Your dad is driving the family station wagon, a steel marvel of bench seats and faux wood paneling. He’s punching buttons on the 8-track player in the dashboard because the radio is only picking up static. You’re somewhere east of the middle of nowhere.
Your mom is wrestling with a map almost as big as a bedsheet. The wind from the rolled-down passenger window threatens to grab the map right out of her hands as she tries to figure out if you just passed your exit.
You’re facing backwards in the third-row seat, not wearing a seatbelt, watching the miles unwind behind the car. No matter how much you might debate your brother about vehicular real estate and whether his foot crossed the invisible line that’s between you, this annual excursion is the highlight of your summer. Decades later, you refer to these trips together as “epic.”
Before air travel became so ubiquitous, road trips were a summertime rite of passage for families and anyone looking to getaway. But they’re not a relic of a bygone era. Road trips are in the midst of a revival, and they’re even better than you remember.
Get in Gear for the Road
Pack your bags and grab some snacks because we’re about to enter the summer of the road trip. GasBuddy’s annual travel survey found that nearly one-third of the U.S. plans to hit the road in the coming months. People are taking advantage of lower gas prices, but it’s not just economics driving this return to the roadway.
Road trips are an enduring symbol of freedom, and they get back to the basics of what makes travel soul-stirring in the first place. Taking the back roads. Feeling the wind in your hair. Listening to your favorite tunes as the miles roll by. And simply enjoying the serendipity of the journey.
Consider how road trips have changed over the years.
- Truck stops are now called travel centers, and they’re as likely to offer a decent cup of coffee and gourmet snacks as they are windshield wipers and air fresheners shaped like pine trees.
- Apps like Spotify and Pandora put the entire music catalog in the palm of your hand. Now you don’t have to listen to Hotel California over and over again. Unless that’s your thing.
- Instead of asking, “Are we there yet?” a million times in a row, kids can keep up with the journey in real-time via GPS. Plus, you’ll never miss your exit and have to do a multi-mile loop-de-loop to get back on track.
- Roadside attractions are still as fun and quirky as ever. But don’t count on luck to bring you to the most Instagram-worthy places. Websites like Atlas Obscura can help you get there, and apps like Road Trippers can help you plan your full route.
One thing that hasn’t changed about road trips? The journey is still what’s most important. And the time spent with people you love, seeing the sights and making memories, is what lasts.
Fuel Your Getaway
At a moment when we could all use a vacation, consider grabbing the kids, grab your spouse, maybe even grabbing your dog and hitting the open road. The whole wonderful world is waiting for you.
To further stoke your desire to get rolling, check out these summer getaway offers from the extraordinary destinations of Benchmark Resorts & Hotels. Book today, pack your bags, take some snacks and hit the open road—your room is waiting! Discover distinctively regional offers for Texas, Florida, the West, Great Lakes, Virginias, Mountain States, and the Northeast. Then, start making memories.