Road trips are often celebrated in movies and books. They have a nostalgic glow to them. They are not only fun in the moment, because everything is new and exciting, but they are also wonderful to talk about years afterwards.
Road trips build bonds between friends, between couples, and between family members. They also close the generation gap. They are a simple way to escape the ordinary routines of life and embark on a fabulous adventure.
An American Experience
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most famous road trips in the United States—the Pacific Coast Highway.
In California, the Pacific Coast Highway connects San Diego to San Francisco (approximately 130 miles) and then on to the Canadian border, and includes passing through Los Angeles.
Start in San Diego. This city is the home of the Lawrence Welk timeshare, California a fabulous resort complex built by the famous singer. The Lawrence Welk show, featuring the American bandleader and television impresario, was so popular that it ran from 1951 to 1982. San Diego has been called “America’s Finest City ” because of its inexorable miles of white sandy beaches and balmy weather.
From San Diego drive to Los Angeles. This, of course, is the home of Hollywood, famous for its movie stars and studios like Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers. L.A. is also well-known for Griffith Observatory and Griffith park; Disneyland; the Getty Center; Santa Monica; the Natural History Museum; and the California Science Center.
After you leave Los Angeles, you have an epic drive ahead of you. You’ll pass many mission towns and view vast stretches of beach that clasp the cliff-hugging highway. You’ll want to drive slowly to take in the sight of the crashing waves, the occasional elephant seals, and the magnificence of Big Sur.
Finally, you’ll arrive at San Francisco, the hilly city that sits on the tip of a peninsula that’s surrounded by the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Take in San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, the impossibly winding roads, and all the brightly colored Victorian houses.
Many people in the United States are under the impression that a road trip is something of a unique American tradition. After all, America was the home of the Model T Ford and developed a vast network of roads to open up the country to its citizens. Moreover, Jack Kerouac’s adventures with Neal Cassady described in his book, On the Road, became a classic novel of freedom. It’s an inspiring story about the search for identity that defined an entire generation of people seeking the authentic life.
However, the road trip is actually popular all over the world. In the UK, a Cornwall road trip is a delightful experience. In Australia, the Sydney to Brisbane Drive is considered a worthy adventure. And in Germany, the Romantic Road is a 220-mile drive past forests and fields, medieval towns, and castles.
One reason why fewer people are going on road trips is because of the cost. However, the adventure is more than worth the trouble of saving and planning for a road trip.
Although economic considerations like inflation and the rising cost of living have discouraged enthusiasm for road trips, it hasn’t stopped it altogether. While the price of gas, food, and lodging isn’t as cheap as it used to be in the past, road trips are still possible.
In fact, when you sit down and think about it, there are many ways to reduce the cost. Here, for example, are five suggestions:
- Plan out your trip ahead of time, deciding exactly where you want to go, instead of just seeing where the road takes you.
- Use smartphone apps to find the cheapest places to pump gas, eat, and sleep and plan your route accordingly.
- Work within a budget and plan your trip according to your expense forecast.
- Break up your adventure into mini-trips, going at different times of the year to your selected locations. In other words, shorter trips to improve cash flow.
- Prefer the open road, long stretches of highway, instead of smaller, winding roads for better gas mileage.