California, Greater LA (Day Trips), Los Angeles, USA, VW Road Trip

Finding Peace on the Road

Road trips are a pretty romanticized part of travel. Add to that romanticism a vintage 1970’s VW van, no Internet or cell phone reception and the only company your significant other, and you could end up with either war or peace. We found peace.

When we first talked with Bill, our VW camping expert, he told us to zip around the coast near Santa Barbara and slowly drive back down through Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway. After three long haul driving days, our last day was exactly his type of trip, and now, I can understand why. The carefree attitude we’d acquired on our trip mixed with the ease and comfort of the camper van, made the journey not just a coastal drive but a way to experience the coast unique from any way I have before.

Our pace slowed dramatically and our frame of mind changed. Instead of racing to get to the next great landmark or vista point, we really took in our surroundings and used all the vans amenities. While admiring the waves rolling in, we didn’t just stop the car and snap a few photos, we parked the car right on the side of the road and cooked lunch. It was incredible to be able to eat and cook a hot meal right on the beach. In less than five minutes, we had popped the top, opened the side of the van and we had our own private beach front restaurant. So cool!

That was when it hit me. This road trip, like so many other trips I’ve made, isn’t about the great sites I’ve seen but the experiences I have while seeing them. Yes, Big Sur is incredible. It will live up to every expectation you have and is definitely a place I can easily recommend to anyone who loves the coast. But for us, Big Sur will now be remembered as a trip back in time. We didn’t have cell phone reception everywhere we camped- or Internet- or television. We had each other- we had the sounds of little blue birds and the ocean- we had long talks staring up at thousands of stars and belly aching laughs while being newbie campers. And, of course, we had the van.

Feeling very attached to my new friend, the van, I was now considering dozens of shorter road trips near LA, that by traveling in one of these vans, the trip would be intensified. Joshua Tree, the Apple Farm, North County San Diego… the options are endless. And, there I go again- planning my next trip before this one has even come to an end. What can I say? I’m a travel dreamer– as romantic or cliche as that sounds.