The Unromantic Road Trip

In both film and book, life on the road is glorified as an iconic, life-affirming experience. Read any extract of Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ to get an idea of how much he hailed the freedom of the driving experience. And, he’s not alone. Artists across the world have tried to capture the power of the open road. Is it any wonder, then, that a summer road trip is high on most people’s to-do list?
Many of us set out with high hopes that we’ll return changed too.

Now, we don’t want to rain on your road-trip parade. No one can deny that life on the road can open your eyes to a new way of being. There is, after all, something meditative about driving. But, there’s also no denying that many return from road trips disappointed. In truth, life on the road just isn’t as amazing as some would have us believe. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy your time. But, it might help to lower your expectations before you head off. For example, here are some downsides you might not have considered.


Many of us opt for a close to home road trip because we assume it’ll be cheaper than going abroad. If that’s your motivation, prepare to be disappointed. For one, you’ll need a complete check on your vehicle before you set off. To avoid breakdowns, you’ll need a complete oil change and a full tank. If you want to cut costs, something like these oil change deals will help. But, you’ll still have to part with some cash to get your vehicle up to standard.

That’s not the only cost, either. You’ll also need to consider where you’ll sleep. Depending on how long you’re away for, those motel costs will add up. And, while sleeping in the car may seem glamorous, you’ll soon change your mind after one night. Might be worth taking a tent with you!


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We may have sat nav nowadays, but it’s still possible you’ll get lost. Nothing kills that sense of adventure quite like not knowing where you are. This can be particularly stressful if you have certain places to be or bookings in hotels along the way. If you’re tempted to head off with little planning, don’t do it. Plan your route as extensively as possible before you go. And, make sure to take a map along with you. Sometimes, the old fashioned ways are best.


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And, don’t be surprised if the roads are lacking in that beauty you’ve been expecting. There’s no denying that there are some beautiful roads out there, but most are uninspiring. If you’re traveling across states, the chances are you’ll be driving long, gray strips with nothing going for them. If beautiful drives are what you’re after, you may want to opt instead for the longer country routes. Or, you could accept the lack of beauty, and stop off at pretty places along the way.

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