10 Things I Learned On The Road

Before my road trip posts officially draw to an end, there’s a couple of things I’d like to share.

The open road was my canvas… to drive down, to see through, and to learn on. 2,810 miles… 14 states… all tackled in 7 days. It was exhausting, but one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far. In those 168 hours, I had a lot of time to think and a lot of time to learn. I now know things that I only know because of this road trip. From dawn till dusk… from NYC to LA… here are 10 things that the road taught me:

roadThings Are Never Exactly As Predicted

I definitely painted a pretty picture in my head of what I wanted this road trip to look like before it ever started. It all looked so nice, almost to the point of existing as a dream. No hang-ups, no drifting off course, staying as healthy as possible… it was a picture that sat on a high pedestal. Along the way, I realized that this vision I had created wasn’t quite a realistic one.

Things are never exactly as you picture them. Sometimes not as grand, but sometimes better. I learned that It’s best to not have expectations, to appreciate the experience for what it is, and take it in second by second. Some of the best things in life are the ones that come unexpected.



Always Leave Room For Error

A flat tire, a wrong turn, bad weather… obstacles aren’t uncommon on the road, just like human error isn’t uncommon in life. If you leave room for mistakes, it’ll be easier to clean up the mess, and faster to get back on track. Having a back up plan is always a way to ensure good times roll on.

road 1


Embrace The Quiet Time

I find it hard to have uninterrupted time to myself on the day to day. I stay busy, which I like to an extent, but it’s hard for me to find the peace and quite to just think.

The road will give you all the time in the world to think. Conversations with travel companions are bound to stall, and at first, I allowed boredom to envelope those silent moments. I remember monotonously looking at my phone, trying to switch up the music, waiting for the next rest area sign…

Boredom can be turned off faster than it hits. I learned that those moments of quiet are made for thinking. I used it as a time to get to know the thoughts in my head. I listened to what they were saying, I let any little one flutter in. I noticed this happened more when I was in the driver’s seat rather than the passenger’s. I thought about things that I later wanted to express further in writing, and I found that the long road became a form of meditation for me. I learned to embrace the quiet time.


Bickering Is Normal

Being in close quarters with another human being, spending every waking moment with them for a week… trust me when I say that bickering is completely normal, and you should expect it. Boyfriend, best friend, acquaintance, relative… a road trip will put any sort of relationship to the test. Tensions are bound to be high at some point along the way, and if you don’t already know what buttons you shouldn’t press… you’ll probably find out.

It’s important to think about the company you’ll be sharing the trip with before you embark. Having an understanding that you and your travel partner(s) are in this thing together will help make for a smoother ride. Look out for each other, and pick each other up if things are looking down. A clash or two may arise, but we’re all human and conflict is in our nature. In the end, you’ll probably be closer than you were before.



You Can Never Go Wrong With Utah

Picking out points of interest to explore along the way can be overwhelming. The U.S. is huge, and peppered with awesome sights to see in every nook and cranny. If your route has you passing through Utah, and time only allows for a stop or two, you can never go wrong in this state. It wasn’t named the National Park Capitol for nothing…

5 national parks are situated throughout: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion. All are easily accessible from major highways, most only 40-45 minutes off the main drag. If you have the time, I highly recommend exploring these parks. You won’t understand how magical Utah is until you’ve experienced the land first-hand. 100% worth it.




Kansas Is Underrated

Yes it’s flat, and yeah there’s not a whole lot going on, but Kansas took me by surprise. There’s something about wide, vast open spaces that inspires me. I grew up in an area that was extremely populated, so I’m not used to hundreds of miles of land, just existing by itself. The road was quiet, too. Wide lanes, traffic at the minimum. The drive up until this point was extremely dull. Not a lot to look at, which I expected for Kansas too, but this state does it in a way unique to itself, and it’s simply beautiful.

My favorite part was when the wind farms in the distance started to come into focus. Giant white figures sprang up out of nowhere, forming a sea of wind turbines. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. It was such an epic sight. The three blades on each create moving fractals in the sky as they rotate. Hundreds existed in these wind farms. I found so much beauty in something that looked so out of the ordinary.

Kansas, I like you.


