How to Road Trip the Right Way In College
If I look back on some of my favorite moments from the past two years of college, many of them involve being on the road traveling with friends. Really when I think about it, the people that I’ve been on road trips with have become some of my closest friends in college!
For me, finally having the independence to actually take a road trip has been incredible. But having that kind of freedom in college has the potential to be dangerous. You hear all the time about the crazy spring break stories and are forced to wonder how you can still travel, have fun, and be safe all at the same time.
One of the most powerful trips I have ever been on was recently when I drove with my college church group from Amarillo, Texas to the beautiful state of Tennessee. It took about 17 hours until we got to our first lodging area, which seems like it would be pretty miserable. On the contrary, it was amazing. Why? How? Well, at the very beginning of the trip, we had invited God to come on the road with us.
“And He said, ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14
Now this may sound a little silly, but it was super simple. Before we loaded up in vans, we prayed and prayed for God to be with us in every stage of our journey. The entire week of the trip and at every stop along the way whether we were camping in the mountains or in a hotel in the city, we were constantly asking our Father to join us. I believe it’s for this sole reason that about 40 college students who barely knew each other became friends over the course of one really long drive.
How can you make the most out of your road trip experience?
Be open to God’s plan for your trip.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes you take the wrong exit or run into a lot of traffic or even get a flat tire. There is something beautiful in knowing that God has a plan for every aspect of your life, including when you’re on a road trip and have to stop every two hours because someone else drank four cups of coffee before getting in the van.
This summer, I had to be open to the fact that at almost every stop on our way to Tennessee, people switched what van they were in so that each person would have get to know a new carload full of people every couple of hours. Initially, I was disturbed by the concept, fully content with getting to know the same five people for 17 hours, however, rolling down the road, meeting new people at each stop, and accepting that we were going to let God plan many of our steps (including who we sat next to in the vans) ended up being really fun.
With this kind of mindset, it makes is a lot easier to accept change on your trip. Then, instead of troubleshooting and stressing out, you can focus on the good that God is doing while you're on the road.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
Be open to communication.
I’m the kind of person who loves to just drive, listen to music, and be perfectly content in the silence. But when you invite God on your road trip, what kind of relationships could you also be furthering? Take the time that you have with a captive audience and ask questions, especially if you’re traveling with people that you don not know very well. Open yourself up to more than just the surface questions and spend time investing in the people you are with.
During my trip to Tennessee, there was one girl that I was struggling to communicate openly with and it seemed like our competing personalities and goals were going to clash the entire trip. Then finally, on the last day, we had a chance to pick a partner and pray with them. I fully believe that God put her right beside me and urged me to go and set aside my feelings and my pride and just sit and be open with her. After talking for a while, I found out that we actually had a lot in common with our life experiences and I was able to share with her a part of my testimony that I had difficulty telling anyone else.
God provided an opening for us to find out what we had in common so that our relationship and our faiths could grow that day; getting to share my testimony about freedom from addiction with her (the last person I thought I would ever talk to about such a thing) was a completely unexpected blessing.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broke.” Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
Be open to new experiences.
One of the most exciting things about traveling to a new place is being able to see things you have not seen before and try things you have never tried. However, that can also be one of the scariest parts of your trip.
I was so nervous (if I'm being honest), when I hopped into a van with some people that I still barely knew and headed to the river to go cliff diving. Part of me was nervous about potentially making a fool out of myself with my new friends who seemed so much more experienced than me - and I mean come on, how silly is that? So instead of letting feelings of negativity invade my mind, I let myself acknowledge and be exhilarated by the beauty of God's creation and the opportunity to try something crazy and new.
If you never get out of your comfort zone, how are you ever going to grow? When you invite God on your road trip, it’s really cool to find new ways to glorify Him, whether you are checking out the local geography, eating some food you have never tried before, or partaking in another activity you would not have otherwise gotten to do back home.
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” -Colossians 3:17
I started doing all these things on trips because I was amazed at the way God worked in my own life through it. After that road trip, I took another one with my roommate, Camille, and loved seeing the way our relationship grew from simply being on the road together for nine hours and inviting God to ride along with us. Investing time in my road trip partners’ lives while pursuing Jesus was such a blessing this summer; a blessing that I look forward to enjoying even more throughout the rest of my college career.
// image via.