Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War, and her latest, Woman Enters Left, which centers on cross-country road trips.
My best friend Danielle and I have known each other for two and a half decades and, within that time, have taken more road trips than I can count. Whether in a van loaded with teenagers bound for a weekend activity or in a sensible sedan loaded with a very singable playlist of eighties hits, we’ve shared many miles. We sing, loudly and with the windows down. We eat far too many snacks. We dig out secrets, both new and old. We stop at as many crazy roadside attractions as we can find. No matter how mundane our destination, the drive is fun just because we’re together.
In my new novel, Woman Enters Left, two best friends take a road trip from New Jersey to Nevada in 1926. Ethel and Florrie’s road trip in a Model T, on mostly unpaved roads, is more of an adventure than any trip Danielle and I ever took, but it’s not all too different. They eat sandwiches and tell jokes. They catch up and reminisce and discover things about themselves and one another. As Ethel confides in her diary at the end of the trip, “I only thought about the destination. I didn’t count on the journey.”
Here are some reasons to take a road trip with your own best friend, right now.
1. To celebrate
Whether you’re celebrating a new job, a new retirement, a new baby who’s learned how to get along without Mommy for the weekend, or just the fact that you’ve been friends for so long, celebrate on the open road.
2. To reconnect
Sometimes the lure of a trip with your best friend comes when you’ve been apart or too busy for more than the occasional phone call. A long drive gives you an uninterrupted opportunity to catch up over a shared bag of Twizzlers.
3. To see what’s beyond that horizon
Maybe your best friend (like mine) is trying to hit all fifty states. You and your suitcase can help out with that!
4. To look for the country’s largest can of soup
From natural wonders to important landmarks to kooky roadside attractions, there are so many odd and beautiful things to discover driving across the United States. As if you need an excuse for a selfie with a friend!
5. To get away
We’ve all had those moments in life where we just need to step away. Your best friend can listen as she drives, pass you tissues when needed, turn up “The Safety Dance” when a little spontaneous dancing is called for, or take the next exit when she sees the sign for a winery.
6. To go toward
Sometimes it’s not what you’re leaving behind, but what you’re driving toward that steers your trip. Driving to a conference or a business meeting may not be exciting, but a long, solitary drive can be made more fun with your BFF and a pair of feather boas.
7. To brighten up that roadside motel
It doesn’t matter how outdated the bedspreads are or how dismal the selection in the vending machine. With your bestie in the room, every night on a road trip is a slumber party.
8. To discover where you came from
Maybe you’re tracking down places seen in old family snapshots or visiting the sites of memorable moments in your life. Who better to bring along than the person who already knows your story and where those places fit into the narrative?
9. To discover where you want to be
Journeys can be about self-discovery, about clearing your mind with your eyes on the horizon. Best friends are always good at knowing when you need advice and knowing when you just need gentle encouragement.
Have you hit the road with your best friend yet? If not, what are you waiting for?