A Road Trip Mindset

Bull Elk in Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Sometimes, if you don’t go into a road trip with the right mindset, it can be just as stressful as staying home and working. Friends and I poke fun at people all the time for taking hurried vacations where we witness them arguing with each other and frantically trying to reach point B as quickly as they can, passing by amazing sights and experiences along the way.

Yet when I left on my trip last week, I was anxious to get to the southwest, so I blew right through western Colorado. Once I made it to southwestern Colorado, I began trying to dodge a snow storm a few days out and found myself jumping from one site to another in a hurried pace to make it farther south to warmer temperatures. All this took a rather large toll on the photography that I set out to do, as well as exploring new places.

While trying to get some work done in Albuquerque after cutting my visit to Chaco Canyon for the first time short, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it to White Sands National Monument before the sun set like I had hoped, and I wasn’t keen on camping in a snow storm. I then began to send out CouchSurfing requests and had nearly given up and decided to get a hotel for the night when a friend graciously offered up his cabin just outside of Taos. I had never been there, and I knew I probably wouldn’t make it there before the sun set, but nevertheless, he offered it to me as long as I needed, it was free and I felt like I needed a break to regroup. I immediately packed up and headed there to get my head straight.

It took a couple of days to recover from the stress that I had already induced, but eventually I came around to realizing that I’m on the road for an entire month! I don’t need to hurry nor try and dodge weather. I’m prepared, supplied and worst case scenario, I can go grab a motel in the middle of nowhere if I absolutely have to. Even if I were to get snowed in at a campground, I have the time to spare and that’d be a great excuse to do more photography.

Such is the case at the moment. I was expecting to be back on the road right now, but a forecast of a mere 3-5 inches of snow last night apparently turned into about a foot. With only 2WD up a remote road that doesn’t get plowed, I now have no choice but to either get frustrated and upset, or make the best of an extra day at my friend’s cabin. I’ve got snow boots, warm clothes and my cameras, so I think I’ll go outside and make the best of it.

It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when you let factors that you can’t control affect your moods, such as weather. I certainly made myself guilty of it and as a result, looked back through the photos I had taken thus far on the trip and overall, wasn’t impressed. Your mood can, and will, affect your art. If you’re frustrated, grumpy and annoyed, your photos will reflect it. Overall, they won’t be that good and you’ll only get more annoyed when you look at them. Having the right mindset before going anywhere or even doing anything is something I always try to work on. When you’re carefree, loving your surroundings and going with the flow, it’ll show up in whatever you do.

As far as road trips go, of course not everyone has a month on the road, but at the same time, you don’t need a month. The most important thing is not to plan a vacation that includes more than you have time to realistically do. If you’re taking a week-long vacation, plan stuff for four days and leave three days open interspersed throughout the week so that you don’t feel so pressured to arrive at the next destination. That way you account for something interesting you didn’t think would be interesting, or something you didn’t even know would be there. If you really want to discover how to have the best vacation of your life, don’t make any plans at all. There’s always a place to stay, there’s always food to find and most importantly, there’s always something new to see that you would have never accounted for in the planning stages. Not having any plans gives you the freedom to discover the most exciting aspects of the places you’re visiting.

0 thoughts on “A Road Trip Mindset

  1. Love this blog – I am often guilty of planning out even day trips and getting impatient when trying to get from point A to B…..

  2. Love this blog – I am often guilty of planning out even day trips and getting impatient when trying to get from point A to B…..

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