Diverse Journeys: Road Trips

Image Credit: Charlize Du Preez

Killian Conyngham ponders just what it is he loves about a road trip so much.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve always felt a bit of disdain for cars. As a kid I convinced myself that they made me feel nauseous, and now that I cycle everywhere I tend to see them as giant death machines. I am currently getting my driver’s license though, for one reason and one reason only, and it’s not my parents pestering me. It’s that I absolutely love road trips. I always have. There is just something about them. Something special.

Maybe it’s that they remind me of my childhood. Of fighting with my siblings over who’s turn it was on the DS, even though we all knew it would give us a headache. Of being brought to places whose beauty was well beyond my childhood comprehension, and just being happy to have an opportunity to run around and stretch my legs. Maybe too it’s the cultural significance road trips have carved out. To the point where it is hard not to imagine the soundtrack of some cheesy American movie, as you watch landscapes shooting out the window. Or maybe it is that they fulfill some fundamental human desire to be on the move. To be going somewhere. To have a destination, and to watch as with each passing minute the distance left to melt away. I can’t say exactly what it is that makes them so special, but I do know I am a massive fan, and I can say with anecdotal certainty that I am far from alone.

Of course, it’s not hard for a road trip to turn sour. Cramped legs, missed turns, hours together and the driver having to do strenuous activity while the rest of the car mostly just sit around can all be a quick recipe for some of the most pointlessly involved arguments you can imagine. This is precisely why it is paramount that all that can possibly be done, is done to maintain a good mood. The person riding shotgun should be awake, enthusiastic, and willing to take on the all important dual roles of DJ and navigator. The music should be quality and agreeable enough to all, especially the driver. And most importantly, the road trip mentality should be present in everyone involved.

Because the beauty of a road trip really is in the mindset. It is, as much as I hate to repeat the propaganda of the Ford motor company, the feeling that you truly can go anywhere. The call of the open road that you know stretches off into the horizon past an infinity of possible experiences. The joy of pulling in for random roadside attractions, bizarre, desolate petrol stations and just because you liked the look of a rock. The exhilaration of arriving at hotels, hostels, campsites and motels and asking for a room, each rejection increasing the volume of ‘let’s just sleep in the car’ jokes. The beauty of early morning sunrises and late night sunsets that grace your windscreen. The sense of awe, as you look back at a map of where you’ve been, and realise the world isn’t all that massive of a place after all. And overall, it’s just a heap of fun.