This past weekend, my husband and I dropped my bonus (step) son off at college in Montana. The drive from Chicago to Montana was about 21 hours. We decided to make it a thing and on the way back we drove through Yellowstone National Park and we viewed the Solar Eclipse in totality in Idaho. This added additional time to our schedule and we ended up being in the car traveling home and taking the scene route for 36+ hours total!
I love travel in all forms, but I am particularly fond of road trips because they allow you to get off the grid, truly connect with the people you travel with and see beautiful parts of the country. I wanted to share some reflections on things I learned from this trip:
- Sometimes when you’re at high altitudes you have to slow down. The curves are sharper and the fall is more deadly. Sometimes we think that as we start to achieve our goals and live the life of our dreams that all of our problems will magically disappear. Puff said it best, “I don’t know what/they want from me it’s like/the more money we come across/ the more problems we see.” In my experience the more successful we become, the higher the stakes.
2. A “hello” and a “smile” ease and dispel fears. America is full of tension right now and we could definitely feel that as we traveled through small and rural towns. What I understand is that people fear the unfamiliar. We spoke and smiled at every place we entered, and were filled with a sense of calm and comfort when people spoke and smiled at us.
3. A Walmart is the Sign that your town is on the map. Before dropping Solomon off to school the first thing we checked was where was the nearest Walmart, and where was the nearest Target. Both were in walking distance and both alerted us that Solomon would be totally find because he access whatever he needed.
4. Deers like to come watch humans at night. While in Montana, I counted over 100 deer and most of them were on the side of the road. Either that is the best tasting grass, or they enjoy watching us, just as much as we enjoy watching them.
5.Rest stops have the best bathrooms. Restaurant and Gas Station bathrooms weren’t always the best. The rest stop bathrooms were incredible and it’s easier to pull off the side of the road, run into the rest stop and keep it moving.
6. GPS still works, even when you have no cell service or wifi. When we were in the mountains our phones were not receiving any service. The great news is that once you put in a destination, even when the internet or service goes out the GPS still works! I was so thankful for this! Google Maps can literally get you where you need to be, with amazing service…. or none!
7. Always take the scenic route. It will be exactly what you need, when you need it. Nature feeds my soul. I enjoy living that big city life, but there is nothing that substitutes some good clean air, a beautiful body of water and greenery!
8. Whenever you get too tired, pull over and take a nap. Sometimes we work ourselves to exhaustion – endangering ourselves and the people we come in contact with. Literally and figuratively, don’t be afraid to push the pause button. Nothing is worth risking your life and your wellbeing.
9. Curate your snacks wisely! They may become your meals. When I’m on road trips I prefer not to stop. So when I purchase snacks I try to purchase things that “keep” or are non-perishable and that can work at different times per day. A few weeks ago I went on a trip with some friends to Atlanta and our road trip food became our meal when we had a microwave in our hotel room. Most of the restaurants were closed and we were too exhausted to leave the room.
10. Get gas when you can, and try not to go below half a tank because you never know when the next gas station is coming. This is another lesson that is both literal and figurative. “Fill up your tank.” Do things that inspire you and that give you life throughout this journey of life. Don’t wait until you get sick or have a nervous breakdown to take some time for yourself. Don’t wait until life forces you to “fill up.”
I’m always game for road trips because I welcome the time to be alone with my thoughts and to slow down the pace of my life. I hope these lessons from the road are as helpful for you as they were for me to experience!