Summer Road Trips Are Here & These 4 Charts Perfectly Encapsulate The Experience

Summertime has arrived, along with a whole set of seasonal fun! This includes barbecues, sunbathing, and hitting the open highway for any and all summer road trips. But whether you’re traveling near or far, with family or friends, there are a few constants we all understand when it comes to the American road trip experience.

From the symbiotic relationships of who sits where in the car, to the sense of freedom you can only find in the middle of nowhere, the Netflix original film Fundamentals of Caring covers the whole gamut of road trip feels. This dark comedy follows Ben (Paul Rudd), who, seeking renewed meaning in his life, becomes the caregiver to Trevor (Craig Roberts), a young man with muscular dystrophy. Ben and Trevor embark on a cross-country tour of kitschy roadside Americana, picking up a young hitchhiking tumbleweed named Dot (Selena Gomez) along the way. Just like you do on the road, this motley crew finds adventure, addictive road snacks, great tunes, and — of course — themselves on their journey.

To get you excited for your own car ride this summer, we've taken the liberty of composing the following charts that sum up the perennial road trip experience. Make sure to watch Fundamentals of Caring, Now Streaming on Netflix.

A Taxonomy Of On-The-Road Sustenance

Any respectable road diet is determined by two variables: sheer tastiness and convenience. This puts fast food drive-thru windows and gas station convenience marts are the top of the list. After all, nothing hits the spot on the road like a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a bag of BBQ chips that you barely had to get out of the car for.

Breakfast food is the epitome of comfort and you are powerless to resist its bacon-scented aura, so you'll inevitably pull over for any pancake house that comes into your path. Bringing up the rear are cute little diners ‘cause some actually still exist. You might have one salad on the road in an attempt to make yourself feel momentarily healthy. But like the arms of an old lover, you'll always return to the burgers.

The Longer Your Ride, The More Emotionally Comfortable You Become

Anyone who’s ever been on a car ride longer than an hour is aware of the following truth: the more time you spend on a road trip, the more you overshare. After all, you can only spend so much time in a car with someone before you become your truest self. And sure… For the first couple hours, you'll be able to keep your sharing at a socially acceptable level (i.e. snacks and radio privileges). But somewhere past the three hour mark, you’ll stop being polite, and start getting real.

The Equitable Division Of Road Trip Labor

The ecosystem of the car is a delicate balance, with each seat-occupant fulfilling their own unique duties. If the driver is the ship’s captain who is charged with the most responsibility and control, the shotgun passenger is the car's moral and literal compass, not to mention, the purveyor of food for the driver.

The wild-card backseat rider supplies the entertainment, alerting the gang to any beautiful or bizarre roadside sights (pretty landscapes, funny billboards). And, as the road trip honor code dictates, every member agrees to hold it for as long as nature will allow. It's just polite.

What You Expect From Your Road Trip Vs. What Will Actually Happen

A trans-American road trip conjures up some great expectations, but in reality, "amber waves of grain" is just a fancy name for "fields that go on forever, and the "world's largest ball of twine," is probably only about 12 feet tall. And sure, your road trip may not end up as glamorous as you originally imagined. But like Ben, Trevor, and Dot, you'll still find fun, friendship, and perspective on the road.

This post was sponsored by Fundamentals of Caring, Now Streaming on Netflix .

Images: Dawn Foster/ Bustle (4)