Most quotes are fake. It is like playing the childhood game telephone where someone whispers a sentence into the ear of the first person in a long line, and twenty whispers later a mangled sentence, barely recognizable from the original, is produced. Despite the common knowledge that most quotes are fake, or at the very least modified, people share them across social media and lists on websites.
I was one of those people. Eager to produce a list of the best road trip quotes, I scoured the internet and culled my notes for anything to add to the growing list. I proudly published a list of 100 road trip quotes.
Then one day, I realized one of the quotes was misattributed. So, I started digging into the history of the quote. I realized that the quote was not only misattributed but also mangled like the result of the telephone game.
I decided I needed to muster journalistic integrity and verify my writing. But the deeper I dug into the origins of the quotes, the more questions arose.
Who was Sir Tom Stoppard and Alain de Botton?
When precisely did Tony Robbins utter that quote?
Who wrote the screenplay for Dumb and Dumber?
As I scoured the web for answers, I created some criteria for the road trip quotes I chose to list:
- The author must be verified
- The origin of the quote must be identified
- The topic must be directly related to road trips
- No corny one-liners
With a set of rules written on an index card and a fresh coffee kept warm by the warming plate – my favorite desktop accessory – I dived head-first into the world wide web, hoping to verify quotes, find missing authors, and learn the story behind the profound words.
And because we live in the age of social media, I also included downloadable images for desktop and mobile. Maybe when you plaster it on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, you’ll give me credit for the image?
“We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” – John Steinbeck
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” Like many quotes, this one by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is paraphrased from another quote. In 1960, Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley: In Search of America. One passage in the book reads:
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
Quotes are often shortened for brevity because a one-liner is more likely to be read than a one-paragrapher. But this time, I felt the actual quote was quite nice. Although it may not be the quote Steinbeck is often attributed to making, I will share this one.
“If you don’t care where you want to get to, then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” – Lewis Carroll
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” This is another misquote often attributed to Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. However, this quote never appears in the book or anything Carroll wrote.
The quote is a paraphrase of an exchange between Alice and the Cat. Here is the section from the book:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
Someone read this passage and paraphrased a memorable one-liner at some point in history because those make the best quotes. Then, as the quote’s popularity grew, the origin was left behind.
I also paraphrased the passage in the quote above. But it’s a more accurate quote, and I attributed it to something Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland.
“Look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.” – Sir Tom Stoppard
Almost every one grows up reading Shakespeare at least once. But few ever hear of Sir Tom Stoppard, a British playwright and screenwriter. At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966, Stoppard debuted one of his most acclaimed works: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
The play is about the lives of two minor characters waiting “in the wings” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a self-aware, comical take on what minor characters do in-universe while not on stage.
One passage from the play features Stoppard’s popular quote above:
PLAYER: We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out. We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else. (Act I)
The Player, one of the primary characters of Stoppard’s play, explains that when they leave the main stage of Hamlet, they go backstage and continue to live their lives. Exiting Shakespeare’s play is simply an entrance into Stoppard’s.
But somewhere in time, someone thought “look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else” was a great soundbite when taken out of context. Now, the quote takes on a new meaning with existential ramifications.
And I like it.
“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” – Tony Robbins
Even if you don’t know who Tony Robbins is, you know about Tony Robbins. Anthony J. Mahavoric began his career as a motivational speaker when he was just 17 years old, working to promote fellow speaker Jim Rohn. Since then, Robbins has gained worldwide acclaim for his self-help books, seminars, and catchy one-liners.
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“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” This is just one of Robbins’ popular quotes. But he was not referring to journey in the sense of travel, but instead about one’s journey through life.
But it works well as a travel quote, too.
“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – Izaak Walton
This quote is often attributed to Izaak Walton, although I cannot verify if he ever said or wrote it. Walton was a 17th-century English writer and author of The Compleat Angler, a popular book about the art and spirit of fishing published in 1653.
After a career as a linen draper, Walton retired to a small farm he purchased north of his hometown. He spent the next forty years traveling the country and fishing with prominent political and religious leaders.
Interestingly, Walton secretly harbored one of the Crown Jewels. After Oliver Cromwell defeated King Charles II at the Battle of Worchester, Charles was sent into exile for nine years. Walton hid the Crown Jewel on his farm until he could smuggle it to Charles in Europe.
2023 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers
Find the best gifts for travelers, road trippers, coffee lovers, and stocking stuffers with the annual guide – including my top gift recommendations.
“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” – Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton is a British philosopher and author of several books. Essays in Love, published in 1993, is one of his most successful books. In 2002, he published The Art of Travel. Botton takes a different approach to writing about travel – instead of exploring things to do in a destination, he dives into why people should travel in the first place.
