My generation, I guess I would be considered a millennial so the current 16-25 year olds, have cultivated a unique sense of open mindedness and adventure. We have been known to act impulsively, we just pick up and go. We abandon austerity for more exciting waters and in that process we have perfected the art of travel. Well in many ways I am a product of my environment and while I may be broke, I have some damn good stories so who really wins here… Oh god I’m broke. Moving on, some people like to fly to exotic lands, well I and many like me fall into a different category, we love the art of the road trip.
I have driven all over this country, I’ve seen almost every state in the continental US and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it offers you more than you could ever dream of taking in. The road trip is not unique to this generation, in fact if you’re interested in some mid-adventure inspiration I suggest picking up a copy of Kerouac’s On The Road, a look at the “beatnik” take on road tripping. Reading that book made the miles go quicker and gave me a different perspective with which to consider all the things I was seeing.
A road trip doesn’t need to be a pan-American pilgrimage but there is a special feeling to watching that odometer click up higher and higher by a factor of thousands. And with each new set of miles, there needs to be a new set of expectations. You can’t go to New Orleans anticipating the same experience as Seattle. Each city is a cultural snapshot, take in the cajun food and Southern hospitality, and of course the French Quarter one day, and the next when you’re in a new town start from scratch. I’m not saying do all the touristy shit you possibly can, but go into a city with a bit of an understanding of the cultural landscape and mold your expectations accordingly.
Maybe the city isn’t your thing, you want to see nature, parks, animals, you want to eat granola and listen to Phish, all that cool stuff. Well luckily for you road tripping through national parks is a well walked path and the quiet solitude found in the grandness of some of these natural wonders can be borderline spiritual. My biggest tip I can offer here is to Get Caught Up In The Moment. Experiencing the Grand Canyon is an actively passive experience. Allow yourself to slip away into the existential fog that comes from being something so young and small beside something so incomprehensibly old and massive.
From the Sequoias of Yosemite to the hot springs of Yellowstone to the concrete behemoths of New York City, there are unbelievable natural and man made marvels to experience. You can walk streets, climb mountains, or swim in Oceans really you can do it all. And while these things are indeed worth traveling great distances for, it is the process of traveling that really brings some of the best memories. Whether it is with a friend, a loved one, or simply on your own, take in the things around you because some of America’s best sights can be seen from the road, and that road can take you any direction you want.