In my life I have made some short road trips, and some long ass road trips. Over these times I have learned some rather valuable life lessons about myself, my bladder control, and my sanity. Let me bestow some tips, tell some stories, and overall prepare you for that next long haul you make in the car.
First, let’s separate these into three kinds of road trips: Family, friends, and solo.
Family Road Trip
Do you hate your siblings? Then being trapped for an extended amount of time with them in an enclosed space sounds like a party, doesn’t it. Let me be up front and say, that we had a mini van, and three kids, so we put one in the backseat and two in the bucket seats and it kept us just sane enough that we didn’t murder each other. If you are in close proximity, such as a compact car where all three of you are butt-to-butt, I’m sorry, it’s going to suck.
Things You Need:
- Music Player
- Book (Appropriate enough so if they read over your shoulder they won’t read porn)
- The patience of a middle school teacher after winter holidays
Things To Eat:
- Snacks your siblings don’t like
- Snacks that don’t make you fart (or are a laxative in large amounts)
- Snacks that won’t stink up the car
Things NOT To Do:
- Do not engage siblings in conversation
- Do not touch your siblings by mistake or on purpose
- Do not look at your siblings because it will be misconstrued as a “Come at me” look
I have done a 20 hour drive to Florida and a yearly 6-7 hour drive to Northern Wisconsin. When I was younger and without headphones it resulted in a lot of violence and kicking. There are points where conversation and sing-a-longs may in fact occur, but those are during the highs, the lows are filled with irritated scoffs and glares. Just zone out in your own world, keep distracted, and whatever you do, DO NOT eat something that makes you flatulent in the middle of the winter when your family can’t open the windows.
Friend Road Trips
These are easily the best of the road trips you can have. You and your bestie blasting throwback jams and belting out high notes like you’re getting paid for it. I have done shorter trips for this and one very long one, about 14 hours from Baltimore back to Madison. As my lovely friend Natalie informed me, there are stages to friend road trips: Excitement, Annoyance, Exhaustion, and Nonsense.
I will give you tips to survive each moment.
Now this stage is fun, I mean you’re in the car, setting off on your cross country adventure with your best friend, how could you not be stoked! At this point make sure to establish the driving order–how long each person will drive, when you want to stop for bathroom breaks, and when you want to stop for food. This gives a bit of structure to an otherwise chaotic situation. In the very beginning have your GPS set, figure out how long you’re going on the initial Interstate or Highway. This first part tends to be a lot of talking, catching up on life and love. Avoid heated subject matter and just hope this stage lasts for most of the trip.
This is the stage that can fade in and out depending on your partner in driving. If it’s a short trip you may not even reach this stage, and skip over it. This stage involves snippy comments, extended silence, and kind of awkward moments where you want to leave but can’t because you’re trapped in a box of steal barrelling down a road. At this point bask in some silence, I mean you’re relatively far into your trip, it’s okay to be quiet for a bit. I would suggest listening to an audiobook, podcast, or some simple music that isn’t too distracting to allow for competent navigation. Sometimes if this stage feels as if it’s too long, you and your friend might not want to do road trips in the future. It takes a very special pair of people to not murder each other. If it gets too bad, put in some headphones and take a nap to pass the time.
Alright, you can probably guess what I’m going to tell you here. It’s been hours or days and you just want to run a marathon and sit in a place that isn’t this fucking seat. This is a dangerous stage as it can lead to accidents. To avoid this, now is the time to bust out you and your friends favorite albums and songs. Just belt out the lyrics obnoxiously and jam. It will give you energy, and keep you going and talking about memories from that time in your life. At this time it’s not always a bad idea to stop for some coffee and food. It could just be that you’re hangry and need to reenergize to finish this bitch up. This is when you have to get yourself to power through so that you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
You know when you’re super tired and everything becomes funny even though it’s not funny, but at the time it’s the funniest damn moment you’ve ever experienced? Yeah, there’s a whole blob of time, just for that feeling. This is in the last hour or so, when things are becoming more familiar and the signs all point to your destination. Thank the dark lord, you think to yourself, we’re almost there! At this stage just embrace the weirdness, have conversations about nothing and everything, blast the entire soundtrack to Wicked and try to hit all the high notes. Just let it happen.
Solo Road Trip
Whew, I know this is lengthy, but we’re almost there, I promise! Solo road trips are great and awful all at the same time. You have too much time with your thoughts, choice of the music, and the weird desire to drive topless and see if anyone notices. No? Just me? Anywho, driving alone can be dangerous, especially for women, so I have some simple tips to stay safe, and keep sane when driving alone.
What To Do:
- Know your route and have GPS set up before you start driving
- Check in with family or friends to let them know your progress
- Have your phone charger plugged in already so you don’t do it when driving
- Keep your doors locked at all times
- If you feel tired, go to a motel or hotel DO NOT sleep at a rest stop or on the side of the road
- Call 911 if you are being pulled over to verify legitimacy of the cop car
I know these may sound crazy, but just listen to this video and tell me I’m not right. Now you are ready to buckle up and hit the road. Oh, and I almost forgot! Don’t forget to have some great tunes to jam to, regardless of the type of road trip.