The Joy of the Open Road

For the majority of us, our cars are used to get us from A to B. Unfortunately, or realistically I should say is that A to B for most is from home to work, home to the supermarket or home to some other destination which proves of no real excitement.

The beauty of road tripping is turning B into a destination far away and while it may be time-consuming and have its ups and downs, like car insurance renewal, flat tires and maybe breakdowns- its is better to look at it optimistically and come to the realization that you will begin an experience like no other. This Volvo commercial pictures it so beautifully:

Don’t get me wrong, flying obviously has its many and obvious benefits but with them come the hassles of being there on time, breathing recirculated air with 100 other people, being told to sit when and where you have to (I always feel like a child again), security hassles, baggage restrictions and unless you get lucky, soaring prices.

From my experiences, the best aspects of road tripping are being able to experience the deep insides of states or provinces that you otherwise will overlook when flying at 35,000ft.

I had been lucky enough to travel through America many times previously. I come here for the big commercial snow business fair and love backpacking with friends.  What I saw, while still great was a pretty standard American Holiday (New York, Miami, San Diego, L.A, San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc) and all the gimmicks and cultures and snow fun of both the West and East coast.

My road trip, while much less glamorous and cheap proved to be without fail a much more enjoyable experience. Driving down through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta Canada, with all that great snow, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and back up through South and North Dakota showed what I believed to be the ‘real’ America.

These were people who had genuinely never met those from my homeland and were authentic in their interest in myself and my friends and why exactly we were visiting their states or hometowns.

To be honest, we didn’t really have a reason, we just drove south because we could. Seeing the sights that most chose to overlook is just as exciting as experiencing a new culture and our desert road trip was amazing! For example, seeing Amish villages in Montana or being barricaded by a herd of Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park Wyoming.

Maybe I’m just naive or geographically secluded but I had never even heard of some places before I visited America. As you know, I love traveling and running outdoors and as it turns out I have had some of the greatest wildlife experiences driving through those two states and none of it would have happened if I had not suggested the idea of a road trip to some friends while living in Canada.

The little things which are never fully appreciated and overlooked add to the pro’s list of road tripping. Convenience is key here. Leave on your own schedule, take as much stuff as you want (or can fit on your roof), blast your music and sing it as loudly and as out of tune as possible, stop and walk around when you like and enjoy the company of your friends (or music if doing it alone).

You know what? take this Friday off, and drive as far as you can all day. Do you know how far you could drive in one day with the right music and attitude? Go ahead and see what 95% of other travelers don’t!

5 sights in South America that gave me goosebumps

It’s hard not to sound a bit pretentious when talking about South America. While thousands of backpackers troop through Southeast Asia for what is essentially a series of very cheap holidays, it seems that there is still some kudos up for grabs for those who’ve donned a dodgy alpaca hat and traveled up and down The Andes. This is so different than what I experienced while checking out my Maine bucket List which was also an amazing experience.

Every single country has some amazing natural wonder that will completely blow you away. Now, I’m not the hiking-boots-North-Face-wearing outdoorsy type; I’m much more your average beer-and-flip-flops kind of backpacker. But this part of the world is so truly unique that it will dazzle even the hardest to impress traveler. Here are my top 5 jaw-dropping natural sights that made me feel incredibly lucky to be standing exactly where I was.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The world’s driest desert runs along the north-west coast of Chile. Climb to the top of the biggest sand dune in San Pedro de Atacama and you’re met with the sight of sweeping sand dunes and blue skies as far as the eye can see. This sort of things is not for you when you’re planning your family vacation trip. The eerie quiet makes you feel very far from the rest of the world.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

This is a bright white 250 km2 glacier in Patagonia, in the very south of Argentina. It advances at a rate of a few meters each day, meaning that visitors can watch five-story chunks of ice fall off and crash into the water below. The scale is unimaginable and the sounds are explosive.

Zona Cafetera, Colombia

The verdant coffee-growing region of central-west Colombia puts even the rice paddies of Bali to shame. Green rolling hills, winding roads… this is to Colombia what the Provence is to France.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Forget bungee jumping – exhilaration is walking on a wobbly wooden platform into the middle of an 82-meter drop looking down into a raging abyss of water. I remember well when I started out with myn rock climbing hobby and I’m glad I could use that experience here. This is while being pounded by spray so fierce that you have to grip onto a flimsy rail for dear life. The following Expedia video tells it all.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

In southwest Bolivia, over 10,000 km2 of land is salt flats – the ground is a bright white sheet of salt stretching into the horizon. Only two other two colors exist, the bright blue of the sky and the pink of the flamingos that live here. I did not include this in my earlier post on the twelve Natural Wonders you must have seen before you die, but to be honest, I should! This is possibly the strangest place on earth.

If you’ve been thinking about South America but aren’t really sure then please take my advice: go. Traveling around is easy and there’s more to discover than you might realize.