I haven't always been a huge fan of long road trips. To be honest, it was just an incredibly intimidating thought. I couldn't imagine spending endless hours in a car with anyone as an adult. Perhaps it was all those family car trips in the '70s that left me a bit traumatized. My mother had this insane fear of rest stops so we traveled with a bucket. Yes, a bucket.
So when my boyfriend and I decided to take a road trip to Miami, Florida (from Washington, DC), there was a mix of excitement and panic. I LOVED the idea of going on vacation with him. I loathed the thought of getting there. This would really be a test of our relationship. If all didn't go well, I might come back a single, albeit sun-kissed, woman.
Despite those fears, we planned our 20-hour trek. I didn't know it at the time, but that trip essentially sealed the deal on our romance. Here's how.
1. I put in the prep work. We decided to take a cruise leaving from Miami. And being the budget-conscious 20-year-olds we were at the time, we decided to drive to save the plane fare. Though I wasn't exactly giddy with excitement about the long drive ahead, I was determined to make it as fun as possible. So we went to one of those kitschy stores that had games and fun books on CDs for road trips.
2. I embraced a sense of adventure. We didn't have any hotels booked. We figured we would stop when we were tired. Playing the prima donna card and demanding everything be perfectly planned would have been a drag for the both of us. You never know what traffic is going to be like or how long an unexpected stop at the world's biggest ball of yarn will take. It made the journey relaxing, fun, and whimsical.
3. I stroked the back of his head while driving. This may sound ridiculous, but when I sensed he was tense, I would reach over. It was a small, simple gesture, but one year later, he told me he always loved that. It just showed that I cared.
4. I put in my time behind the wheel. It would have been easy for me to pout and complain about how much I hate driving on the highway. He would have taken the whole load himself. But I made sure to remind him when it was my turn and I took the wheel (despite my terror of semi-trucks). The result? We felt like a real team.
5. Like water off a duck's back, I didn't let a major mishap bother me. We arrived to the port in Miami 20 minutes late. We missed the boat. Literally. He was devastated, feeling the trip was ruined for me. I didn't think it was such a big deal. It was my first trip to the Sunshine State. I had never been to Disney World or Universal Studios, so I convinced him that Orlando should be our new destination. To say we had a blast would be an understatement.
The drive back to DC was much of the same. We reminisced about our favorite parts of the trip, stopped at roadside stands, and just enjoyed being with each other. Ultimately, it was my "roll with it" attitude that made him fall for me even more. And to be honest, I felt the same way about him. I love that he was so intent on making sure I had a good time. Another surefire sign we were meant for each other? I didn't want to kill him once on that epic driving trip. I knew he was a keeper!
Now that we are married with kids and typical family pressures, I like to think back on that carefree road trip. It's a great reminder of what I love most about him.
What's the best road trip you've ever taken with your husband or boyfriend?
Image via Adam Hester/Corbis