By Evan Caldon, ENO College Brand Ambassador.
Instead of heading down to Panama City Beach, Florida/South Padre, Texas/Daytona Beach, Florida to unleash the wild side (like most college students do for Spring Break), I decided to hop in my 1995 Toyota Camry (yes, I named her Tammy the Camry) and head West. I packed up my Gregory Baltoro 65 pack, along with my smaller Sunature daypack, my two ENO Hammocks, a sleeping bag, a tent, some dry goods from the grocery store, a cooler of perishables, and took off on this route:
La Crosse, WI → Minnesota → Iowa → Nebraska → Denver, CO.
We then decided to head South/further West through Colorado’s many State Parks, and finally out into Utah where we went to Arches National Park. That was as far West as we made it! On the way home, we went into Wyoming – where we saw a lot of buffalo/bison, cows, and horses. Ayers Natural Bridge is a must see if you’re ever in Wyoming! Gorgeous. We then drove straight East and headed back to La Crosse. South Dakota’s Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands were pretty darn cool as well.
Here are my Top Ten reasons to make your next Spring Break an unforgettable Road Trip like mine:
1) You’re Broke
If you’re a broke college kid (or just trying to keep down on costs), but still want to see the country, you must make a road trip! Get some groceries (mostly dry goods), and have a smaller cooler for perishables (hardboiled eggs, milk, juice, yogurt, etc.). Between gas, groceries, beer, and eating out once or twice (that’s the secret – DO NOT EAT OUT), you can take a road trip across half the United States (3,500 miles) for around $250-$300 (that’s with two people… Imagine splitting gas between four people…).
2) You’re filled to the brim with WANDERLUST!
One amazing thing about the country that we live in (the U.S.) is how easily we can travel between states. In other places in the world, you have to present documents at each border, which is comparable to getting stopped at each state border and being required to present our passports, visas, and state why we wish to enter that state. But, we don’t have to! We can just get in a car and go. Nothing is holding us back.
The U.S. is massive. Honestly, you cannot even fathom its size until you road trip across half of it. There is SO much that we can barely understand and experience all of the different climates, peoples, terrains, and geographical anomalies! And to think of what is out there in this world… It just blows my mind. But it also really excites me, because there is SO much to see, and SO much to do. The great thing about life is that there is SO much life to experience.
3) Sleeping is FREE!
Sleeping in National/State/Local Parks are FREE (most of the time). Or if they are not free, the cost is very minimal for a campsite (at the nicest and most expensive parks, the highest campsite cost will be about $25). Most campsites are in the free-$15 price range.
4) Waking Up
In an ENO Hammock, or a tent… Is one of the best, most lovely, peaceful, and comforting feelings in life. With the sun shining down on your face (as you’re wrapped snugly in your sleeping bag), or illuminating your tent making the inside all warm and cozy, you sure realize just how simple life is. Waking up in nature is a relaxing, serene, and energizing way to start your day full of adventures!
5) No Itinerary!
You are truly experiencing FREEDOM! Just drive, drive, and drive some more… Until you see something that captures your attention because it is beautiful, serene, or just a spectacular sight – because those are the times that you will most vividly remember. Then you can just pull over, and go off and explore, for as long as you want! Having no itinerary is a wonderful way to feed your feeling of wanderlust.
6) Confused about where you’re going in life?! (Shhh, we all are – no one has it together :-))
We are all constantly trying to learn about who we are, and where we are going in life. But the funny thing that no one tells us (and my young brain figured out just some time ago) is that NO ONE DOES! We are all on this journey called life, and it throws everyone curveballs. How we adapt and change to overcome adversity is what truly makes/forms us into who we are meant to become.
Sometimes being out in nature in this day and age, we still have a GPS, iPhones, and other gadgets/gear to tell us exactly how to get from one destination to the next. Back in the day, humans used a compass… Without the NEED of a compass in this day and age, we simply rely on these gadgets. But, I fully believe that we ALL have our compass within every one of us. And travel is what guides us. That inner compass is what teaches us so much about ourselves. Any moment of travel, spontaneity, adventure, or exploration is our inner compass working and helping us find our direction/way in the world. Follow your compass.
7) Meeting Awesome People
Ever met someone on the street? In a bar? At school? At the gas station? Well, meeting people on the road is completely different! Different in an awesome way!! Who else takes road trips? People that have many of the same similar goals, interests, and passions as we do. Meeting, communicating, and learning about their stories is both a privilege and a learning experience. Be sure to listen attentively, and pick up tips, get their advice/guidance, ask questions, and have a great time getting to know one another! Because that’s a beautiful thing about life – being able to get to know people and connect with them on things that you both are commonly interested in or passionate about.
8) Creating Memories
Being cooped up in a car with people for an extended period can create conflict, but it’s always easy to resolve by effectively communicating together because whomever you choose to go on a road trip with are people that care about you deeply. Whether they are your family members, parents, significant other, roommates, or friends, they are there to create and share experiences with you that will last a lifetime.
9) Staying Healthy
Everyone lives a hectic life, I fully see and understand that. The vast majority of people live their lives worrying about money, their futures, and the daily frustrations of life. But, without staying healthy; none of that matters. Also, no one wants to be out of shape (at least no one that I have had the pleasure of talking to). We all desire to be fit (in our own eyes). One of the easiest ways to stay in shape that is often overlooked is outdoor recreation! Hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, etc. These things keep not only our physical bodies in shape, but they force our minds to stay healthy. There have been countless studies stating that being outside for just 30 minutes a day taking a walk through nature boosts your productivity, attentiveness, alertness, and your overall happiness!! So what is stopping you from GETTING OUTSIDE?! Only you are, just remember that. Make a choice, get out there, and stay fit.
10) What do you want to remember in 5, 10, 25, or 50 years down the road?
This is a question that you must answer yourself… We are not the same. Everyone is different. We have known this our whole lives! So why would it change now? I would not want to remember the drunken, glamour parties that go on during the stereotypical American Spring Break. It will be a much better story to tell your children about an unforgettable road trip you took during your college days exploring the countryside and learning about who you were. Or better yet, get out there and take your kids on their very first road trip!
Go Live life, and follow your wanderlust filled heart (Oh and don’t forget your Hammock :-)).