Traveling as a college student is a great way to have a fun, relaxing weekend away from campus to clear your head and give yourself a well-earned break. However, due to its stigma of being a rather costly activity, travel as a college student is an endeavor that many are quick to deem unrealistic.
Beyond rising flight prices, factors such as lack of trip preparation, transportation, COVID-19 restrictions and other problems, are all to blame for air travel being out of the question.
However, there are many other ways to travel both alone and with friends. Trade that plane ticket for a pair of keys and find out why a road trip is your perfect next escapade.
Your ideal road trip can be anything you want it to be. Focus your trip around sightseeing, listening to your favorite tunes on the radio or just enjoying a leisurely drive to a bucket-list destination.
Miles Henderson, a senior political science and economics major, is an experienced road tripper himself. He has enjoyed taking road trips all over New England for the past four years and recently went on a lengthier excursion, where he drove for over 24 hours and crossed the Canadian border to reach Montreal.
“This was my most spontaneous and easy trip, but all of my college road trips have been pretty manageable,” said Henderson. With quite a bit to say on behalf of road trips, Henderson expressed his fondness for this way of travel.
“Go on road trips! Lots of time in the car with good friends and good music is not wasted time, and it’s a pretty affordable way to make a lasting memory,” said Henderson.
Road trips attract college students due to the ease in taking one. Certain trips require little planning and afford complete travel freedom while remaining at a budget-friendly cost.
Meghan Loughry, RecWell’s head coordinator of Adventure Trips, an offering of the Adventure Program which allows students to immerse themselves in travel outdoors, states that “Taking road trips are a generally affordable way to gain a greater appreciation for the world outside of your community. It's also very empowering to be able to carry everything you need in one vehicle.”
Planning ahead can be essential for certain road trips. Having a set destination can help make the ride there more interesting, especially by providing sightseeing opportunities.
Henderson was sure to note that some preparation is critical. “Make sure you have a place to stay and know what time you have to check in and check out so you don’t limit your trip.”
While it may seem appealing to dive into your road trip head first, taking the time to craft a basic plan can make all the difference. Road trips are unique in that even with planning. Being prepared to adapt your original plan will help in the long-run as well. Take Henderson's advice: “Don’t overthink it: no matter what happens, you’re going to have an adventure.”
Looking to head out on a road trip but don't know where to start? It doesn’t have to be far from home. At a reasonable distance of just over 2.5 hours from College Park, going with friends on a drive down to Ocean City, Maryland for a weekend is a fun option. Ocean City has beaches, nightlife, shopping and museums.
Bridges Restaurant or Dock House are both restaurants located in Ocean City that provide waterfront dining. Ocean City is a great option for those looking to experiment with a road trip while also staying close to campus.
Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway is a leading road trip location and is around 2.5 hours away from College Park. Gaze upon the majestic cascading White Rock Falls or visit the Cahas Knob Overlook and experience some of nations most iconic Mountain View’s, the options to experience nature's wonders are endless.
Elly Bourgoine, a freshman government and politics major, has prior experience with road travel. “Instead of having one experience in one place, going on a road trip allows you to take multiple stops and see many different places. You have a greater opportunity to be exposed to different cultures,” Bourgoine said.
With the constant academic and social intensity of college, getting a break away from campus is exactly what one needs to reset. “It's liberating to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and to really focus on the present moment,” Loughry said.
Do some brainstorming, grab some friends, create a plan and hit the road to set off on a great first road-tripping experience. Although it may be a leap into the unknown, it may turn out to be a good one.