7 Reasons Why Road Trips are Good for the Soul - 2 Dads with Baggage
man walks down empty road through desert

7 Reasons Why Road Trips are Good for the Soul

This post is sponsored by Autotrader; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our family loves to travel and sometimes a good road trip is the perfect anecdote to the everyday stresses of work and school. This Spring, we plan to retrace our tire tracks to the Great Southwest. We’ll revisit some of our favorite adventures from California through Arizona and Nevada for an epic Spring Break road trip, all with the help of Autotrader.

SUV hatchback full of luggage and ready for a road trip
Our family road trip challenge is packing the car.

There are so many amazing places to visit by car throughout America’s Great Southwest. We’re excited to have this family experience together, and Autotrader can make anyone’s Spring Break road trip more pleasant. Not only have the good folks at Autotrader made car buying easier, but now they are offering some great tips for making road trips easier too. 

Road Trips Are Good for the Soul

There is just something special about packing up the car and hitting the road. Whether it brings back memories from childhood trips with our parents or building new memories with our own families, a road trip is good for our souls.

View from backseat of car as driver moves down Arizona highway
Nothing like the open roads between California and Arizona to calm the senses.

By our count, we’ve taken our family on more than 50 road trips since the kids were little. In our safe and trusty family car, we have wound the streets of many a far-flung destination. We’ve navigated the hills of San Francisco, cornered the mountain curves of the Sierra Nevadas and glided along straight-as-arrow roads in the middle of the New Mexico desert. 

Family with two dads on colorful rock formations in Sedona, Arizona
In Sedona the red rock formations look out of this world.

One thing all these trips have in common is us! We bring ourselves along for the ride, and for better or worse we are stuck to each other. For our family road trips are good for the soul, both individually and collectively.

Helpful Road Trip Tips from Autotrader

Even though you’ve made your list and checked it twice, there are still good reasons to consult experts like Autotrader for good tips and reminders. I know when we pack up the car, we inevitably forget some important thing that would have made the trip easier. Or like in this case, were unaware of technology that can now enable our family to enjoy the journey more.

For example, some newer cars have features important to my drive more pleasant (Spring Break road trip or otherwise!) Wireless charging stations take the pain out of tangled cords and fights for the limited ports most cars contain. Another cool feature – which we have taken advantage of – is access to Apple CarPlay. With CarPlay, we can toss apps, music and other infotainment into the car’s systems so passengers can enjoy their favorites while the driver can still focus on the navigation system simultaneously.

Check out Autotrader’s tips for a Spring Break road trip.

7 Reasons Why Road Trips are Good for the Soul

Where you are a family of two or twelve, we all share some common traits. Here are some of things we know to expect on our upcoming spring break road trip to the great Southwest. We suspect you will too.

1.Bonding Moments

Spending hours in a car together can have a bonding effect on families. Although it may be a struggle to get the kids’ headphones out of the ears, we cherish those moments when a car ride spurs interesting conversations. It’s hard to avoid building bonds when we’re all seeing and experiencing the same things at the same time. 

Like that visit to Hoover Dam for instance, when the weather was hotter than the surface of the sun. We exited the cool, comfortable confines of our car, huffing and puffing our way across the top of the dam to see the view. None of us could wait another second to get back to the car to blast the AC. We still laugh together about that experience and how melted we all felt.  

Bridge span over the Colorado River at Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is an impressive engineering feat.

2.Shared Experiences

On our road trips, we always stop to see interesting things along the route. Leaving time in our agenda to be surprised by things we come across, our daily itinerary varies. Frequent stops can be lifesavers on a road trip, especially when your kids are little. Teens or toddlers, these stops and surprises build shared experiences within a family that cannot be replicated. 

View of the Grand Canyon from helicopter
Nothing like seeing the Grand Canyon from high above.

For example, our visit to the Grand Canyon was made memorable as our family’s first helicopter ride together. Soaring above Arizona, beautiful red and orange canyons were all we could see for miles and miles. It’s hard not to drop your jaw in awe of the immensity and beauty of this place. Sharing this experience together was one of those special moments that feeds our souls with goodness.

Papillon Helicopters gives rides to view the Grand Canyon
Seeing the Grand Canyon from a helicopter was one of our family’s road trip highlights!

