|Our Spain Portugal Route|
|Girona, one of many cities we never would have seen without a road trip.|
It seems that the world is heading towards less young drivers (with the increased availability of car services and EU and US standards for youth driving permits being onerous and getting worse). And, with self-driving cars, perhaps we're just moving away from human drivers in general.
|Nightime view from the entrance to our hotel in Zaragoza.|
However, the mystique of the Great (American) Roadtrip exists for a reason. I can attest that driving yourself (or being lazy and having your spouse drive you) is one of the best ways to see many parts of the world. This year, E and I have done several great roadtrips (Northern US and Canada, Argentina, Southern US, currently in the middle of one through Spain and Portugal, with hopes for a short one in Iceland, and then the southern cross-country route from ATL back to the SF bay area to complete the full tour).
There's something very independent about a roadtrip -- you are there, in the foreign place that you are visiting, and yet, you aren't. You are in your own vehicular bubble, with the people and things, and food and drink, and habits and language, and music or audiobooks that you've brought, which insulate you from the outside world.
Frankly, it's more comfortable than fully immersing yourself in a foreign place. Assuming you've got the car, know the rules of the road, and can read some of the local language and have access to decent maps (thank you Google Fi) road trips just require way less foreign overhead than the same distance on public transit. They also are a way off the beaten track to see sights and experience things that most travelers on the mass transit path will never see, which oddly gives you access to experiences that are much *more* culturally challenging than those available on the well traveled path.
|Open road on the way to Portugal.|
In the US/Canada and Argentina, our road-trip habits were totally different, mainly because the interesting cities were so much further apart so we had to drive very long stretches in one day, but also because of Argentina siesta culture and the ease of the US/Canada all hours eating culture.
When we look back on our sabbatical year, we will definitely think of road trips as one of the best things about it (all told, we're looking at about 16+ weeks on road trips this year).