By Nicole Christie
Helen Keller once said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." This is also what I told myself when I agreed to accompany my boyfriend of one month on a cross-continent road trip—from Seattle to Montreal. In a U-Haul. In February. With 12 trumpets and two cats.
Spurred by an employment-mandated relocation (such is life when you're dating a professional trumpet player), The Great U-Haul Caper was admittedly not the idyllic first romantic road trip upon which most couples embark. There were no leisurely drives, but rather 12 hours of virtually non-stop hauls across I-90—because there was a destination to be reached in five days. There were no quaint B&B's dishing up freshly made quiche and currant scones, but instead budget motels where powdered eggs are served (and a cat gets trapped in the bed frame). And while the circumstances may have you questioning my sanity—and possibly my level of romantic desperation—the adventure was worth every minute because, as is often said about love, "When you know, you know."
Also, when your mind is open, you learn more than you ever expected. Namely, a few "rules of the road" that help you enjoy the experience and, more importantly, each other.
Know thy Role
Designate who does what—driving, navigating, deciding where to eat the next meal, etc. You can switch roles over the course of the trip, but if you know who's in charge of what and when, you'll avoid dropped balls (and unnecessary arguments).
Figure Out Your Adventure's Soundtrack
A road trip is a great time to bond through music (think shared playlists and sing-a-longs), which often spurs memories and, subsequently, great stories and conversation. On the other hand, you may want to forgo the tunes and really talk to each other. You'll be amazed where conversation takes you—or doesn't. Whichever route you choose, it can serve as a great barometer for your relationship.
Couples Cannot Live on Fast Food Alone
Eating is one of the best parts of a road trip. Make it fun by trying to find places that reflect your joint gustatory tastes. (And if there are souvenir matches or other tchotchkes at any of your road stops, partake! This is all about memory-making.)
Have Technology, Will Travel
Smartphones, iPads, apps, and Google were built for a reason. One of them being that it's impossible to accomplish Rule #3 without being technologically armed. Trust me—this is how we found wild salmon in Bismarck, North Dakota (high-fives to Pirogue Grill) and an organic, locally sourced lunch in Chesterton, Indiana (props to Third Coast Spice Cafe).
Goals in Stone, Plans in Sand
Things are bound to veer off course (literally and figuratively). Just keep in mind that, as long as you reach your destination, it really doesn't matter how you get there. And with any luck, you'll achieve the main goal of any romantic road trip—which isn't so much what you do and where you go, but that you grow closer as a couple. Because as the wise Helen Keller also said, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart."
Photo credit: Scenic road via Shutterstock