel, but it doesn't have to be much and you can get quite inventive.

However, as my husband and I traveled on the open road, driving through rainstorms, seeing rainbows, wild animals, and getting out into the "plein air," we re-grouped and realized that yes, these are the kinds of things that we'll be talking about when we're older. To experience it together - with a loved one - and have that to look back on - is a priceless gift.

Budget Options for the Road Tripper

Idea Options for Your Next Road Trip
Low Budget
High End
Pack food using a cooler and containers
Buy restaurant food, get some groceries
Eat at fine restaurants
Tent camping
Stay in motels or campers
Stay in hotels
Low-cost or no-cost tours
Participate in some tours and attractions
Participate in lots of tours and attractions
This chart can give you an idea of how expensive or budget-friendly you can make your road trip.

Road Trips Can Be as Expensive or as Budget Friendly As You Want Them To Be

With some careful planning, a road trip doesn't have to be expensive. You can stay in motels, hotels, or you can stay at campgrounds while driving a camper or even do tent camping.

We chose the tent camping route on our most recent trip. We knew that it would be friendly to the wallet, but that we'd have maximum flexibility as to where we'd want to stay.

You can eat out, but you can plan your meals and bring your food with you. Honestly, I recommend that, anyways. You tend to eat much more healthfully and you don't get that sick feeling after eating fatty food from a restaurant (not that restaurants are a bad thing!).

Still, you can pay to take a tour or do more walking on your own.

We went to the cemetery in Deadwood, SD to see the gravesites of Calamity Jane, Wild Bill and Seth Bullock. We chose to walk because the bus tour didn't take you to Seth Bullock's grave and you were at the mercy of the bus schedule.

To be sure, if you have a hard time walking or dealing with altitude, for example, then a bus tour would be the best choice.

However, since we walked, we had time to stop and read about many other interesting people at the cemetery and hike up to Seth Bullock's grave. In addition, we could linger in an area for quite awhile if we wanted to, looking around at names or contemplating someone's history and life.

Where to Next?

So where do you want to go on your next road trip?

Will it be sooner rather than later?

Our next road trip is next the beach!

© 2016 Cynthia Calhoun

More by this Author


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

It was fun to follow along with you on traveled through some country I just love and I'm jealous. :) Glad you are back, safe and sound, Lil Sis!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 months ago from California Gold Country

I love road trips, a pleasure inherited from my mom, I think. She always wanto to see something new and experience it first hand. It does broaden your thinking, perspective and experience

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Big Bro, hehe, you make me smile! Thank you so much for coming over! We need to get you on a road trip, too! But um...first you need a competent housesitter who knows what's what with quail eggs. ;)

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Rochelle - thanks for stopping by! I think road trips are such a great thing to do as a family. And yes, I agree: you get so much out of it. :) Have a wonderful day!

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 3 months ago from Oklahoma

I love road trips. My family and I get out every time money and schedule will allow.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 months ago from Northern California, USA

Growing up, my family took a road trip every year. We would talk about and plan the trip all year long and then begin the trip with a high level of anticipation. Still, with all that planning something would go wrong, but that just made it a "memory" we could inject into our next year of talking and planning. I truly enjoy road trips, especially because, like you said, they provide an opportunity to learn about our self.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 months ago from Massachusetts

What a great hub Cynthia. Definitely my kind of trip. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to your next adventure.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

BDegiulio - Hey! Thanks for comin' by! I definitely enjoy those road trips. :) I appreciate your feedback!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Marlene - I would have LOVED going on road trips every year! My parents had family that wasn't too far away - our forays on the road usually involved that, though we did take some memorable trips for sure! I love the anticipation of it. And yes, so many opportunities to learn. Thanks for your input! :)

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Larry - me, too! :D I hear ya! We're going to the beach tomorrow, but then we're going to try to do a winter road trip (to the southern part of the US). Thanks for coming by!

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I loved your pics on fb. What fantastic memories you will carry with you. Thanks for sharing with us!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Rebecca - Haha! Hey there! I'm so glad you liked them. It really was fun! I hope you're well, sweet friend! Hugs!

