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During the COVID-19 pandemic when travel came to a halt, my husband and I quickly realized that our annual trip abroad was not an option. I started to think of summer as an opportunity to explore my own back yard. We ventured to safe outdoor spaces across the state and even across the nation. Last year was the year that mid-century travel styles had a revival. Driving over flying was the travel method of choice in 2020. 

Traveling is specifically cultural to American history, from the 1840s’ search for gold and adventure in the wagon trains to 1956 when the Eisenhower administration authorized the development of the interstate highway system. That system added 41,0000 miles of new roads to the American landscape, and travel across the nation became accessible to all. Then, in 1965, the economic boom took place, cars became more affordable, vacations and traveling for leisure became more common, and thus “The Great American Road Trip” was born.

In 1965, the economic boom took place, cars became more affordable, vacations and traveling for leisure became more common, and thus “The Great American Road Trip” was born.

The American way of life urges us to believe that time is money and money is time, and as air travel became more affordable over the past few decades, it promised to get us places faster. The rise of affordable airlines, technology, and hundreds of hacks to find cheap flights made air travel popular. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the travel industry to a standstill. Road trips and national parks were quickly deemed the safest way to travel and explore, giving us a reason to rediscover the old tradition of road tripping.

There’s beauty found in revival, and in this case, a new generation of road trippers did what we had only seen in movies and television. We packed our cars and traveled miles to enjoy the greatness of the American landscape and the love of the open road as did those from generations past. If surviving a global pandemic taught us one thing, it is to be mindful of old traditions and the art of slowing down. Faster isn’t better, and often we miss out on a lot of beauty in exchange for speed. 

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