In just under 11 hours, you could fly from Salt Lake City to Paris, or you could drive from Provo to San Diego.
Going to Paris will set you back about $1,500 round trip, and that doesn’t include the money you’ll spend on hotels, food and sightseeing. Not to mention the time you’ll waste trying to shake off the jet lag, recovering just in time to come home. For students, a trip to Paris on a long weekend is not realistic.
Road trips present students with slim wallets the opportunity to travel. Road tripping is economical, flexible and more plausible for most students. With this type of travel, the destination is only a fraction of the overall experience. For Luke Sherry, a graphic design student from Corvallis, Ore., many things factor into planning a road trip, but who you go with is crucial.
“To me, company is the most important thing,” Sherry said. “The event is second. It doesn’t matter where we’re going as long as there’s good company.”
Since road trips require several hours in a confined space with a small group of people, Sherry seems to have a point. Road trips can strengthen old friendships and forge new ones. Alexis Shaeffer and her husband take road trips frequently.
“We love them,” she said. “It’s the only time we get to sit and talk for hours about all the things we never get to talk about.”
Tanner Konold, a senior studying English, agreed with Shaeffer.
“Road trips are about being with people you like for long periods of time,” he said.
Konold believes road trips are good for a friendship because they allow you to see sides of a person that may not come out while simply hanging out.
“Anyone can put on a show for an hour,” he said, “But if you’re with someone for several days, you get a good idea about the kind of person they are.”
Personalities emerge when something unexpected happens. An appealing aspect of traveling by car is the opportunity for spontaneity. On a road trip, you are not bound by strict flight itineraries or the hassle of changing hotel reservations. You can stop or go wherever, adding side trips and new destinations to your journey.
“When you road trip, you get a sort of mental orientation of your voyage and all the places you’ve been through,” Sherry said.
A successful road trip does take some planning, however. Knowing where you can stay is essential and sometimes determines your destination. Since saving money is a priority, staying with friends is an ideal option. For Sherry, there is the added bonus of meeting new people.
“You get to meet people’s parents and see where they’re from,” he said. “It adds some humanity to the trip.”
On road trips, however, set plans can dissolve or evolve and give way to something you may not have been planning on. Benny Gringeri, a chemical engineering student from San Jose, Calif., sees a good road trip as a metaphor for life.
“A road trip puts life into its proper perspective,” Gringeri said. “It’s not always about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
The beauty of the road trip is spending time with your friends, creating memories and embracing the unexpected.
“The unexpected elements of a trip are sometimes the things that characterize it,” Sherry said. “That’s what is maybe just as memorable or just as enjoyable and adds some sort of individual flair to your trip.”