The quote above is one of the best from the book but far from the only notable snippet. His writing style is wordier than many of the other quote authors. It just makes you think more about the meaning.
And it’s one of the few road trip quotes that has been shared accurately and attributed to the correct author.
“The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.” – Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 1978. But working in professional kitchens was not the only course he’d plotted for his life. In 1999, Bourdain submitted an unsolicited essay to The New Yorker, where it was later published. “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” launched his career as a celebrity chef, author, and world-traveling documentarian.
In 2002, Bourdain published A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines. The book is a chronicle of his globetrotting adventures, searching for the ultimate meal. It was one of his earliest published books that demonstrated his ability to write lyrically about travel and food, leading to much of his success later in his career.
In 2005, riding high from his New York Times best-selling book, Bourdain began hosting Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. His introduction to a worldwide audience propelled him into celebrity chef status.
“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.” – George Carlin
George Carlin was a comedian known for his counterculture routines and rough language. Taking the stage in jeans and t-shirts from Hollywood to New York City, Carlin entertained millions throughout his career.
In 1998, Carlin published his first book – Brain Droppings. The 272-page book is filled with quotes, musings, and jokes. The above quote was buried deep inside the book.
The quote was typical of Carlin’s brand of comedy, using plays on words and twisting logic to achieve a humorous outcome. And it’s the perfect kind of road trip quote to keep in the car’s instrument panel.
“According to the map, we’ve only gone four inches.” – Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, and Bennet Yelling
Paper maps are vintage now. Although Rand McNally publishes an updated spiral-bound map book every year, I never see any leave the bookshelves. So, it may be difficult for the modern generation to understand the humor in this quote.
In 1994, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, and Bennet Yelling co-wrote Dumb and Dumber, launching their careers as comedy movie writers. It was the first commercially successful venture of the Farrelly brothers, who would go on to direct classic comedies like There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal, and Dumber and Dumber To.
Jeff Daniels had already been acting for over a decade when he starred as Harry in Dumb and Dumber. It was his first successful starring role in a popular film and kickstarted a career of comedy and drama roles.
Jim Carrey’s break-out role came just a few months earlier with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, followed by The Mask. He starred in Dumb and Dumber as Floyd, a dimwitted man on a mission. After Mary, played by Lauren Holly, left a briefcase at the airport, limousine driver Floyd took it upon himself to embark on a cross-country road trip to Aspen.
Shortly after leaving Rhode Island with his roommate and best friend, Harry comments, “According to the map, we’ve only gone four inches.” It’s something to which modern-day travelers with smartphone navigation apps and car GPS devices can’t relate.
And it makes the joke even funnier today for those who get it.
“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” – Dave Barry
Dave Barry knows a thing or two about comedy. In fact, in 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.”
Barry was a columnist for the Miami Herald from 1988 to 2005, where he wrote a nationally syndicated column. He had a talent for using humor to discuss serious situations and engaging an audience that otherwise would have kept turning the page.
So, it should be no surprise that he would tackle the topic of terrible drivers. In a column for the Baltimore Sun, Barry admitted he was more than likely an under-average driver. But then he claims 93% of American drivers are also under-average, although they deny it.
I love this as a road trip quote because any road trip will ultimately involve crazy driving – either by someone else or you.
A lifetime ago, I lived in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. It was just as charming as the name implies. A small barrier island connected to the mainland with a two-lane bridge arching high over the Intracoastal Waterway. It was a town with more short-term rental houses than permanent homes and a population that would swell to tens of thousands during the summer.
And there were a lot of bad drivers.
I used to joke that it seemed like tourists would leave their brains in storage on the other side of the bridge because they suddenly forgot how to drive as soon as they crossed it. A red traffic light means going faster, white lines marking parking spaces are only suggestions, and turn signals are off-limits.
“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me.” –Walt Whitman
Did you know that famed poet Walt Whitman published a poem about taking a road trip in 1856? Leaves of Grass was a poetry collection initially published in 1855. But Whitman was unsatisfied with the final product, so he published between six and nine editions of the collection over the next fifty years.
The second edition debuted the poem Song of the Open Road. Under the idea of Manifest Destiny – the belief that God had blessed the United States with a mission to expand across the entire North American continent – thousands of settlers trekked toward the Pacific Coast.
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Whitman’s poem symbolized the movement. The “open road” represented the freedom of Americans and the endless opportunity the burgeoning young country offered. The quote above, “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me,” represented the hopes of the 400,000 settlers who trekked across the country by 1870.
