I spent some time living in San Francisco and would often drive home to Los Angeles. In those days, it was all about the destination, not the journey. So, I'd take the quickest route. Sometimes the quickest is the ugliest, most boring way to go. But it gets the job done. A few years later, I took the long way. It's gorgeous. Absolutely spectacular. Takes about 3 hours longer, so it's not for every time, but it certainly was worth it. There's more than one way to get the same place, after all.
When I close my eyes, and think, "what is a road trip?" I think of the essentials: good snacks, great music, fully charged cell phone (just in case), that "how do people live out here in the middle of nowhere?" thought, and the most important thing of all: my camera. It could be a real camera or just on my iPhone, but that is the absolute don't-leave-home-without-it item.
You never know when the moment and the lighting will be just right. You never know when you'll see something that brings something up for you. You never know if you will ever see these things again, travel these roads again. Sometimes it matters where you're going, but usually it doesn't matter at all.
snapped on my last road trip to Columbus, Ohio
What I never leave behind on a road trip