Sunsets Are Best In Real Life 

I saw some of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen on this road trip. One of the most memorable was in Kansas. I had never seen a full gradient of colors so bright and well defined. The earth is so flat that all that comes into view is just open road and a tangerine sky. As many pictures as I took, and as many lighting adjustments I tested out, I learned that it’s nearly impossible to capture a sunset the exact way it looks in real life. The eyes are the best lens when it comes to watching the sun retire, and only the eye witnesses can testify to the true colors.



We All Have Our Own Secrets

As close as you may be to someone, the road taught me that we all have secrets.

Our mind is ours, our thoughts our own. We determine what stays in, and what comes out. As I sat only an arms stretch away from someone who knows me better than anyone on this planet, the person that I feel the most comfortable and safe around, I noticed there’s still an invisible shield that exists around my being at all times. It’s a little bubble that encases me, never ever to break down. It’s where all my thoughts are birthed and forever exist, and where memories of past experiences lay dormant until I decide to let them out. To share, or not to share?… That is the question.

Maybe a secret is really just a thought, or a perspective. We all have them living within, and they stay bounded to us, never seeing the light unless we determine it’s alright for them to come out.

We are our own safe havens. As much as we let someone in, there is forever a room that’s entirely meant for just us.




Appreciate The Experience 

The experience of travel is one that I will never get tired of, and each journey I embark on I wholeheartedly appreciate. I learned so much about myself on the road, and it was an opportunity to reflect on my life in the present moment, in the time and place I’m at right now, and to think about the direction I want to go in next.

Appreciate any wild experience that may come your way. A lifetime isn’t forever, so take risks, say “Yes”, and soak up as much of this wonderful world as you can.


Just Go

There’s nothing quite like the open road, and you’ll never look back once you start. Road trips are the best kind of trips, so if you have the opportunity…

Just go.

Check out more notes from the road!

Follow FP Jana on Instagram and Twitter.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Packing my bags now! I did a cross-country road trip with one of my absolute best friends and we definitely hit a new level of comradery after our journey. We shared secrets, voiced our opinions, spoke honestly, embraced the weird stuff and saw some incredible, incredible things!

7 years ago

These are amazing tips and insights! I love the “leave room for error” and your points on relationships.

Warm Regards,

7 years ago

I love this post and I love how much you can learn about yourself and the life and the world as a whole, just by pulling yourself out of routine and putting yourself in a different environment. Like you did, when I think of road trips, I get a dreamy picture in my head – old muscle cars, cut-off shorts, a world filtered through sunshine & classic rock. But you’re right – things don’t usually match up to your expectations, nothing ever goes exactly to plan and you just gotta embrace it and let yourself be human & revel in it. xo


7 years ago

I definitely suffer from wanderlust in the spring. My husband and I want to do a trip someday, but with no solid plans – no definite stops or time frame. Having no “exact” plans/backup plans definitely helps avoid disappointment. It’s so important to take everything in, the good and the bad, and embrace things as a whole. I loved this series and hope they are useful in the future. xo


7 years ago

I love everything about this. <3

7 years ago

Amazing photes!

7 years ago

I’ve never taken a road trip with a friend, but this really makes me want to.

7 years ago

These photos are hauntingly beautiful!

7 years ago

:sigh: love this <3

7 years ago

nothing like a road trip!! Really love this.

7 years ago

Bickering is normal. Those are such comforting words. I went travelling with my best friend for six weeks and I was so upset when I found there was so much tension between us! Things quickly went back to normal at home but it’s still really comforting to hear! I love everything about this post from the words to the photos. Really inspiring.


7 years ago

you got a way with photos jan <3 #dotheyhavelunchableshere

7 years ago

this post was honestly perfection <3

7 years ago

What beautiful photos and a wonderful recount of your trip — each point was another reason for me to want to take a road trip!


7 years ago

What a beautiful outlook on such a simple, and potentially mundane activity. I think we all need to focus in on these 10 things in much more aspects of our lives.

7 years ago

Inspiring post and such lovely photos.

7 years ago

I’m in love with this post i just re-read it three times! Traveling is something i will 100% do no matter what! Also, the photos are so unique i love them!

7 years ago

I dig the artwork in this post. nicely done.

7 years ago

This is drop-dead gorgeous photo editing!