“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anaïs Nin
I have this thing about road trips. I adore them, can’t get enough of them. Not that I don’t appreciate airplane travel, but there is something special about those long, lazy car rides to somewhere. I love having all the experiences that can only happen on the road.
My mom and I are consummate road trippers. I can’t even begin to count the numerous roads we have traveled, the laughter, he unmistakable finds of being “lost,” and the endless PB sandwiches made on our laps while cruising the highways. Though no longer quite as adventurous, my mom and I still love to hit the road, taking my daughter along to pass the torch. No longer OK with the roadside motels, we now stay in more luxe accommodations. There’s something exciting and wonderful about the experience of arriving somewhere, and in understanding exactly what it took to get there, wherever “there” happens to be. Some of our best road trips were the unplanned, fly by the seat of our pants with only a final destination ahead in the far off summer weeks. There’s something about exploring the winding roads of the country that intrigues us. Forgotten flea markets, local people and the things you may just have missed by taking the direct highway route. It is all of these experiences that keep the mind fresh and life interesting.
So I have come to the conclusion, that life itself is like one of those grand road trips. All the secrets to successful road trips, are the same as the secrets to a successful, happy life. Read on my lovelies for my theory.
First things first – be prepared. On the road, you make sure the gas tank is full, used to be a bag of change for the phone booth, but now it’s about having a charger for the cell phone, some clean clothes, water and snacks and a very large sense of adventure. In traveling through life, the same applies. Plan for your basic needs, food, water, shelter (in light of the past week’s weather here in Florida- all good advice) and be ready to anticipate the unexpected. (Here lies the Florida Hurricane Season) Have a little cash on hand for emergencies, strong connections with your loved ones and those neighbors who will be there to help out if push comes to shove. Be that person for others. Make sure you have the skills you need – on the road it’s map reading (GPS is pretty new) and boundary setting. In life, it’s about those boundaries and being assertive when you need to be.
judge. Traveling the roads requires an open mind. You may meet people you never thought existed, except for in novels. My mom and I have met a lovely docent in Colonial Williamsburg. We’ve spoken with her on several trips in the past few years. She not only holds a PhD in history, dresses the part and talks about the politics of then and now, but is also a Civil War Re-enactor (or whatever it’s called) To really engage with people, you need to check your judgement at the door. It opens up a whole new world for you. In life, we need to be compassionate to ourselves, and understand that if we feel judgmental that maybe we need to check our own inner politics.
Next, let’s talk about flexibility. On the road, anything can happen. Sometimes, this is a good thing, like when you take that wrong turn and find an awesome coffee joint. (You knew I couldn’t let that pass) It’s critical on road trips to realize that things don’t always go as planned. For instance, the 6-hour drive from Georgia to the Smoky Mountains can become over 10 hours due to a flipped car and three blocked lanes of traffic for 8 miles of highway. This leads to driving the narrow, winding mountain roads in the dark in a thunderstorm, and backing the car into a ditch. True story- and thanks to Cap, the nice tow truck driver who came up the rainy mountain roads to save us. My grandfather used to say, “man proposes, God disposes.” It usually meant that whatever we planned, including road trips, we needed to be flexible. In life, cultivating an open mind and heart helps us to remain flexible and to deal with whatever adversity comes our way. Stay flexible and open, and let the experiences of a lifetime in.
Learn to want to be where you are- right here, right now. Road trips, in my opinion, are all about being open to new experiences, not just getting from point A to point B. Toss your timed schedule out the window, and just drive. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway, not because it was shorter, but because we wanted to enjoy nature’s majesty. And it was breathtaking. No regrets on the extra few hours, with the exception of a much needed, long overdue rest stop. Life, like the road trip should not be about getting to the next place. It’s great to have goals, and to pursue them, but we all need to be mindful of the place we are right now. Cultivate an acceptance of where you are, and know that life happens now. You’ll eventually get to the next place.
So, now that I’ve mentioned mindfulness my friends, the key is to pay attention. On the road you need to be present, because that gorgeous landscape can pass you by in a second. There’s a flowing sense of movement- go with it, and experience everything your senses can feel and see. How does this translate to life? Let the good things happen. Pay attention to the little things, and you will feel more relaxed, more in control, and happier.
Lastly, have a sense of humor. Honestly, when the car was stuck in the ditch, blocking the one lane of mountain road and the rain was pouring down – it wasn’t funny. But now, after the event, we can all laugh. We snicker at the memory of the dripping wet hair and lugging the bags from the car to the cabin, at the thoughts that we would be stranded up the mountain for days, and my mom’s fear of grizzlies. We gained memories. In life, even in the worst possible moments, we have to remember that this too shall pass. Laughter releases chemicals in the body that help us heal, physically and mentally.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