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10 Reasons Road Trips are Good For You

The benefits of going on a Road Trip

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First published: 20.Nov.2023


The open road is enticing, it offers a break from daily routine, unexpected sceneries and adventure. It is an opportunity to live a fuller life and forge unforgettable memories. Whether yo do it solo, with pals, partner, or family, a road trip is an invitation to break free from stress, boredom and your day to day chores.

If you are wondering why you should go on a road trip, and why people embark on them, below we list ten good reasons for taking one:

All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road. Jack Kerouac (1957), On The Road

In this Article (Index)

snowcapped steep mountains in Patagonia, seen from the highway leading to them in the steppe, cloudy sky
Mount Fitz Roy, Patagonia. Source

1. Get Away From Stress

Taking a road trip opens the door to a stress-free adventure, it lets you drive away from your routine, the pressure of deadlines and boring tasks.

Grabbing the wheel and driving off on a road trip is liberating and stress relieving. It helps restore some calm to your life by leaving behind stress-causing factors.

Daily life is highly structured, and the pressure of your job causes stress; and a road trip lets you take a break from it, opening up a whole new world where you can reconnect with yourself. Driving into the unknown along a highway helps declutter the mind.

Tip: Before you embark on your trip, tidy up your business befor you go so it doesn't nag your mind while you are on the road, and leave.

Disconnect to clear your mind

Disconnect to Reconnect

When you take a road trip, you drive into new sceneries and new experiences; your mind can wander looking at the horizon and soothe your thoughts.

On the road, the fresh air, the songs on your playlist and chatting with your travel companions all come together to help you forget about the pressure back at work.

Living the moment, taking in the views, experiencing nature, meeting people, leaving your normal settings and getting out into the open space are great aids to help you disconnect.

As you drive, feel your worries fade away, enjoy the sense of feeling free. A road trip is a healing experience.

sea shore and blue ocean seen from the window of a vintage green color car on a highway

2. Inner Growth

Travel takes you out of your routine and puts you in new places and situations you hadn't imagined. Going on a road trip is a not about ticking off a bucket list of destinations, it is actually a journey of self-discovery. It opens your mind and promotes inner growth.

Travel lets you switch off the autopilot and you become more mindful, you experience more and you change in a positive way. Mark Twain wrote abot this back in 1869:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. Mark Twain (1869), The Innocents Abroad

Travel nourishes your inner self, you live new experiences, live the moment. You stand in awe at the power of nature, you share time and feelings with friends, family, bonding, making memories and this gives you a new perspective on life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a phrase in 1841, that is always misquoted as follows: "Life is a Journey not a destination"; actually Emerson's thought is much deeper; he wrote:

To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience, Complete Works

Emerson is right, a journey is savoring every step of the way, a Road Trip is a not only a trip by car along a highway, it is a journey of self discovery that promotes inner growth.

3. Travel gives you new eyes

Proust aptly described the eye-opening power of travel:

Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust, 1923, La Prisonnière, Vol V of In Search of Lost Time

When you travel you look upon the world with new eyes. You are in an apt state of mind, one of discovery, exploration, adventure. The move from the normal comfort zone of your home to a nomad life of a road tripper opens your eyes and your mind wider.

Not only do you see new places, you also meet new people, taste new food, smell new aromas in the wind, relax and enjoy the sun setting in the distance. This stimuli give you a new point of view, a different angle to look at your life in general. Travel and road trips open your mind's eye to the beauty and joy of life.

4. Add Flexibility and Spontaneity to Your Life

Our lives are governed by our daily chores; our agenda organizes what we do; meetings, job, lunch, doctor's appointment, gym... everything is tightly scheduled.

We need to be efficient to fit all our daily tasks into our waking hours, our life is structured, and inflexible.

However, a road trip lets you be more spontaneous; it isn't an organized tour with a fixed itinerary and strict timetables, it is a flexible journey that follows your whims and spur of the moment choices.

On a road trip you can stop and spend the night wherever you want to, or you can drive to the next town, you can stay a couple of days somewhere, or move on quickly. Life is flexible, unstructured, it lets you choose and be spontaneous.

But, how much should you plan?

Some people like to have a very detailed road trip plan specifying where they'll stop, what senic or historic sights they will see, and which hotels they will stay at. This is perhaps a good idea if you have a tight schedule, so that you can optimize your trip, it let's you focus on the journey and keeps you from worrying about details.

Other travelers, especially those with more time on their hands, prefer an open plan, and they let the highway take them to unexpected destinations. This type of journey is an adventure and can give you great satisfactions and surprises.

A middle-of-the-road approach is to outline a general broad idea of your road trip, and then book key accommodations in places where it may be difficult to find a room. It is an open plan trip where you can leave room for unexpected scenic spots that may surprise you along the way.

Being flexible is what makes the trip more enjoyable, it allows you to explore more, change your plans, be impulsive, and have plenty of fun.

Keep an open mind

The unexpected is just one turn away, let the road trip take you to places you hadn't imagined.

If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail. Heraclitus

young couple dance by their van with paper cups in their hands on the road next to a lake

5. Bonding with your travel companions

Travel, especially when you embark on a road trip, is a shared experience. Your friends and family and you are all together inside a car for hours, and you can't help but getting to know each other better.

Bonding is building connections, and the time spend together during a road trip is a unique opportunity to do so.

Nowadays it isn't easy to spend quality time with friends or family; Our busy lives tie us up and don't leave room for spare time with loved ones.

But a road trip gives us hours of free time during which we cant talk, listen, share experiences, remember the good old days, reminiscensing about past road trips with them.

