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A Cross-Country Road Trip Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution. Here's Why.

Make your resolution an adventurous one.

By: Matthew Thomson + Save to a List

It’s that time of year again. That time of year when you’re sitting on the couch feeling over stuffed from all of the holiday food and festivities and you finally have a chance to look back on the previous year. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the moments that made us feel alive, and the ones that made us feel like we have no idea what we’re doing with our lives.

And guess what? That’s a good thing. At least you’ve been able to figure out what you did and didn’t like from 2016. And now that we’re turning our attention to 2017, we can contemplate what our New Year Resolutions are going to be. For a lot of people (fingers crossed), that will be finding some way to get outside more. Of course, this idea sounds simple enough. If you want to do something outside, just go outside, right? Perhaps, but sometimes we need a little more adventure than the typical hike that’s 30-ish minutes away from our home.

So, instead of settling for the normal New Year’s Resolution, why not switch it up and go on a road trip across the Unites States and hit up some National Parks?

Here are 7 reasons why you should do just that:

1. You get to see new places that you might not have had the chance to before, in a cool way.

Driving across the country is what I would consider intimate. You will get this unique feeling of living on the road and nothing else really compares to it. You’ll get to experience driving from sunrise to sunset, come across hole-in-the-wall restaurants that will blow your mind, and meet people from all over the world who are traveling to the same places. There really is no better way to explore our national parks and see how wildly different each region of our country truly is. Sure, you can fly to your destination, but aside from the convenience of saving time (but not money), where’s the adventure in it?

2. You will REALLY get to know your friends.

One of the best experiences about taking a road trip is getting to know the friends you’re traveling with. I’m sure that you already know your friends pretty well, but being with them in a confined space for an extended period of time is a whole new level of friendship. And I’ll go ahead and let you know that there will be the good moments, and then there are going to be the bad ones. But that’s one of the things that makes a road trip great. You truly get to know one another and you’re forced to settle differences quickly and maturely, which can help build stronger relationships. Ultimately, friends are what make a road trip special.

3. It will help you identify the things that are necessary in life.

This is probably one thing that stuck out to me on the road trips that I’ve been on. I wound up spending a lot of time and money on things that I thought I would need, but during those trips I realized that I was only using a fraction of the stuff I brought. Sure, there are some things that are definitely necessary for your trip, but it’s key to not overdue it. Next time you’re at the store before a trip and you see that cool shirt for $100, ask yourself “do I really need this”? This realization can help develop more of a minimalist mentality, which is something that we can all strive for in the upcoming year.

4. You will have a whole new appreciation for the places you visit AND your home.

It’s one thing to see images of these awesome places on your computer or phone, but it’s another world when you’re actually there. Once you get the opportunity to see these places with your own eyes and breath that new air, you can only describe it as magical. Waking up early to catch the sunrise or staying up late staring up at the stars will give you a whole new appreciation for the places you visit. Additionally, it will be hard not to develop a connection with these places. This often leads people to be more aware of conservation projects and learning about ways to protect the places that we love. It’s much easier to care about something when you have that personal connection. On the flip side, you will appreciate where you're from and the people there that make it special. It's a win-win situation in my opinion.

5. You will learn that deviating from the “plan” is OK.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a good idea and completely necessary to plan out your trip and the places that you want to see. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick to every detail of the plan. There will be numerous times in which you’ll have to adjust your plan due to unforeseen circumstances. And you know what? It’ll all work out, one way or another. Being in the mindset of going with the flow and accepting change can actually reduce stress for yourself, which is crucial for any road trip and life in general.

6. You will definitely learn a thing or two about yourself.

A road trip is the perfect time for reflecting on who you are, because you’ll literally have all the time you could ever want. You get to reflect on your personal characteristics, attitude, demeanor, and mindset. Even once the trip comes to an end, you can look back and see how you reacted to adversity, uncertainty, and the way you treated yourself and others in certain situations. If you want to become a better you in 2017, a road trip can certainly help with that.

7. You will have memories that will last a lifetime.

In my opinion, this is what it’s all about. All of the hours stuck in the car, the deep conversations with your friends under the stars, the interactions with people from across the globe are what make these trips so special. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words how much of an impact a road trip can have on your life. And that’s exactly why everyone needs to experience it, because we each get something unique out of it that only you can describe.

Every year, we try to find ways to help us become a better person in some shape or form. We simply strive to understand ourselves and how we want our lives to look, and I think one of the best ways to do that is being with good friends and driving across the country. And hopefully, by this time next year, when you look back on the year and reminisce, you’ll think of that road trip and the impact that it had on you and your friends. If you can swing a road trip, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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