Tuesday, April 15, 2008
A road trip is often more about the journey itself rather than it is about the destination.
As a child, I learned to appreciate the joys of traveling by car. My father hates to fly (with "hate" actually being a euphemism for "absolutely terrified"), so any place we would go to as a family would have to be accessible by land. So while I've had my share of plane rides growing up, I find that I still have a soft spot for long drives to distant places.
Despite the butt-numbing, leg-cramp-inducing torture of an hours-long drive, I'm convinced that it's still a great way to travel.
I've never actually driven farther than Batangas myself, but I have been on several long-haul trips with friends in recent years. The summer after internship, my blockmates and I made the grueling 13-hour trip to Ilocandia by bus. Once already there, we set about to exploring the territory with borrowed vehicles, guided by two friends native to the region. The time-consuming drives were definitely made faster by the great company and lots of laughter. Travel by car is, hands down, great bonding time.
While quality time with friends and family is a great reason to travel by car, for me the best thing about traveling by road is discovering places you never would have found otherwise. On one of my most memorable road trips ever, my uncle rented a mobile home and took my cousins, siblings, and me on an unforgettable, meandering drive from Aachen, Germany all the way south to Rome, Italy - with a stop at Pisa, Florence, and Paris along the way. We would park from camping ground to camping ground - all located in remote, unknown pockets of beauty in the European countryside.
When people ask me about that summer trip to Europe, they marvel at our unconventional itinerary - because despite being there a month, we weren't able to hit all the "must-see places." But I'm pretty sure that people who do "the grand tour" to cover all the highlights have not been treated to the gorgeous sight of Tuscany countryside in the early spring; or the breathtaking view of a medieval castle on top of a verdant mountain, its spires rising above the mist. That trip was, without a doubt, an awesome experience I would love to relive again.
Any long-distance trip by car requires a good deal of patience and eyes on the goal. It also requires a healthy sense of humor - most needed when faced with the inevitable mishaps that crop up along the way, given the lengthy travel time and the many factors out of one's control. The best way to enjoy any road trip is to simply embrace every experience, making every one taken a life lesson in itself.
As I look back at my career as a budding wanderlust, I find that when armed with great company, the right attitude,and an openness to take detours along the way, going by open road can be the best way to see the world. And - at the expense of mixing my metaphors - when you choose to take the journey, finding yourself at a destination well-worth the trip ends up as merely icing on a really amazing cake.
So what are you waiting for? Gear up, tune your cars, and get going!
For the 5th edition of TBR - "I know what you did last summer" at Doc Ness' place.