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Do you remember the last time you went on a road trip with a group of friends? You probably encountered a few problems along the way: maybe you ran out of gas, lost each other, slept in tents or in the car or lived off gas station food. However, you all made it through the road trip, and hopefully you probably are still close friends.

It seems that there is more to a road trip than just the fun, the travelling and the memories: going on a road trip with a group of people can forge powerful relationships. The logic explanation behind this is that being on a road trip allow people to have longer, deeper conversations that might lead to meaningful friendships. Moreover, being on a trip means having the participants interact with each other and work toward a common goal and having this shared experience can become the foundation on which a strong relationship can be built.

A Forbes article explains why having deeper conversations can help strengthen friendships. This is also strengthened by research proving that well-being is related to having less small talk and more substantive conversations. So if insightful conversations are making us happier, shouldn't we all just do that instead of just babbling around about insignificat stuff? Well, it's not that simple. Apparently, small talk has its perks: "small talk is far from being a vice. It is a vital life skill, without which our mental health and relationships with others are likely to be impoverished." Moreover, not all conversations can be deep and profound. We need the small talk in order to survive and to climb our way to the insightful dialogues, as well.

Furthermore, the conversations we usually experience are interrupted by distractions, meaning that no topic can be explored deeply, thus leading to small talk. This is also known as “manger’s schedule” in Paul Graham’s theory called ”Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s schedule”. He says that “There are two types of schedule, which I'll call the manager's schedule and the maker's schedule. The manager's schedule is embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one-hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you're doing every hour”. So even if you try to have a deep talk, chances are you will get intrerrupted by a colleague, the bartender, a phone notification, etc.

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However, being on a road trip with a few people provides the perfect medium to explore in-depth topics, because you have hours of driving ahead and less distractions on your way. This is the other way around, the “maker’s schedule”, which allows for insightful conversations: “But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.”

Working together for a common goal also has a big impact as people who come together and cooperate toward a shared goal set aside their differences and contribute to the common good. It is also reported that working together reduces prejudice and help the people get to know each other, which can help bring them closer. While speaking of getting to know one another, previous research reports that “self-disclosure is when we reveal personal information about ourselves to another person” and it is proven that “we like people who disclose information about themselves and we like other people more when we disclose to them.” Disclosing personal details about ourselves also involves the topic of deep conversation, proving these concepts are related to each other.

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While you’re on your adventure, you are actively creating memories that you can later share with the other people involved. Just by going through an experience with someone can bring you closer to them. Research proves that having a shared experience with another person intensifies the experience itself. In the study, a group of participants were asked to taste chocolate and report how much they liked it. People seemed to enjoy the chocolate more when they were tasting it at the same time as another participant compared to when they tasted it alone, even though the chocolate was the same.

It is also reported that we tend to like more the people who are similar to us. Even though it is a saying about the fact that opposites attract, we stay connected to those who share our opinions. The great thing is that the longer you talk, the quicker you will find shared interests with your companion.

I approached the subject of travelling a while ago, in Preferences for Journey Destinations. From the research we conducted we found out that road trips are the favorites among our respondents as travelling by car was the most popular means of transport back then, with over half of the respondents (54.4% out of 700 respondents) preferring to use the car for trips. Also, what’s interesting is that most of them (51.1%) travel the most with their family while 36.5% with their spouse/partner and only 8.8% preferred to travel with their friends. Furhtermore, none of the respondents preferred to travel with their colleagues or co-workers.

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Research results from the ”Preferences for Journey Destinations” study

We've all found out through our experiences that there is inevitably going to be a problem on the road, so being in a position of showing your problem-solving skills will prove useful both for the issue and for the bonding, as well, while also bringing some spontaneity to the friendship. To conclude, being on a road trip help people understand each other on a deeper level as driving inspires deep conversations about life and we’ve learned that insightful conversations make us happier and can become the foundation on which to build a connection, a friendship. While talking is great, there are also moments of silence and a road trip can teach us how to embrace these moments. But one of the best outcomes of going on a road trip, besides all those mentioned above, is that you have an enjoyable time and you drive away with inside jokes and lasting memories.

One question that can be asked is whether trips by other means of transport (plane trips, train trips) can also help support a friendship? Is it just the experience of a road trip that counts or simply the idea of spending a long time with someone that helps the bonding?

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