What do think about a more personal article this time ? Well, personal is a big word, but I noticed that until now the articles were very factual – I simply try to give you a good overview on what we did and what you could do on the US West coast. At least I try to stay more or less objective so that it would guide you and give you new ideas (that you should not be afraid to shaaaaaaare !). But it has been almost a year since I left for this road trip now, and I just wanted to go back on my memories. I only kept good ones, and if I could, I would leave right now for new adventures. But you are maybe still hesitating ? With this
small perspective, I am going to make a list of things that I absolutely LO-VED during this trip and that will hopefully motivate you as well ! I already know that by the time I will press on the ‘Publish’ button, I will think about a thousand other reasons that I have not mentioned… But as some you you may know, if I start writing too much I will not be able to stop ! So do not hesitate to throw your hat in or ask me questions using the comment function just below 🙂 PS : some points will probably seem a bit cliché, but if you have not been on a road trip yet, everything will make sense during or after your journey !
Whether you are traveling in California, the US West Coast or completely elsewhere, you can only appreciate this crazy feeling of total freedom ! It is actually quite hard to find the proper words to make that feeling more tangible, but there are only few moments in the everyday life on which you are able to do whatever you want. You can surely like your studies and/or your job, but this necessarily means responsibilities and obligations one way or another… When you are on the road, you can just go anywhere, anytime. And even if you do not do it, just the possibility to be free to go wherever is enough to put you in a good mood. Given the fact that we actually were not staying that long, we still had a pretty precise list of places we wanted to visit, but we also enjoyed a few wanderings here and there. This feeling of freedom is getting even bigger when you are driving alone on a desert highway… That is the time when you can take 5 minutes, and realize how powerful this feeling is and how happy it makes you !
Unpredictability. Spontaneity. Those are almost synonyms of road trip ! It totally support this freedom feeling that I loved so much; but beyond that it is just amazing to let everything go for a moment, to leave behind the organization and a certain frame to simply enjoy the present moment. Despite our busy schedule, it was really great to decide on the spot whether we wanted to do this trail or not, whether we should eat at that place or not, whether we should spend the night here or not… In the end you rediscover the pleasure of doing what you want, living in the moment and taking our decisions according to our instincts and without any futile overthinking. It can been seen as being on vacation generally speaking… but but more than ever when you are on the road you learn not only to trust your guts, but also to be aware of the present moment. It is precisely for this no-constraint rule that I really want to go on a road trip again for future holidays !
Well, if you decide to go abroad, whatever the type of trip you are taking on, it is probably because you are curious about discovering what happens elsewhere and seeing new places, right ? With a road trip on the US West Coast, you will not be disappointed by the journey ! On paper it is probably less original than going through Asia on a bike or backpacking around South America…but it was a destination that I had never visited and was glad to discover. There were so many things to see and we actually only did a tiny part of it; but still, more than ever I loved discover new places and learn the codes, secrets, history, topography, etc. Whatever your destination is, open your eyes and simply admire the world around you ! Beyond the human aspect (that I will talk about just below), the road trip really allows you to see a number of things in a small window of time and visiting all these crazy places is worth it, isn’t it ?
Starting to write this part I realize that the order in which I am presenting you things here has zero importance… Or maybe I should put this paragraph first ! Until now I have never traveled by myself. Maybe it will happen one day, because sometimes you do not have the same desires or possibilities as your friends; so instead of not going at all, you better leave solo. But I have never traveled by myself. Simply because sharing all those amazing moments with one or several other buddies is the best in my opinion ! It surely creates bonds to have seen all these things and have in commun all those wonderful memories. When you go home and you are a bit depressed about leaving everything behind, it is somehow reassuring to know that others also remember the same moments. I had met my travel buddies only a few months before leaving, during my exchange in Victoria, Canada. We had already shared quite a lot together : parties, laughs, travels, talks, meals… But we did not know each other that well (at least not for long) in the end, and despite that it worked perfectly well ! Our desire of discoveries and adventures brought us closer together, and despite our own little personalities and moods (yes yes, I am also/
mostly talking about mine…), it is definitely those people that made the experience even greater. Karolin, Marijke, Antwan, Eirik (Matthias and Stefan as well, even if it was more ponctual) : thank you again for this amazing road trip ! The journey would not have been the same without you guys. I do not believe in fate or such things, but clearly, as luck would have it, we ended up on each other’s road. After driving on all the West coast roads, we realize that Europe is not that big, but still, it gets hard to see other unfortunately. But I am not loosing hope that we will have other adventures together in the future, starting with our reunion in Prague next month, YAY ! Here you go, the love letter is over, and I hope you also will want to write one to your friends when you come back.. That is definitely all I am wishing you for your next road trip !