A road trip gives you the chance to catch up with friends and family and to share new experiences.

People don't take trips, trips take people. John Steinbeck, 1962, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

6. Travel is Good For Your Health

Travel in general is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. Chen, Chun-Chu & Petrick, James. (2013) (1) showed that traveling has health benefits such as decreasing the risk of heart disease.

It also has an effect on mental health: people feel happier before, during and after taking a vacation.

The benefits of travel begin with the "Anticipation Stage" as you plan a trip; this is an activity that creates positive expectations. During the trip, the "Beneficial Stage" begins, and it causes positive trip reflections that lead to "Happiness... Life Satisfaction... Stress Relief."

Chen and Petrick report that people often feel that they are healthier after a vacation. Vacation satisfaction and joyful experiences reduce exhaustion and boost not only life satisfaction, but also provide a subjective feeling of well-being.

7. Make Unforgettable Memories

I recently embarked on a 1,400 mile-long road trip with my Mom, who is eighty-eight years old, my brother, and my wife. We went to visit my sister who lived in another state and decided to drive instead of flying, just for the fun of it.

Our trip took us along highways we hadn't driven along together for nearly 50 years. It was an adventure for the four of us, and proof that memories made during road trips last for a lifetime.

By chance we stopped at a gas station with a restaurant where my brother and I had met, also by chance, 23 years ago. His daughter was a baby at that time, and his son was on his way, though they didn't know it. We reminisced about the good old days while we had a cup of coffee with my wife and mother.

As we drove on, we remembered road trips we'd taken fifty years ago with Dad at the wheel of our 1960s Valiant, the places we stopped at, the dust, the hot wind blowing in through the vent windows while the old AM radio played. Nostalgia and warm memories flowed while as shared quality time on the road.

Stopping at a roadside motel also stirred old memories of motels we'd stayed at as kids. My Mom was thrilled, and enjoyed the adventure.

I know deep inside of me that I will remember this trip for the rest of my life!

The best things about memories is making them. Unknown

8. Visit New Places

The world is great, and when you fly, you don't grasp its immensity. Driving on the other hand puts it all in perspective. You get the feel of what one-hundred or one-thousand miles actually are.

The world is also beatiful, full of natural and man-made wonders. So leaving home and hitting the road has the added bonus of experiencing new places.

There are so many amazing sights out there, you will come across places you never even imagined you'd see.

Tip: Ask the locals, they know the well kept secret spots. A few years ago, in Utah, my wife and I stopped for a coffee in Escalante, and the owner, seeing me study my Rand McNally Road Atlas came over and marked some spots we should visit. We followed his advice and enjoyed some great scenic spots. We also avoided Greeen River "mosquito infested" he'd said, and stopped furhter ahead at Moab, another amazing place with the fantastic Arches National Park.

Find those hidden gems, take that unexpected turn onto a local road and you will experience America's beauty.

And don't forget, the Health Benefits of Being Outdoors.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. Saint Augustine

9. Meet New People, Socialize

Going on a road trip puts you in contact with a whole range of new people, who live different lives compared to yours.

Having breakfast in a cafe in Pinedale Wyoming, my wife and I struck up a conversation with the locals while we ate our bacon and eggs. Chatting we learned about the ranches in the mountains, and horse breeding; it was fascinating.

In Beijing, China, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning drinking wine and talking to a group of Aussies that felt like old friends.

Different values, culture, food and flavors, and learning about the local history enriches you and is part of the fun of a road trip. It adds value to your trip, and enriches you.

It also has health benefits as shown by a study conducted by Wang, Zheng et al., (2023) (2) that found that "frequent participation in social activity was significantly associated with prolonged overall survival in older people [and] only participating in social activity almost every day could significantly prolong long-term survival."

The people you meet on your travels are like chapters in the story of your journey.

10. Just because!

Perhaps the best reason for taking a road trip is that it is fun! A trip is a great excuse to enjoy life, have fun, laugh, share quality time with those you love, sing the songs in your playlist, and do unexpected things.

We live in a society that places a high value on success so we work hard and dedicate many hours every day to be productive and successful. Perhaps too many hours!

But in doing so we forget about having fun. Being competitive at work may be necessary, but having fun is equally inmportant. A road trip gives you the chance to get out on the road and start having fun.

Pressman et al, (2009) (3) analyzed data from four different studies involving almost 1,400 participants and evaluated the effects of enjoyable activities ("ten different types of leisure activities") on their mental states and also on physiological indicators such as blood pressure, cortisol, body mass index, and waist circumference. They found that those with higher scores in the Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test showed higer levels of positive psychosocial states, and less depression or negative feelings. They also had lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index.

So, having fun improves health and well-being.

References and Further Reading

(1) Chen, Chun-Chu & Petrick, James. (2013). Health and Wellness Benefits of Travel Experiences A Literature Review. Journal of Travel Research. 52. 709-719. 10.1177/0047287513496477.

(2) Wang Z, Zheng Y, Ruan H, et al. (2023). Association between social activity frequency and overall survival in older people: results from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). J Epidemiol Community Health 2023;77:277-284

(3) Pressman SD, Matthews KA, Cohen S, Martire LM, Scheier M, Baum A, Schulz R. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosom Med. 2009 Sep;71(7):725-32. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978. Epub 2009 Jul 10. PMID: 19592515

About this Article

Ten reasons road trips are good for you, A. Whittall

©2023, 20 Nov. 2023. Update scheduled for 20 Nov. 2025.

Tags: travel, outdoors, health, wellness

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