Picking the ideal copilots for an extended road trip is important. Whether it’s your partner or your BFFs, you want people with whom you can spend hours in a car without wanting to kill them. Choose the perfect travel companions and your trip will be an incredible bonding experience, full of amazing adventures and special time spent together. Well, 95% of the time it will be. The other 5% of the time you’ll be tired and hangry and whoever’s driving will have just made the fourth wrong turn of the day and you’ll be all-out shouting at each other over the hellfire-and-brimstone religious radio station you’re being forced to listen to because someone forgot to charge the phone with the music. That’s just how it is. But there are some important steps you can take to ensure that percentage stays at 5% and that you still all love each other when you reach your destination.
Get out of the car
On our road trip, we tried to limit our driving time each day to five or six hours, but some days we had to spend nine or more hours in the car and on those days we definitely got more antsy and more argumentative. Obviously the conditions of your road trip may dictate how long you have to drive each day—if you’re trying to make it across the country in a week as opposed to our 2+ months you’re going to be forced to have much longer days on the road—but even if you know you’re going to be driving 12 hours don’t be tempted to try to push through without pitstops. Even 15 minutes’ break outside the car to stretch and get some fresh air and explore a town or a nature area makes such a difference in everyone’s temperaments.
The number one place I wanted Steve and I to visit on our road trip—the number one place on my bucket list, in fact—was the Grand Canyon. After we left Las Vegas we headed into the southwest where even in early spring we were faced with the dry heat of Arizona and Utah. We spent almost two weeks traveling from Sedona to Moab before making our way into Colorado, visiting five national parks in the process. Including, yes, the Grand Canyon, which was even more amazing than I could have imagined. In fact, the entire reason was incredible; the national parks we visited were some of the highlights of the trip, there were ample free campsites for us to stay in (ranging from extremely nice to extremely weird, but all conveniently located at the least), and the rock formations both in the parks and along the road were awe-inspiring to witness.
One thing that interested me, though, was that as much as I loved visiting the Southwest, I could tell right away I would definitely not want to live there. Usually when I visit a place I love, I start daydreaming about what my life would be like if I moved there. And I did that a lot on this trip, not entirely hypothetically—Steve and I will eventually have to settle somewhere (probably), and there’s a 50/50 change it’ll be in the USA, so we talked about whether we could see ourselves living in Chicago, Colorado, and other favourite locations. But, and I mean no offense to people who live there and love it, I just couldn’t see myself living somewhere with so much red sand and desert. By the time we left, I was more than ready for rain and grass and more rain.
Still, visiting the southwest was one of the most exciting and exhilarating parts of our trip, and it’s a region I’d love to visit (key word) again. In the future, I want to get a permit to hike the fiery furnace at Arches NP, camp in the Grand Canyon, and explore the more remote sections of Canyonlands. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of Arizona and Utah: