-by Eric Schatz
Before we even contemplated marriage, my wife and I took an epic road trip that came to define our life together. We were both young, career-less and free from long-term relationships that previously drained us. We had been good friends for 5 or 6 years but at that point we were just a bit more than friends. It was summer in the late nineties and a string of events led us to the decision that it was time to finally go and see this vast landscape we call America.
That summer was the journey of a lifetime–four months of driving, camping, hiking, finding new friends, sunrises and sunsets, life-threatening weather, roadside repairs, and ultimately, loving each other on the scenic highways, byways, back roads, parks, preserves and forests of our glorious homeland. We were together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our only goal was to find beauty in each other and on this earth, share it together and wake up each morning only to ask, “where do you want to go today?” In romantic terms, we were finding our very own Shangri-la each new day.
Why You Should Embark on a Road Trip as a Couple
What we ended up discovering on that trip (and it still holds true today), is that traveling together brings out the best in our relationship. We’ve continued taking road trips across country, up and down the east and west coasts and north into Canada. It seems like every trip rekindles the light of that original journey and makes dreamers and lovers out of us all over again. So after distilling the highlights of our travels into a formula for marital bliss, here is why we think a good old-fashioned road trip will improve an already good relationship.
Leaving Your House Behind is Good For You
Four walls and a roof over one’s head may seem like an all-American dream, but there’s a compelling reason to “break out” of your home — researchers say leaving the rectilinear spaces and artificial lights of our man-made dwellings to enter the expanse of the outdoors for even just three days reduces stress dramatically and increases our ability to handle stressful situations better. Yes, you’ll be in a car for a spell on your road trip but you’ll always have that wide horizon ahead of you and the eternal sky above — all healthy ingredients for a loving cup.
You’ll Get Back to Basics in the Best Possible Way
Getting out of the house is only the beginning. There are no “honey-do lists” on the open road, only bucket lists. Projects, repairs, home improvements and obligations to the community where you live and work are on hold. Don’t worry, the world is not going to end while you’re gone. Of course, domestic duties still need your attention. But what does the traveler need to do to take care of the day-to-day stuff? Eat, sleep, put gas in the car, plan for fun, find a destination. All that other homey stuff is in your rearview mirror and your life has just gotten a lot simpler.
Oh and no need to have meetings and take votes on decision-making. It’s just the two of you. Why not agree to take turns with having the final say? Or agree on categories each gets to decide? “It’s my day to pick out where we eat and yours to pick the entertainment.”
Communication Becomes Easier on the Road
When life is reduced to the basics, the complex discussions you used to have about bills, obligations, meetings, and such all but disappear. Now you’ve got one person to satisfy (unless you count yourself, then that makes two), and the open road at your disposal. Road tripping and adventuring as a couple also become the bread and butter of good conversation. You can talk about the meaning of life, explore your best and worst memories, discuss where to eat dinner. No interruptions. No obligations.
Road Trips are Romantic
Seriously. Sunset picnics, secluded hot springs, long stretches of back road rambling. You won’t be able to resist each other. Wasn’t it Woodie Guthrie who said, “This land is your land, this land is my land?” If you and your honey see the American landscape that way, then you both own it and can get away with whatever you want, just about anywhere you want. Don’t forget to live each moment fully and love the one you’re with completely. You’ll never forget the romantic power and freedom that a road trip provides.
New Places and Faces will Keep Things Fresh
It’s easy to be your true self when everyone you meet has a new face and their time with you is fleeting. It’s just as easy to find beauty and wonder in the new places you encounter every day. On the road, you don’t know the reputations and histories of people and places you encounter. You can’t see all the biases and judgments the locals harbor for each other or their community. You’ll find each place as fresh as the day it was discovered and each face a potentially new friend.
Keeping things fresh is what every couple tries to achieve at some point in their relationship. It’s how we survive and thrive when the flash of love we enjoyed in our first days as lovers has receded into the distant past. New faces and places bring our attention back to the freshness and newness of a love that has deepened over time. Later, we can revisit these moments as the ones that help us stay grounded in the stuff that really makes us happy.
You’ll Learn to Work Together
Assuming you’re not King Abdullah with a fortune in oil revenue to fortify your trip, you and your spouse will have to use your resources wisely to get the most out of your journey. It will take the two of you to figure out how to make the only groceries you could find in that old mining town of make do for a nourishing meal out in the empty desert under an endlessly silent and sparkling night sky.
For all its wonders, the open road certainly has more than its fair share of challenges.That’s why you’ll need each other to figure out how to rise up to those challenges and conquer them together. When you put two loving minds together to solve problems, the solutions often reflect the care you have for each other.
You Belong to Each Other
Ultimately, you have to realize that no matter what you do together, whether it’s driving the kids to soccer camp or driving to the Redwoods, you and the one you love belong to each other. Traveling is a great way to experience that on so many levels. Maybe you won’t be together 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but for all intents and purposes, you’re stuck together, for better or for worse. All that constant companionship has a remarkably eternal quality that allows you to forget the amount of time you’re spending with your love and just enjoy being together.
Ready to Wander Together? You Won’t Regret it!
In the end, it’s about overcoming obstacles, strengthening your relationship, and discovering the world together. The moments that we still remember from a trip that cemented our relationship more than 20 years ago? Waking up to the rising sun casting a rosy glow over my true love’s face, excited conversations while mapping a route to some natural wonder that we’d never seen before, and crazy adventures that I just can’t share on this blog or anywhere else. All those moments we got to experience together because we decided a long time ago in a fit of youthful passion that we belonged to each other.
Traveling magic can make these moments come alive again for couples in love. It’s the honeymoon effect without the pressure to make it all perfect. Road trips can happen over and over again, each one as different as the times you find yourselves in. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to arrive. Take your sweetie by the hand, and get ready to find each other in all the places you discover along the way.
Need some more couples road trip inspiration? Check out these books (click on the photo for more info):
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