Road trips are great. I have absolutely no reference whatsoever to back this up, but I believe road trips to be a 100% American activity. I know I’m wrong. I don’t really care. Hitting the open road in a car and speeding towards a far off destination screams Stars and Stripes. Cars. Check. Eisenhower Interstate Road System. Check. A sense of entitlement and ownership to the roads. Check.
I recently took a quick three-day trip back to my Chicagoland homeland to see my parents. (We’ll talk about the absurdity of the word ‘Chicagoland’ in another post.) It’s a destination close enough to my current home that I can make it in about half a day. Not an epic road trip for sure. But string all the driving over a 3-day period and now we’re getting somewhere.
The real reason I love driving distances like this is that I love the idea of shared experiences. It’s the same reason I revel in dining out at restaurants and sharing meals with others. I particularly like restaurants with set menus. The snooty ones that don’t let you order a la carte. The ones that force you to eat whatever the chef feels like cooking up that day. I like them because they force every diner to eat the same thing, making discussion of the food inevitable. The meal naturally and organically becomes part of the conversation.
A similar phenomena happens on a road trip. You’re forced to share the same experience, to see the same things, with everyone in the car. You also get the runner up prize of sharing a similar experience with everyone that has ever driven on that road. Pretty cool, right? It gives entire classes of people that should have nothing in common…something in comment. It’s the great leveler. From the CEO’s to families to truckers to drug mules, if you have to drive somewhere, you’re sharing the open road.
Sure, you can skip the drive all together by throwing money at your trip. But not even the glitterati are flying everywhere all the time. At one point or another, we all have to take a road trip back to Chicagoland. And we’re all better off for it.