From the grandeur of the great American West, the historic charm of Charleston and the Blue Ridge Highway at the peak of fall, to the honky tonks of Nashville, the high desert of Idaho and the pristine coastlines of Florida's panhandle, this year has been a busy one in life as well as in travel. It's enriched my year, expanded my art and coffee mug collections, filled my heart and refreshed my mind, Here are a few reflections:
1. THE ROADTRIP | Being part of a family that once held dear a Thanksgiving tradition of a nonstop roadtrip from south Florida to upstate New York (23 hours with four kids and two dogs in a Ford Excursion, bless my parents), the excitement and spontaneity of roadside attractions and embracing the journey are nearly innate. There's something about hitting the road that feels distinctly American. I embarked upon a 3200-mile roadtrip from Tallahassee to Las Vegas with my brother and sister early this year--it was such a special and life-changing experience that I find myself looking at photos weekly, nearly a year later.
From the fried chicken in Mobile, Alabama, catching a glimpse of a live tiger at a truck stop outside Baton Rouge, teaching my siblings about classical artchitectural motifs at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, watching the sunrise at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona and waking up to 19 degree temperatures on the first day of 2016--I'm filled with awe for this country, love for my family and gratitude for memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.
Take a roadtrip, you guys.
2. THE TRAVEL ITINERARY | While spontaneity is a luxury in which we tend to indulge more often while traveling, an itinerary provides a plan while leaving space for the unexpected. I usually call these #Goals lists--a checklist, usually scribbled on a legal pad or in a note on my phone--with places to go, things to see, recommendations, and a few random to-dos. Not only is it fun to check things off the list as you go, but it makes it easier to share recommendations after your trip is over--and there's always a collection of ideas when the "where should we eat dinner?" question arises.
Write down your #Goals--add to the list as you go--and watch your dreams come true.
3. REST | You're traveling, you're on vacation, you're out of your routine--isn't that what rest is all about? Perhaps for some, but I know that for myself, taking some time to myself is imperative in keeping my good spirits intact. Whether that's heading down to grab the continental breakfast and a cup of coffee before everyone wakes up, going for a run in the evening, or finding a park bench from which to whip out the sketchbook and mindfully acknowledge the present moment, it's important to take time to recharge--a vacation from your vacation.
Sketch, run, walk, drive, read, eat--whatever it is, take a little time to recharge yourself. Whether you're on vacation or not!
4. THE LICENSE PLATE GAME | A classic roadtrip activity for as long as I remember, I feel that so much time on the road has me stuck in a never-ending quest to encounter cars from all 50 states. Driving to school in the morning, walking across the parking lot...I'm never not mentally taking note (or taking a photo and sending it to fellow road warriors) of a hard-to-find tag. It's incredible what can bring thrill and amusement when your life becomes simplified and you're immersed in the journey.
5. THE TRIP HASHTAG | Classically millennial, I am a big believer in creating a clever trip hashtag--especially if traveling with a group, or avid photographers. For my own purposes, I love clicking back on #WeinbergsGoWest or #WeinbergsGetLowcountry to relive trip highlights--and it's a great way for friends to follow along with your adventures aside from just what you're posting.
6. THE COLLABORATIVE PLAYLIST | If anything in life deserves a soundtrack, it's time spent traveling. Spotify provides an option to build a collaborative playlist--that is, multiple users can add songs to the same playlist to create the perfect background music. For a long trip, it's also fun to see how the playlist progresses--from Jimmy Buffett in Florida to Chris Stapleton in Texas to Aaron Copland in Arizona. It also doubles as a great keepsake to pull out whenever you're feeling nostalgic--hit play, and you're back on the road.
Traveling can be exhausting, enlightening, challenging, uplifting and a million other things--the gift of being able to explore a new place, be it near or far, is something we should all try to seek out more often. Cheers to the new and unexpected!