“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” This quote from Muriel Strode has been interpreted in many ways over the years. While this is a metaphor for individuality, if taken literally, it is great advice for taking a road trip—rather than viewing them as tedious, or just a means to a destination, tailor your trip to your personal preferences. With the right planning and attitude, being on the road can be rewarding for mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Plans and Preparations
The first step to having a smooth and gratifying behavior is planning. Creating a guideline for your trip will ease many anxieties. You should have a general idea of where you are going and how long it will take you to get there. Have a plan as far as driving goes–splitting up that responsibility will keep everyone more relaxed, so communicate with your fellow travellers. Speaking of driving, make sure you’re taking the right kind of vehicle. While your city car may suffice for a weekend getaway to the next town over with your significant other, some trips will require a bigger vehicle that’s built to handle various terrain and inclement weather, like a truck or SUV. Make sure you bring snacks for the road, a first aid kit, and basic tools. If you have kids, bring games or books to entertain them—being prepared for unexpected situations takes a lot of the stress out of traveling.
People enjoy traveling, but why is it such a popular hobby when it can be stressful? The answer is easy–traveling has many mental health benefits. Not only does it help with production of cerebral chemicals that make you happy, but the variety of experiences you can have on your journey have benefits of their own. Spending time with others brings you closer, and problem solving with any mishaps on the way can be viewed as a team building experience. Depending on where you travel, you can experience different cultures, expanding your worldview and understanding of others. People also find that being in nature makes them feel peaceful and happy–being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is very soothing. If you have the time, there are also tons of things to do that will release endorphins and make you happy – hiking, diving, theme parks, or even escape rooms.
Being on a road trip also gives you plenty of time for self-reflection. Putting yourself in various situations allows you to evaluate your behavior – how you react to stress, your interpersonal relationships, and learning style. You’ll also be able to assess which aspects of your trip you did and didn’t like – enabling you to optimize your future experiences. So now, the only question is where will you go?