3. Building Memories

It’s one thing to take photos and videos of all the cool places you visit (and we do, believe me). Of course, you can always look back on these and recall the places you’ve seen over the years. For an even deeper experience, we know we are building memories inside our heads to carry with us always – no device necessary.

Memories of great road trips like our foray throughout America’s Great Southwest will live forever etched in our hearts and minds. Standing on a hillside at the edge of a remote road in the Arizona desert, we experienced one of those moments. With giant saguaro cactus looming overhead, the sky just seemed bluer and the rocks more vivid. It’s a moment etched in each of our memory banks forever.

Rocky cactus covered landscape in Tucson, Arizona
The wild western landscapes of Arizona are meant to be explored.

4. Time to Think

Who said blank minds were a bad idea? We spend most of our days at work or school cramming our brains with information we may or may not ever need again. Our lives are deluged with messages and communication of all kinds, so much so that at times it’s hard to think at all. Road trips are a remedy for the afflictions of daily life, providing an opportunity for peace and quiet.

Sometimes we love driving for hours without music or conversation. The hum of the car motor, the sound of air rushing past, the gentle crackling of the tires meeting the road. These sounds can be a welcome sort of meditation. On our upcoming spring break road trip to the Great Southwest, we know there is a stretch of road between California and Arizona that is so desolate. We can only see sand dunes for miles, and our minds can wander freely without interruption.

Sand dunes between California and Arizona along Highway 8
Hard to believe these desert sand dunes are in California on the road to Arizona.

5. Remote Vistas

Inevitably on spring break road trips like the one we are planning, we get to see remote places that would never be enjoyed another way. Often these places are located along highways in the middle of nowhere, or plunked down at roadside stops that even google maps have trouble identifying. 

Our family loves places like this. Sometimes we will intentionally not look at any maps, knowing our final destination and route but not the places along the way. When we get hungry, we stop. When we see something interesting, we pull over. We get bored, and look for places of interest – like Jerome, Arizona. Along our spring break road trip to the great Southwest, we came upon the abandoned mining town of Jerome. Now a ghost town, the place is downright eerie and full of stories about strange hauntings, murdered miners and Old West gun battles.

Exterior corner of Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona
They say the Hotel Connor in Jerome is haunted.

6. Special Roadside Stops

Like scenes from an episode on a travel channel, our family has seen some pretty interesting sights as we amble down the highway on our spring break road trip. Getting out of our comfort zones is one of the best ways to teach our kids about the differences in our lives from one place to the next. They need to see and experience life unlike their own. Road trips are great ways to expose ourselves to bits of places without the need to commit to long visits.

Interior of Welcome Inn Diner in Tucson, Arizona
This diner in Tucson is a throwback to 1950s era diners.

Our on spring break road trip through New Mexico, we happened upon a graveyard for old gas station pumps and just had to pull over. It was so fun to wander through the collection, marveling at how one person’s trash is another’s treasure.  Later in Tucson, we had dinner at an old diner turned modern eatery. The new owners of Welcome Diner maintained the look and feel of the 1950s vibe while introducing new and delicious menus. Also in Tucson, a stop into the historic Hotel Congress gave us reason for a slice of cake in their cute lobby restaurant.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
This carrot cake with cream cheese frosting called to me.

7. Learning to Share & Forgive

Two of the most important lessons in life can be learned riding in the car on a spring break road trip. For miles, our family must endure each other and our personalities – good, bad and ugly. Kids get cranky and fight over the silliest things. The driver misses an important turn, and the ride continues in silence for what seems like forever. There is never enough room for all our personal belongings, so sitting is snug and space is limited. All these things and more can try our patience and wind us tightly until the slightest thing can set us off.

These are the times when we agree it’s best to pull over and find a distraction. A break in the tension can be easily found with some interesting sites along the roadway, some vista to behold or local delicacy to enjoy. When tensions subside, we realize it wasn’t that big a deal. We can forgive whatever had irked us, and learn to share our space, our stuff and our feelings. More food for our souls.

Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona
No this has not been photoshopped, but snapped from the side of the road.

Road Trips Deliver Life Lessons

These are some of the life lessons our family has learned from our long list of road trips, both local and abroad. Now driving in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know the local customs? That brings a whole other set of challenges and opportunities, meant to be overcome from the safe interior of a car as we tool down the path of another epic spring break road trip. (But that’s fodder for another story – stay tuned for that one.)

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