Around 44% more people took a road trip in 2020 than in the previous year, signaling a fact that many families are embracing effusively: the return of the road trip. There are various reasons, according to a recent OnePoll survey, and these include the fact that road tripping is more fun than flying, it is safer during current times, and it grants travelers a freedom and independence that the typical package tour could never offer. Now that global airports are increasingly opening up to international travel, you may find that a road trip still appeals. If you decide to be inspired by Kerouac, Steinbeck, or Carol Bensi, then you may already be planning your upcoming itinerary. Without a doubt, you will be surprised by the many beautiful sights and sounds you encounter along the way, but below you will find many more benefits of being ‘on the road’.
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Driving Can Be Therapeutic
In her book, Drivetime, Professor Lynne Pearce of Lancaster University delves into a rich archive of literature about the motoring century (1900 to 2000) to discover and discuss a few surprising benefits of being behind the wheel. Her research has shown that driving at a moderate speed and even crawling along country lanes (many of which are encountered during road trips) can afford drivers of all ages a chance to hone their problem-solving skills. Driving can also be a means of meditation and reverie, and it can be a way to reduce anxiety, anger and frustration. Pearce writes, “Although driving is now more commonly associated with road-rage than relaxation and the car is facing necessary extinction on environmental grounds, evidence of the ways in which driving can positively direct and structure thought raises interesting questions for our ‘driverless’ future.”
Bonding With Family
A road trip also affords modern families something that many lack on a day-to-day basis: time together to talk about thoughts and emotions, as well as the chance to build new memories together. A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology showed that in America, both parents and children are stressed – and that this stress can drive them apart. Research by The Travel Association, meanwhile, found that 77% of children reported no stress when their parents spent more time with them. Package tours and plane travel are still fun for families but they give parents and children less time to talk, share ideas, and take part in beneficial activities such as games and group sports – both of which help to bring family members closer.
Bringing A Piece Of Home Along
If you are traveling with babies, toddlers or small children, then you know that they tend to require bulkier items when traveling than older kids – think child car safety seats, pushchairs, baby bassinets, changing tables, diapers, sterilizing equipment, and the like. Fitting in all these crucial items is as easy as selecting an appropriate van or similarly large vehicle that can safely transport children and luggage/equipment, with plenty of storage and seating space alike. If you’re thinking about renting or purchasing a vehicle for a road trip, watch out for important features such as voice assistance, fuel economy, and safety features such as side airbags, automatic braking, lane keeping assist, and other features that will keep you safe while you are driving.
Stopping To Enjoy The Beauty Of Nature
Plane travel to big cities can be wonderful from a cultural perspective, but road trips allow families the opportunity to experience something they may be sorely lacking: an active relationship with nature. As stated by best-selling author, Richard Louv, most children living in urban areas are battling what he terms ‘nature-deficit disorder’. Nature, he notes, is key when it comes to teaching children how to focus, play, and benefit from the stress-busting effects of the Great Outdoors. Science backs his assertions, with study after study showing that people who spend even a little time in nature are less stressed than those who are constantly indoors. As found in a 2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison study, across all social groups, people who lived in neighborhoods with less than 10% tree canopy were much more likely to report having depression, stress and anxiety. Those living near national forests, meanwhile, were more likely to enjoy better health than those living on a treeless block. Scientists have found that nature restores one’s ability to concentrate and reduces mental fatigue.
On your next road trip, plan lots of green time, and try, if you can, to enjoy camping activities so the whole family can benefit from the many mental health benefits of ‘green time’. Make the most of your time together by asking questions, playing games, and making it a point to discover things you didn’t know. Driving as a whole has been found to be therapeutic, but when it is undertaken in the company of others, it can also be an enriching experience that is remembered by everyone in the family for many years to come.