The Case for the American Road Trip

Andrew_McCarthy
Andrew McCarthy’s book, “The Longest Way Home,” is one of my favorites by a travel writer.

A few years ago, I read Andrew McCarthy’s piece entitled U.S. Road Trips: Into the Heart of America, and I couldn’t agree with him more about getting into your car and going. He begins the piece with this sentence:

There’s nothing wrong that a hundred bucks and a full tank of gas can’t fix.

I heartily agree, Mr. McCarthy.

One of the most special things about taking road trips, in my humble opinion, is not just getting there and seeing what you want to see, but also the ability to get lost and see what you didn’t expect to see. That’s it in a nutshell. Sometimes the best surprises, or those things that have the most impact or create the best memories, are the things you didn’t expect to stumble upon.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.00.35 PM
Gotta love a hidden treasure with great prices and delicious food.

Take, for example, Mariachi’s restaurant, in Manning, South Carolina. My family and I set out for Savannah, Georgia, last year before we vacationed in Hilton Head. As we were driving, we all became hungry, and we stumbled upon this hidden gem of a restaurant off of I-95. You can get a dinner special for $3.99 all the way up until 4 p.m. I mean, that is a crazy deal! We don’t have many places that have prices like that in Maryland. Anyway, this place gave us lots of laughs and we were all shocked at the amount of food for the price, not to mention it was some good Mexican food. So what did we do this year when we headed south? We stopped at Mariachi’s. You see? We made some memories there.

Road trips also allow you to take a wrong turn and run into a beautiful street, waterfront property, wooded area, or a little pleasant picnic area or park. Road trips offer you choices: you can stop, get your butt out of the car and see what you’ve encountered, or you can drive right through it. The best part about this decision making is that you’re at the wheel and the choices are yours.

Life is all about choices, after all, isn’t it?

I love finding hidden gems, and sometimes, as we’ve done for last few vacations, we’ve tied into the trip a visit to a small town I’ve read about over the years in travel magazines. What good is reading about a place if you don’t get off your duff and go see it?

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.03.29 PM
Bumped into this gem in Beaufort, SC.

Road trips allow you imaginative freedom that we all need sometimes from work, from responsibilities, and from life in general. Roll down the windows, put your favorite music on, and allow the road to guide you.

You just may be delighted by what you discover.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.