5 Tips for an Artful Road Trip
How do you keep a road trip enjoyable? I love a road trip. There is always something lovely to see if you are looking for it. But, this is only true if you have the mindset to be able to appreciate the artful things around you as you drive. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These tips are to help you to be able to behold the best along the road.
I have practiced these tips as a solo traveler, as a couple, and as a kid, so I know they work for any type of traveler. Here are my five tools my husband and I used long before the kids came along:
1. Seed Your Plans:
Start by doing a little research. I usually scour books (yes, books) and the web for interesting items along the road. Some things to note are local artist’s shops, roadside oddities, and street art. You can through Instagram for geotagged images to help you out.
For any given day, I usually make sure I plan for about 2-4 known possible sites per day of driving. I also make sure to have a variety of types of sites: those that you can drive by, slight detours, could stop, and must stop. Once you are on the road, you might find you only have time for a drive by. Other times, you legs might be telling you that you NEED to stop for a little bit.
2. Make Art Everyone’s Job:
There are road trips that are seemingly just a bore, such as long flat road trips along locked down turnpikes. There will be moments where there is just a whole lot of the same thing to see. But, life is in how you see it. You could either see the road as “tree, barn, tree, barn, tree, barn…” or you could choose to look for the most lovely tree or find the oldest barn. Grab a phone or an iPad and give everyone an assignment. Good assignments could be:
- find a cloud that shows an animal
- take pictures of as many different greens as you can
- take a picture that tells a story
- find a cloud that looks like your pet
3. Look out for Surprises:
In school, we had a teacher that banned all media on bus trips. He was convinced that looking down meant you would forget to look up. While media can be a useful tool for road trips, make sure to spend an equal amount of time looking out your windows. Challenge yourself to find at least one lovely surprise each day.
4. Draw, Sketch, Capture:
Cameras are sometimes the way to capture moments you don’t want to forget. That is certainly true when you are sitting in the passenger seat of a speeding car.
Some research, however, suggests that snapshots are not necessarily the best way to actually remember an event. Think about what happens when you take a photo of something you that excited you? “Oh, that is so pretty. I want to remember that. Let me grab a picture. Alright, now onto something else.” Often you move away from the scene without really looking at it.
Take time on a trip to capture sites using a different tool. Drawing or sketching is my tool of choice. Drawing requires time and invite close observation. For the artistically fearful, try just writing words to remember the scene. Free writing, or just writing what comes to mind can work. Or you could use ekphrasis, an art history term for writing everything you see without commentary. Or just capture a few emotions on a scrap of paper. These actions will make you spend more time with whatever has captured your thoughts.
Social media is certainly one way to share your beautiful travels along the road. But, also try to share it in person with your fellow travelers. Each evening, we try to recount what was the most lovely, surprising element of the day. You might find that you gain new insight into your fellow travelers or on the sites you just visited.