canvas4There’s nothing that the road cannot heal. Conor Oberst

Eventually everyone comes to a turning point, a vista where they perk up their metaphysical ears, and really take a good look around this entity that is called life.  Inevitably when this happens, one will think things such as: am I really on the right track?  What have I been doing these past [weeks/months/years]?  Or a personal favorite: why did I start playing it safe instead of fully pursuing seemingly impossible dreams?  Often these questions occur around a time of transition, perhaps a bad break up, or college graduation.  If you find yourself standing at one of these inevitable life vistas, then its time to get some distance from yourself, get a grip on what you want, and heal yourself.  It’s time to hit the road!

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. Anatole France

Planned is good.  Unplanned is better. When preparing to leave for journey take as little as possible.  Warm clothes, toiletries, and sleeping gear should be enough.  If you must take a book stick to fiction.  The goal is to clear your head, not fog it up with new concepts needing digestion.  When in doubt pack light.  T-shirts, socks, toothpaste, and such can be purchased nearly anywhere.  If your road trip is in California, Oregon, or New York during the summer, you may have to sit down and make a few phone calls to reserve campsites or hotel/hostel accommodation.  In less crowded states try to avoid this if possible.  Looking for last minute campsites on BLM or Forest Service land can be quite an adventure!

Distance yourself from your life. The goal here is temporary disconnection.  Turn off your cell, forget the laptop, and don’t bring any projects with you.  Give your mind the freedom to become caught up in the moment, because it is from a state of flow that we make the best decisions.  By immersing yourself in the fun of a road trip you will gain perspective on difficult situations, and blind spots in your life.  A road trip will distance you from your problems, and with the emotional barriers removed the solution will often appear obvious.

Allow your mind to wander. Don’t try to guide your thoughts.  Just be present, fully experiencing the moment along with the thoughts and feelings that go with it.  Applying this technique on a recent road trip I realized that I haven’t been living where I really want, but rather where I am accustomed.  I realized I had been avoiding the idea of a move because I didn’t want to lose friendships, and i was worried about finding new friends whose company I enjoyed as much.  I realized that true friendships withstand the test of time and space, and that my worries are baseless.

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. Seneca

Escape the context of your situation. This is extremely effective in and of itself.  While on the trip stop thinking of yourself as a professional, or unemployed, or father of three.  When you have perspective outside of the status quo, you allows space to reflect on the status quo.  Will quitting your job to become a consultant really have a negative impact on your family? What’s the worst case scenario?  Asking questions like these without the attachment or urgency of everyday life can and will give you radically different answers.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. Lin Yutang

Finally, do not lose track of your insights upon your return. Stepping back in the cubicle for the 9-5 will return you to 9-5 thinking.  Stop!  Hold on to your insights! its time to implement them!  Take action! Otherwise the whole trip will just be another memory.  It will have lacked impact.  What would’ve been “a life changing road trip” will become “that time I drove across four states”.  That would be a real tragedy.