It’s amazing, sometimes, how easily we forget how big, how expansive our country is. The time it takes to drive across one state or another is not inconsequential and each time the scenery is worth paying attention to. The diversity of the landscapes always impresses me.
From the sweeping agricultural plains to the industrial and commercial centers of urban life, to the majestic mountains or coastline it never ceases to teach. Every trip I take, I learn something new. Either about the area I’m visiting, or the region I’m traveling through, the history and culture of the area presents a new opportunity to learn more about my fellow countrymen. It gives me a better idea of how the things I do fit into the world, and how we all relate to each other.
The other thing is the opportunity to travel across rather than over. While flying is faster, it’s certainly not rewarding. The hassles of security stops and checks is inconvenient, especially with the false sense of security it provides. Traveling on the road can be much more rewarding if you have the time. You get to see the country, meet the people, and experience the contours of the land, something that’s lost at 40,000 feet.
Another perspective is the people. You learn so much from the characters you meet and where they’re from. It can help look at things from another angle and learn what kinds of perceptions exist and why. These help us build better products and provide better services. Not just because they’re cool, but because they are useful. Because people need or want them.
I write this on the return leg of a road trip to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Over a week on the road getting a full dose of fresh perspective has reset my direction and attitude. The results are the only thing left to focus on, and I need to thank this experience and the trip itself for the bulk of that new thinking.
Have you done a long distance road trip lately? What have you learned that can help others?