Symbolism aside, it’s an excellent quote for road trips today. All we need is health and freedom, luxuries we often take for granted, to enjoy the open road. How often are you reminded of those luxuries while on a road trip?
“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.” – Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac was one of the most popular writers of his generation despite having never completed college. While writing his first novel, The Town and the City, Kerouac road-tripped across the country with Dean Moriarty, a close friend. He kept small notebooks filled with thoughts, feelings, and impressions – everything a travel writer notes today.
In 1951, Kerouac typed the first draft of On the Road on a 120-foot-long scroll of paper – the manuscript was single-spaced and devoid of paragraph breaks. Viking Press published the book in 1957. The fictional novel based on the road trip features Sal Paradise, based on Kerouac, and Neal Cassady, based on Moriarty, experiencing America through music, drugs, and adventures during a road trip.
“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road,” is one of countless popular quotes from the book. Every passage in On the Road expresses a casual approach to life, epitomizing a carefree attitude. It’s more than just the best novel published during the Counterculture period – it’s one of the best road trip travelogues ever written.
“You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.” – William Hazlitt
William Hazlitt is an uncelebrated British journalist and essayist of the early 1800s. Hazlitt dabbled in philosophy, poetry, and painting in his early life. Then, he discovered a passion as a journalist working for several newspapers as a parliamentary reporter.
Although Hazlitt was lauded for brilliant prose at the time, political rivals ultimately branded him a quack. He died penniless in 1830, and his works were never printed again. A small movement began in 2003 to revive his reputation, but little of his work is still available to study.
This quote is likely from one of his essays written during his post-journalism career. Hazlitt wrote essays about politics, religion, and criticisms of artwork like Shakespeare’s plays. I love this quote because it essentially means you don’t know what you’re talking about if you haven’t tried it.
The Hazlitt’s Hotel is named after the ill-begotten author. The boutique hotel is in Soho, London, in the same building where Hazlitt last lived.
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller
Helen Keller lost sight and hearing after an illness when she was 19 months old. After several years of communicating with homemade hand signals, her parents hired Anne Sullivan. The lifelong companion taught Keller American Sign Language, how to read braille, and how to write. Keller became the first deaf and blind person in the United States to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
Keller became an activist for people with disabilities, women’s suffrage, and labor rights. She published 12 books and dozens of articles during her lifetime. Working with organizations like the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Civil Liberties Union, Keller traveled around the world giving speeches.
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” One of Keller’s many notable quotes is about optimism. Never give up, she championed.
But it’s also a great road trip quote. On the surface, you could take this as a suggestion to drive safely. But dig a little deeper, and the meaning as a road trip quote is apparent: the road trip only ends when you don’t turn onto the next road.
“The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.” –Aaron Lauritsen
Little is known of the self-published author Aaron Lauritsen aside from the details of his lone novel, 100 Days Drive. He’s a “former professional soldier and small business owner turned wanderer.”
After a painful divorce in 2013, Lauritsen followed a growing trend of selling all his possessions, picking up stakes, and hitting the road. After a 30,000-mile road trip through 38 states and 7 Canadian provinces, he published a book about discovering himself on the open road.
“The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.” This quote from his memoir was probably more of a reflection on his life at the moment than a suggestion to others. But it works great as a suggestion, as well.
“When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” – Charles de Lint
Unlike many quotes that sprang into existence from public speeches or interviews, this quote by Canadian writer Charles de Lint comes from the pages of his urban fantasy novel, Greenmantle. Urban fantasy is a subgenre that places fantastical elements in the modern world, like Stephen King’s Carrie and the 1960s television show Bewitched. Inspired by these successes, de Lint authored several urban fantasy novels beginning in the 1980s.
Published in 1988, Greenmantle is one of de Lint’s earliest novels. It’s an acquired taste, though, and one I have never been fond of trying.
The quote from the book is memorable and appropriate for describing how it’s the journey, not the destination, that should mean the most during a road trip. I like this quote for its symbolic meaning, although I’m certain de Lint was not thinking about a road trip when he wrote it.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost
Born in San Francisco, Robert Frost was just twenty years old when he published his first poem. By his death over six decades later, he’d won four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry and etched his name into history as one of America’s greatest poets.
The Road Not Taken is one of his most frequently quoted poems. But it’s also one of his most misunderstood. It was the first poem in Frost’s debut collection, Mountain Interval, published in 1916.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by.
People have always interpreted the poem as symbolic of standing at a crossroads and choosing the course of your life. By picking the road less traveled, you charted your own course instead of simply going with the flow.
