Why road trips are good for the body, soul, and spirit

Road trips. They’re so full of the promise of adventure, of seeing new places and meeting new people and learning new things.

Our most recent road trip involved family from Boise who traveled with Dan and me to northern California where we were part of a surprise party for a sister-in-law.

The route from central Oregon to the small Victorian village of Ferndale is no ordinary, everyday drive.

It passes through the Cascade Range, across a valley, over the coastal range, and past giant redwoods to the rugged Oregon coast before crossing the border into California.

Since we needed to kill some time before we were due at the surprise dinner party, we played ‘tourist’ along the way. We crossed multiple suspension bridges high in the redwoods at Trees of Mystery.

We walked the length of the Crescent City jetty where 700 dolosse form an interlocking and slightly flexible breakwater (a dolos is a 42-ton concrete block).

(He just said something funny)

From there, we watched for elk and snapped photos at the Carson Mansion in Eureka.

Carson Mansion — Eureka, Calif

Our northern California sister-in-law was properly stunned, which made it that much more fun. We shared meals with our nieces and their husbands and children. And all too soon, it was time to return home.

BILs, SILs, nieces, and nephews-in-law — one can never have too many

Dan and I headed home by way of the Oregon coast. We camped at Winchester Bay and walked along the marina and had fabulous fish tacos at Double D’s Diner and drove out past the sand dunes.

Winchester Bay, Oregon

What I love about traveling with Dan is … well, the part about ‘with Dan.’ We’re interested in the same things—in getting outdoors, exploring, soaking up history, eating good food, and making un-erasable memories.

Did you know there are significant health and well-being benefits involved with road tripping? Listed here are a few:

Provides opportunity for reflection

Road trips offer the perfect opportunity to be still and reflect. Take advantage of the time to think, and read, and journal, and daydream about all there is to be grateful for.

Reduces stress levels

Positive human connections can lower stress levels and improve mood. And what better way to connect with your people than while confined to a seat-belt in a vehicle, right?

Improves mental health 

Road trips provide the opportunity to laugh, sing, listen to music, or connect through conversation while surrounded by the views out our windshields. And all that laughing, conversing, and singing contributes to good mental health and general well-being.

Strengthens the immune system

Studies recommend spending time in nature to improve your immune system. Driving through outdoor-friendly places provides opportunity for camping, paddling, fishing, surfing, skiing, hiking a nature-full trail, or simply sitting at a picnic table overlooking a wild ocean—all immunity-strengthening activities.

Enhances our education

I’ll be the first to say that history in school was semi-boring when we had to memorize all those dates of all those events. But reading about the history in places we visit is fascinating.

For example, in 1964, when Alaska had that 9.2 magnitude earthquake, it sent tsunamis across the Pacific. The small town of Crescent City, Oregon, suffered the greatest damage, not counting Alaska. Four waves hit the area—the last one cresting nearly 21 feet—killing 11 people, devastating 30 city blocks, and wrecking 289 homes (summarized from 5 sources and the web).

Now that’s some fascinating history.

Creates memories

I tend to take an ample number of photos while traveling. After thinning them out, they’re permanently on my phone or laptop. I’ve printed some to post in a travel scrapbook, along with ticket stubs and postcards and other memorabilia. But online photo albums and travel memorabilia books aside, there is an entire photo book of burbling memories in my head.


What if you’re pretty much housebound? What if you have no one to do road trips with? Or what if you’re a single parent working a couple of jobs just to feed your kiddos?

While not all of us can do road trips, most of us can practice taking good care of our bodies, souls, and spirits. You may not be able to cross the country or even cross the state on a back country road. But what can you do to allow yourself time for reflection, connection with other people, laughing and singing and listening to music and holding conversations, getting outdoors—even if it’s only on your back deck?

What’s on your list that’s good for your body, soul, and spirit?


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  1. Linda Hess

    Now this is what I like! Linda and I have been blessed with 60 years of road trips. And we aren’t through yet. Just got back from four days in Ya hots. That’s Yachats. 🥸
    Thank you Marlys for all you do to encourage us.

    • Wow … 60 years of road trips. I’d love to hear about some of your favorites.

      And who, if they’re not from Oregon, knows how to say Yachats correctly?! Thank you for the pronunciation lesson!

  2. sally

    You areally are the adventurers supreme! I love all your pics and would love to do the up in the trees walk some day. One question – how come all the women are blonde? I have been meaning to ask you that for years!

    • Sally, you would love the up in the trees walk — we were amazed at the “construction” of the suspension bridges and little tree decks.

      As for the blonde women … the Johnson men tended to marry blondes and some of them had blonde daughters. Smile.

      • sally

        So do you think it would be OK for someone (that would be me) who (a) doesn’t have a good head for heights and (b) gets motion sick? Please say yes!

        • Marlys Lawry

          Absolutely yes, Sally. Just don’t look down … or go with Dan who likes to sway things that he shouldn’t be swaying!

  3. Cheryl

    Thank you Marlys! Once again a wonderful writing and journey! It took me back and I could visualize most of the drive due to my childhood travels.
    I grew up in Brookings and I remember the night of the tsunami. My folks were hosting a dinner party at our house. Our house was on a cliff not far from the ocean and the ocean roar was sooo loud! It was frightening for a 9 year old.
    My dad was an insurance agent and we drove to see the damage in Crescent City the next day. I think one of my first times realizing how much is out of our control.
    Thank you again for prompting my stroll down memory lane💖

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