It's been so wonderful to return to New York City after thirteen months of leaving home, nine of which were spent on the road exploring the USA. One of the best things about coming back is reconnecting with friends who have asked many inquisitive questions about our experience on the road. Below is a list of the top 10 road trip myths that most of the people who heard our story seem to have in common.
Myths vs Facts:
"People in red states don't wear masks". This is completely untrue and quite frankly irresponsible misinformation by the media. We witnessed firsthand that people in "blue" cities like Asheville, NC were mostly unmasked, even at the start of the pandemic, while residents of "red" states, like Texas, had most of its folks' faces covered. People simply work within their personal comfort zones despite their political points of view. As much as the media is trying to pin people against one another based on politics, it just isn't true. This realization is probably one of the most shocking ones of our travels throughout the country. Seeing is believing, and I don't mean what you see on the news.
"RV's are the preferred road trip means of transportation". You don't need to drive around in an RV to take a proper road trip. Although there is an exciting element to traveling this way, it's not for everyone. A road trip can be as glamorous or off the grid as you want it to be. We chose to stay in well-appointed Airbnbs while on the road but we do have dreams of one day driving through parts of the country in a Winnebago. This time around we needed our children to have solid Internet connectivity for remote schooling as well as their own bedrooms to have the space for their zoom meetings. Under other circumstances, we may have picked different accommodations. What I hear most from people is that they can't imagine traveling in an RV for long periods of time. Well, you don't have to!
"Scary rednecks lurk the highways waiting to abduct you". You're unlikely to cross paths with toothless, armed rednecks threatening your safety. People are (mostly) normal, kind, and helpful. Through all our stops in many random gas stations in remote parts of the country, we never felt as if we stood out or were in any jeopardy. Leave the dramatization to Hollywood executives and don't let these imageries deter you from exploring the roads. Some of my best memories are from those very moments I interacted and locked eyes with people with deep, southern drawls who live a life completely different than the one I am accustomed to. Get to know people outside of their society-imposed titles and stereotypes. They'll surprise you.
"It's dangerous to travel during Covid". While on the road we often felt like we were chasing Corona. We always seemed to be heading to the very places that had spiking cases. Yet, we were able to travel through the states safely by wearing our masks, social distancing, spending time outdoors as much as possible, and staying away from crowded areas. See my post on "How to Travel Safely During the Pandemic". It is totally possible to travel during a pandemic if you use your common sense.
"Taking a road trip with kids is difficult". There is no way I would have ever enjoyed this road trip as much as I did without my children. Not only are children more adaptable and resilient than we give them credit for, but they also exude a sense of wonder and freedom which are perfect qualities in your road trip mates. Children approach situations with a different lens than the jaded ones adults often wear. They are honest and blunt. They are funny. They are adventurous. Unless your children are especially difficult, bringing your kids along will only enhance your journey.
"You need special gear for a road trip." The only special equipment that we specifically purchased for our time on the road was: a first aid kit, travel johns, and chains for our tires during winter travels (which luckily we ended up not needing and were able to return them). Again, the kind of gear that you will need will depend on the type of trip you will plan. However, you do not necessarily need any special gear for your road trip travels throughout the USA.
"An epic road trip must be epically expensive". Again, there is no one formula, or price point, for a long road trip adventure. Those who choose to pitch tents in National Parks throughout the country will have a very different budget than those who prefer to sleep in five-star hotels along the way.
"A good road trip requires too much planning". Yes, there is planning that needs to go into a successful road trip. You'll want to plan your next stop, where you will sleep, as well as which sites you will visit. Keep in mind though, the entirety of your trip does not, and probably should not, be planned at the onset. Don't get overwhelmed by the planning. Just plan one destination at a time. This will also allow you to move more fluidly without being bogged down by any advanced bookings.
"You're likely to go crazy in a car for long periods of time". We thought this would happen to us as well. During our first stretches, we uploaded podcasts and audiobooks to get us through the many hours of driving. Miraculously, after driving through a few lengthy stretches, long drives on the road became easier and easier. We no longer needed the support of entertainment that we once relied on. In fact, nowadays, a four-hour drive is truly a piece of cake, one that we would take even for a great day trip.
"Land and resources are scarce". Well, this is not one that came up in the context of our conversations around our road trip. However, it is a common feeling shared by many in the country and world. There is a sense that there isn't enough land, water, food, resources, etc... Countries go into war over this notion. People are killed for these things. I am here to tell you that there is an abundance of land and resources in the United States of America. There is so much unused land, like infinite amounts of it. There are thousands of oil rigs, endless farmland, and countless pristine lakes, rivers, and streams. What we need to do is start practicing gratitude for this ample abundance rather than convince ourselves that this plentitude does not exist. Take care of our earth, it is unbelievably loyal to the very humans who often overlook how good it is to us.
So, these are my responses to your most common questions. Have any others? Shoot me a message and I'd be happy to answer them for you! More importantly, start planning your road trip asap!