Except that’s not at all what Frost intended.
A later line in the poem notes the roads had been worn about the same. The poem wasn’t about which road you chose but which you didn’t.
And that’s why this is a great road trip quote. It doesn’t matter which road you drive. One way or another, you’ll eventually get to your destination. And whichever road you choose, you’ll miss something on the other road. Either way, just enjoy the drive!
“Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld was in his early twenties before becoming interested in stand-up comedy. He began auditioning at open mic nights and, in 1981, appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, catapulting his career.
From 1989-1998, he starred in the NBC television show Seinfeld, playing a fictionalized version of himself. Often described as a “show about nothing,” the characters brought a comedic view to everyday life in New York’s Upper West Side.
In the second season episode, The Baby Shower, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) hosts a baby shower for her friend at Seinfeld’s apartment while he travels to Buffalo to perform a comedy show. But when a blizzard causes the show to be canceled, Seinfeld returns home in the middle of the shower.
Just as he arrives home, Leslie – the soon-to-be-mother honored with the shower – comments about Seinfeld’s sudden return. He replied, “Well, Leslie, sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” It’s a subtle self-deprecating joke about how the life of a stand-up comedian – the road less traveled – is less traveled because it’s difficult to get a good gig.
But it’s also a good road trip quote if taken literally – and with a grain of salt. Sometimes, the road less traveled could feature a hidden feature or majestic vista. But sometimes, it’s less traveled because it’s an awful road that will damage your undercarriage and leave everyone nauseous.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” – George Harrison
George Harrison was an English musician and lead guitarist for The Beatles. By the time the world-famous band shockingly broke up in 1970, Harrison had already transitioned to a solo career as a songwriter and singer.
In 2001, Harrison died from lung cancer. The following year, his son Dhani was instrumental in posthumously releasing Harrison’s final album, Brainwashed. The opening track was titled Open Road, an homage to life on the road as a traveling artist.
“And if you don’t know where you’re going / Any road will take you there.” The last two lines of the chorus were Harrison lamenting that his tour schedule often meant he didn’t know where he was going next because he wasn’t the one driving the bus!
But if you are doing the driving, it’s a great road trip quote. I think it makes a great motto for a spontaneous road trip with no particular destination.
“Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone and following one after the other like a flock of sheep. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before.” – Alexander Graham Bell
In 1914, Alexander Graham Bell – the notable telephone inventor – gave a graduation address in Washington, D.C. The National Geographic Magazine published his address the following month.
In the address, Bell shared an experience about walking through Nova Scotia one day and leaving the path behind to hike into the woods, and at the bottom of a gully just fifty feet away, he found a gorgeous stream he’d never seen before.
Later in his address, Bell used the above quote as a metaphor for life. As an inventor, Bell frequently left the “public road” to do something different. The result was the first telephone that eventually led to the smartphone you are probably using to read this.
“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like many popular quotes, a version of this one is often incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, the famous poet never wrote anything remotely resembling this quote.
“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.” This line appeared in “Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers” by Muriel Strode and was first published in 1903. The metaphorical poem was about keeping an open mind and accepting the world around you.
Literally, the line is often lamented by park managers across the country. “Stay on the trail” signs are frequently posted along state and national park hiking trails. Sometimes, these signs warn that wandering off the trail can be dangerous, but more often, it’s just courteous so as not to destroy fragile vegetation.
But metaphorically, as a road trip quote, it’s like other quotes about taking the road less traveled. Unless you’re blazing a trail with an oxen-drawn wagon across the Rockies, you’re not leaving a trail behind where you drive. However, you could take a route not suggested by Google Maps, make your own adventure, and leave a new trail for others to follow.
“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra
The funny thing about this quote from legendary baseball player and manager Yogi Berra is that he did say it – but not in the way most people think he said it.
Yogi Berra played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the New York Yankees – but his final season was with their crosstown rival New York Mets. After retiring from playing, Berra coached for the Yankees, Mets, and Houston Astros. Finally, Berra retired in 1989.
In 1998, Berra published The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said. In the book, Berra explains the story behind one of his most famous quotes. He gave directions to his house to Joe Garagiola, a close friend and fellow baseball player. When he said, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it,” it was because either direction he went would eventually lead to Berra’s house.
I think that’s why this is such a great road trip quote, but you must understand the story behind it. The quote simply means you’ll eventually get there whichever way you go.
“Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.” – Emma Chase
Emma Chase is a New York Times bestselling author of steamy romance novels. Her debut novel, Tangled, published in 2014, is centered around Drew Evens, a playboy businessman in New York City. The book was the first in a four-part series that included Twisted, Tamed, and Tied.
