When I am feeling hemmed in, the desire to get in the car and head out on a road trip is never far from my mind. Travel by plane, train or bus is fine, but there is something about an automobile that lends an extra air of freedom.
The Urge to Get Going
During this long pandemic, I was missing my sister. A road trip to visit came to mind. During a telephone conversation a few months back, I suggested I could safely drive through four states to visit her. I would add a pop-up tent with a ladder to climb up and make it my makeshift hotel room.
She reminded me we would not be able to do more than wave to each other from a distance so why bother. Such were the crazy schemes that go through a woman’s mind during times like these.
It was for that reason that I laughed aloud while reading a New York Times article about a grandmother, Su Min, who was fed up with staying home. “Life was just too upsetting,” she said and headed out on a road trip with no particular destination. And where does she spend her nights? Well, of course in a rooftop tent above her car.
I’m thinking this desire for women to get away on a road trip must be a worldwide phenomenon. Although her reasons to head out on a solo road trip were different than mine, Su Min’s need to get away was strong. So strong, in fact, for this grandmother from Central China that she didn’t just daydream about it, she took action.
Apparently, after living the dutiful life of a wife, mother and grandmother, Su Min decided it was time to exit the life of expectations. Now, although she is traveling alone, there are more than a million social media followers on the journey. She has been on the road for six months with no end in sight.
She posts videos on the Chinese version of Tik-Tok. In her posts, she speaks of a lonely and sometimes violent marriage.
What Hides Behind This Urge?
This was not a sudden whim on the part of Su Min. She gathered information from many sources and looked for equipment that would best suit her – like a pop-tent that would fit atop her vehicle. Add a portable refrigerator and a rice cooker to the tent and she was on her way.
Su Min’s road trip has her meeting people at every stop, solves problems along the way, and helps her makes friends with other women, young and old, as they share experiences online.
I ponder whether the reason for women who feel this need to hit the road is a general discontent with life. I know women who are in solid relationships without major family problems who, nevertheless, sometimes feel the need to make a solo exit and get away by themselves.
This may be a type of life passage for women who have reached a certain age or time in their life. Su Min is retired, in her 50s and until recently took care of her twin grandchildren. She had done her homework, and this was her window in time.
That Window in Time Is Important
How often does an opening in the calendar come when your grown children and spouse or significant other don’t depend on you, emotionally or physically, to support them in their lives. How many women retire only to find that responsibilities of aging parents come before that grasp for freedom on the road?
Su Min knows she will return to her family at some point but is nowhere ready to do so. She plans to visit most of China and expects it will take two years. Now, that’s a road trip!
Have you, or do you know anyone, who determined to take a solo road trip to escape a situation or to get to know themselves better? Do you think this could be a passage many women feel but most don’t act on?