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 months ago from Orlando, FL

My next road trip is also to the beach, next week. Excellent tips and great advice, but I still do prefer the plane over the car, I am too hyper for sit still for so long.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 months ago from Western NC Author

Hey, Sunshine!! So good to see ya! I hope you have a great time at the beach. Haha, if I had a plane, I'd give it to ya: I'm a nervous wreck when it comes to planes. I know they're statistically safer...but my angst makes me just want to get the in the car. *giggle*

JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 2 months ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Due to my line of work, I always go on a road trip. But it is really different when you do it for work and when you do it for fun and adventure with the family. I wish I could bring my love ones all the time to make the trip more meaningful.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 2 months ago from Western NC Author

JPSO138 - I hear ya. When you do it all the time, I can see how it would lose an element of the "magic" that it would otherwise have. I have an idea! It seems the "opposite" would be true: a "staycation" might have a certain appeal then. :) Thank you for your comment!

teaches12345 2 months ago

My dream is to one day take a trip via RV. You have me thinking about it now after reading your thoughts on this topic. I always enjoy your writing!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 months ago from Arkansas, USA

Hey, girl! You wrote a new hub! We were just talking about this! I'm not much of a traveler, but I enjoy visiting these places vicariously through you! Deadwood sounds--and looks from the picture--super cool. I like neat old towns. I'm glad you wrote this. Write more travel hubs. I really enjoyed it! And the beach sounds great!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 2 months ago from Western NC Author

Dianna - aww, that's awesome! And you'll have to write about it. And thank you so much for your comments!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 2 months ago from Western NC Author

Vicki! Hey, sweet friend! I know, right? I really want to write more hubs. Gonna try to work them into my schedule. :) Not much of a traveler? You know...after the road trip, a retreat in June, and a final trip to the beach, I am all traveled-out, hehe. There's a big festival in town today (minutes from our house, actually) and I think I'm going to...stay home and write. :D

Deb Hirt 2 months ago

I am happy to see that you took this trip, both to commune with nature and to see some important landmarks. I also agree with the Lakota, as this lovely formation IS sacred and reverence to such an awe inspiring place is tantamount to the natural world. It pleased me immensely to see that nature agree with you, especially from my standpoint of why I try so hard to save it.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 months ago from Central Florida

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I used to go tent camping all the time. It's so easy to roll up a tent and carry it on a motorcycle while roaming through different countrysides. The camaraderie at the campgrounds is awesome. You meet so many people. Invariably someone has a guitar and everyone joins in . Such fun!

Love the photos of SD. I've never been there.

I look forward to your next road trip.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 8 weeks ago from Western NC Author

Deb - aww, yes! I absolutely love what you do to try to do your part to save it! And yes, the natural world. It's my escape. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. :)

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 8 weeks ago from Western NC Author

Bravewarrior - oh, Sha, it's so good to see you! Yes, I love the tent and yeah...carry it with you. I have been wanting to get better at guitar for this VERY thing. :) Hmm...I should really get that thing out again. :)

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 7 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

I once did a road trip across the United States. I got to know so many parts of the country that way. Just as you said, this is really the only way to see sections you've never seen before. Besides, it's impossible to see so much when you just take a plane and fly across the country.

I know what you mean about planning and the effort it takes. My trip was mainly for the purpose meeting clients along the way who I previously only knew from phone conversations. I had to plan a schedule to be able to tell each one when to expect me in their town.

You were more rugged then I was, since you camped out. I stayed in hotels along the way, but I still got to experience nature at its best. It's interesting how you spoke about relating to people along the way, because that's exactly what I was aware of as I mingled with locals in various restaurants.

By the way, I love your picture of the rainbow. It's great that you were able to catch that.

Your entire hub was so well written and entertaining, Cynthia, that I'm voting your hub for this year's Hubbie Awards for the WanderWisdom niche site.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 7 weeks ago from Western NC Author

Holy crap, Glenn - that's the best news I've seen all week and I'm very flattered you would even consider this hub for that. :)

As far as you doing a road trip, that all is so awesome. I bet you're still talking about that road trip with family and friends. That's what I love about them: the experience of it lasts, really, the rest of your life.

We'll always talk about how we camped out or how we met interesting people. And that rainbow? was incredible that just as we were driving into the Badlands, that showed up. Driving through that awful rainstorm was worth it! :D

In any case, thank you so, so much for the honors! I hope to repay the favor! Have a great evening.

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