In Tamed, the focus shifts to Drew’s best friend, Matthew Fisher, as he navigates the course of love in the Big Apple. One of the lines of dialogue in the book is this quote, “Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.”
It’s very similar to “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. But with a modern twist on the familiar words. And it’s an excellent road trip quote.
“If you’re on a road trip, you need driving music.” – Edgar Wright
British-born Edgar Wright began his illustrious filmmaking career with comedy series and movies. After the critical success of Spaced, a sitcom featuring two Londoners who move in with each other after meeting only once, launched his career. He followed up with critical hits Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
In 2017, Wright made a dramatic shift with the action-thriller Baby Driver. Starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, and Jon Hamm, the movie is about Baby (Ansel Elgort), a slick getaway driver for bank robbers.
But the interesting twist on the movie – and motive behind this quote – was explained by Kevin Spacey’s character, Doc, “He had an accident when he was a kid. Still has a hum in the drum. Plays music to drown it out.”
Baby (Elgort) plays music on his iPod through wired earbuds throughout the movie. Wright used this as an opportunity to craft a unique soundtrack for the film featuring classic hits from The Beach Boys, The Commodores, and John Spencer Blues Explosion. The music was so important to the film that Wright secured the licensing rights to every song before filming started.
During the onslaught of interviews following the smashing hit, Wright talked about his solo road trip across the United States ten years before making the movie. He told Newsweek it was “one of the best things I’ve ever done, my kind of Jack Kerouac moment.”
And during the interview, he uttered one of my favorite road trip quotes, “If you’re on a road trip, you need driving music.” Just as Wright has a playlist for road trips, I have a playlist of hit songs perfect for the open road.
“It’s a road trip! It’s about adventure! It’s not like we have somewhere to go.” – John Green
Indian-born and Florida-raised John Green graduated from college with a double major in English and religious studies. In 2005, he published his first book, Looking for Alaska, a moderately successful young adult novel that launched his writing career.
He followed up with several other novels over the next few years until 2012, when he published The Fault in Our Stars. The story centers on 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, a girl with thyroid cancer. During a support group meeting, she meets and ultimately falls in love with Augustus Waters, the survivor of osteosarcoma. The Fault in Our Stars was adapted into a major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
But the quote above comes from Green’s second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, published in 2006. The book is about Colin Singleton, a young man obsessed with dating girls named Katherine. After getting dumped by the nineteenth Katherine, Colin and his best friend Hassan embark on a cross-country road trip, making it as far as Gutshot, Tennessee. After spending the summer in the small rural town, Colin falls in love with a local girl – named Lindsey – and the trio leaves the town on another road trip.
“It’s a road trip! It’s about adventure! It’s not like we have somewhere to go.” The novel’s plot revolves around two road trips – the first when Colin and Hassan leave Chicago and the second when Colin, Hassan, and Lindsey leave Gutshot.
This is a great road trip quote because it draws attention to the greatest asset of a road trip – untethered adventure. If the road trip is more about the journey than the destination, then it’s not like you have somewhere to go.
“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.” – William Least Heat-Moon
In 1978, 38-year-old William Least Heat-Moon separated from his wife and lost his job as a teacher. Staring at an early mid-life crisis, Heat-Moon converted his personal vehicle into a camper van and embarked on a three-month road trip around the United States.
Heat-Moon was inspired by the “blue highways,” the color Rand McNally chose for two-lane rural roads. After completing his 13,000-mile journey, he published a book named Blue Highways. The travelogue chronicles his self-reflecting adventure, the interesting characters he met along the way, and the history of the small towns he visited.
“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.” This quote from the book is typical of his writing style – plain prose but with deep meanings. It’s a great road trip quote because it sums up the belief that the road trip is about the journey, not the destination.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts beneath one’s feet.” – Laozi
This is certainly the oldest quote appearing on this list. Sometime in the late 4th century BC, Laozi wrote the Tao De Ching, an ancient Chinese text on Taoist philosophy and religion. The Tao De Ching is divided into 81 short chapters and contains only 5,000 Chinese characters.
Chapter 64 of the text includes the quote above, although in a slightly different version, “A journey of a thousand Chinese miles starts beneath one’s feet.”
The common translation, although erroneous by any translating method, reads like this, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Either way, the philosophical meaning of the quote is apparent. A long journey starts at the beginning, with you consciously deciding to take it. Although more commonly applied to life-changing decisions, I think this also makes a great road trip quote.
Before the road trip can begin, you have to choose to take a road trip. Put all your worries aside, and just enjoy the ride.