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Adventure will always be in my bones. If I ignore it, it harbors resentment, manifests itself into a restlessness that no 20-mile walk around the neighborhood could ever subdue. Wanderlust makes itself known and demands to be acknowledged until I find myself in a trance, packing my belongings to set out once again. The destination isn’t always known or even important; the key is to be on the road, in motion, engaging with this vast world that begs to be discovered.
Like many wandering souls, if there’s been a way to travel, I’ve found and used it. As a teenager, I would take my dad’s mountain bike through the city streets as far as my feet could pedal. Through the years, it’s morphed from my first tortuously long flight to Buenos Aires to trains in India, ferries to Morocco, buses throughout the length of South America, helicopters over the Nazca lines, and motorbikes throughout Vietnam. You name it, I’ve done it. And still, nothing lures me in like the simplicity of a road trip.
Maybe it’s the romanticism of the American Dream, of being able to hop into my own car, take control, and drive wherever I so desire. Perhaps it’s Kerouac’s lingering influence after reading On the Road the summer after I graduated high school. As much as I’ve traveled, I still yearn to do a cross-country road trip of my own. It could just be the freedom and autonomy, the ability to roll down the windows, blast my favorite Tom Petty song, and watch as the landscapes roll by. The hours pass and city streets metamorphize into windy mountain roads to oceansides dotted with palm trees to desolate sandy paths of the desert. There’s nothing more enchanting.
Perhaps, however, there doesn’t have to be an exact reason why a person is drawn to something. I’ve been going on road trips as long as I can remember. My parents used to stuff my two brothers and me into the back of their VW bug and the five of us would mosey down the barrenness of Highway 5 until we reached whatever national park or camping site they had chosen. Since then, I’ve been taking my own cars- from my dangerously fast (and problem-ridden) Pontiac Grand Prix to my darling chili red Mini Cooper- up and down the lengths of the West Coast of the United States. From the last parking lot before Tijuana, Mexico all the way past the border into Vancouver, B.C., I’ve made that road trip happen.
While I’m currently living abroad in Bogota, Colombia, I’ve been dreaming of the van life for quite some time. Though I have traveled extensively throughout the world, there is still so much to discover in my country of origin, more concrete to conquer. I long to have a home that I can take along with me, wherever I go, without having to decide which books to leave behind or which clothes I should pack. By having a home on wheels, I could still adopt a furry companion, take all of my journals along, and roam the terrain on our own time. To be able to leave whenever the travel angels call, to not depend on bus schedules or flight prices- that is absolute perfection.
And so, as I enjoy my days in Bogota writing and soaking in Colombian culture, I dream of my future adventures. I imagine myself alongside my traveling cat or dog (perhaps both), driving from California to New York, getting to know the people and landscapes of the United States. We’d stop by vegan restaurants, visit sites of literary significance like Dean Cassady’s hometown in Colorado, explore national parks like Niagara Falls, and not have to worry where we lay our heads at night. This would be the ultimate road trip.
Some people dream but never dare to make those dreams into reality. I, on the other hand, am all about realization. Life can’t be taken for granted, and we need to do what fills our hearts with joy, what brightens our eyes, and inspires us not to survive but to feel alive in each moment. For me, this means going forward with my desire to live the van life. And while I’m not ready to invest multiple thousands of dollars on purchasing a van or an RV, I’ll begin by renting an RV.*
Who knows where the road will take me after that?
What is your favorite type of transportation while traveling? Have you done a road trip that is simply unforgettable? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
*Until recently, I wasn’t even aware that this was possible, but it makes sense that cars and trucks aren’t the only vehicles that one can borrow for a short period of time. In my research, I came across RVshare, which is the internet’s largest peer-to-peer RV rental platform. This U.S.-based service allows people to rent RVs and also to lease out their own RVs when they’re not in use. If you like to avoid large companies (and their atrocious fees) like me, while giving individual RV owners an extra source of income, this an incredible solution.