The rattle of the car with its overfull backseat is white noise for the slowly approaching sleep of the passenger. The drowsy daydream of the outside hurtling by, so quickly and yet so slowly. Places pass in a blur, only pausing for the ‘slow down’ signs and winding country roads; dirt tracks shuttle stones up into the metalwork, the clattering the only sound between the fields. No glamour to be found in the road trip, only service stations and rest stops. The sigh of grasses in the distance and the rush of far off traffic. Damp dewy mornings and late sunsets fading out against the streetlamp glow.
When we talk about travel, we often talk about the kind of travel that we can control. Especially those of us who are more inclined towards solo travel and minimal adventure. Though we hate to admit it, we’re often the neurotic sort- trying to have our plans in order and be on our own schedule. What happens when we become passengers?
Travelling with others is vastly different from travelling alone. Schedules become shared, bathroom breaks are doubled, food choices become compromises. Those of us who like our space alone are all at once experiencing communal living, often in the cramped space of a car, shared room, or shared camp. Decisions must now be made with all people in mind, communication has to be effective. All these factors can make it seem like work, instead of freedom.
But travel, by its nature, is freeing. When we surrender to the inescapable spontaneity which shared travel causes, we can start to settle into that freedom. The work is halved, when we are a passenger. We see unexpected sights and visit the kinds of places we might have never put into our itineraries. Most importantly of all, our experience of these places will forever be written on by those we travel with- their presence always there whenever we next visit.
Being a passenger when travelling can mean meeting new people, and seeing new things. But we must allow ourselves to melt into that passenger seat and give ourselves up to the journey above all else. Forget the bickering over the ‘right route’ and the frustrations after long, hot days. Try to work only towards those moments of beauty found somewhere just before sunset, where you not only learn about the place you’ve come to, but about the people you’ve come here with.
What have you learned from being a passenger while travelling?
Featured image: Cristofer Jeschke via Unsplash.