Honestly we were quite lucky during those weeks spent on the road, we never had an unsolvable situation that would have ruined part of the trip. But every journey comes with some surprises and you sometimes need a lot of optimism and good spirit to overcome these small bumps in the road and still enjoy the road trip. On the spot, we always think it is the end of the world, but there is a solution to everything (or almost). You just have to learn to calm down for 5 seconds and realize that not only the situation is usually not that dramatic, but also that you can always count on your travel buddies to save the day – or cheer you up (or listen to you complain about everything haha). In the end, it is all just good stories to share when you come back : ending up with no place to stay for the night (story ending on a supermarket parking lot), spending 30 minutes trying to start the car without any success (after a call to the agency that would have made our interlocutor’s day, it was just a faulty contact), using your last quarters in a shower with no hot water (being clean or comfortable, you have to choose), getting rid of the wastewater (no real problem here but it was not very classy), driving with your gas tank almost empty trying to find a gas station along the sinuous roads of a national park (I think we came close to a serious disaster here), spill all the pastas in the sink while draining them (the 5-second rule was not respected but it still tasted ok), forgetting your driver’s licence at the agency (and realizing it about 2 weeks later), not being able to buy beers even though you are over 21 (apparently the Norwegian passport does not inspire confidence), looking like a boxer thanks to a bad reaction to a mosquito bite on your face (luckily I had my sunglasses to cover it up a bit)… Well, well, a lot of anecdotes that fortunately have a good ending and that make the most interesting memories ! Do you have any to share with us ?
Once again, I am going back on several points made earlier… But leaving for a road trip is the perfect occasion to make thousands of new memories ! It usually is the case when you go on a vacation (at least I hope so) but when you are on the road, everything is subject to creating anecdotes and memories ! You will be 24/7 with your teammates, which will allows you to know them better and laugh hard. Apart from that, wandering around will give you the opportunity to see many cities, many parks; and in not time, you will have been to hundreds of amazing places. Within a month, I still cannot believe I have visited so much, and see for yourself, this short period of time already gives me material to write a whole blog ! Cool, right ? Do not forget to take many pictures/videos to be able to go through all these memories when you come back !
I think we are definitely getting to the bottom of the cliché with this last part… It sounds quite stupid when you say that you can (re)discover yourself going on a road trip, but it does not make it less of a truth ! Do not go extreme with that thought, I did not have a huge revelation myself, but you can still profit from it at a personal point of view. It is funny because writing this paragraph, I realize that I have talked a lot about others, about the group and it is an essential part of the road trip. But this trip is also the time to realize that yes, YOU CAN DO IT ! It sounds silly, but not everyone is cut out for this, and you have to give yourself credit for trying, succeeding and appreciating this kind of holidays. Yes, you can put on your warrior mode and overcome the daily troubles ! If you are more of a solitary person, you will realize that you have not spent one minute alone for a whole month and that you miss this (omni)presence when you come back. If you are not so much of a nature lover, you will surprise yourself enjoying a hike in a national park (rain and steepness are optional) more than that restlessness feeling found in LA. If you like your comfort, you will amaze yourself (and your people) liking this daily life on top of each other in a van with no space for intimacy. If you are usually very organized, you will come to like flexibility, and the unexpected. Well that was for me, but I am sure you can find yourself some unforeseen talents and that is also the point of such an adventure !
Seven reasons… Why not 3 ? Why not 15 ? Those are the ones I thought about immediately starting to write this article, and probably the major ones then. All I realize in the end is how much it touches me to talk to you about all this ! Ever since I am back, I dream about leaving again. I loved my last school semester in Toulouse, enjoy my current job… But these road trip desires stay in the back of your head somehow, and I hope to go on new adventures soon ! Maybe to some closer (and colder) destinations such as Norway or Iceland, or maybe leaving to the other side of the world again to Australia or New-Zealand ? One thing is for sure, no need to convince me anymore, I sign off again anytime you want !