As we creep ever closer to a blooming springtime, plans are being drafted, reworked, and finalized for the ultimate road trip. Sundresses are being unhung from their closets and packed neatly away in canvas weekenders, sunglasses are getting their first serious use since the last barbecue of the pre-winter season, and banger playlists are being carefully crafted in anticipation for the momentous occasion. After all, you’ve been planning this for the last few months, and you're looking forward to the opportunity to pack your things, load up the wagon, and hit the trail toward a destination that’s anywhere but the room you haven’t left since before the cool weather hit.
You’ll have a fair amount of pre-departure planning to pin down before you’re ready to load up the car. We’ve got you covered elsewhere for help packing, travel hacks, affordable locales, and tips for staying safe while traveling. But now it's time to prepare for the intermediate period between the time you depart and the moment you arrive at your destination. Consider this a manual for maintaining the peace in that sardine box of grown adults, regardless of whether your car trip is two hours long or eight. Because let’s face it, traveling can be stressful. We’re here to help you make the process a little more streamlined.
When you're going on a road trip with other people, there are a couple of things to remember: your responsibilities will depend on your exact location in the vehicle. For example, to avoid backseat driving (and a subsequent squabble between riders), elect a designated navigator to map the course of your journey. Drivers don’t need to be moderating the goings on of the rear of the vehicle, and passengers need to respect safety and personal space. Basically, it all comes down to one simple rule: Don’t be a jerk. Here are 13 tips from veteran road trippers to help make sure this road trip goes as smoothly as possible.
ARE YOU A PASSENGER?
1. No trash out the window
Littering is cool circa never, and our highways already have enough to worry about.
2. No trash on the floor
Don’t be a jerk by dirtying the floor of a friend’s vehicle. Throw your trash in a plastic bag that everyone can consolidate, and dispose of it at the next rest stop. Your chauffeur will cherish you for this (and perhaps allot you more time as designated disc jockey).
3. Check before rolling down the window
Need some air? Simply ask. Anyone who’s ever been behind the wheel on a freeway is aware of how distracting it is when someone decides he needs to do the hand-out-the-window thing, and the whole car suddenly becomes a wind tunnel. That’s safe for precisely no one. If you crack the windows evenly, everyone can ride happily while you vent the car of McDonald’s.
4. Hold off on the partying
If you’re fooling around in the back seat and get pulled over with an open container or illegal substances, you know who takes the biggest hit? Your driver. Wait until you’re out of the car. It may sound like a cool idea to be chugging rum and cokes to your favorite jams, but you don’t want to be the asshole who ruins the fun for everyone when you all get carted off to the station while the arresting officer deliberates your futures.
5. No consuming beverages and then requesting pit stops
Sure, an extra large iced coffee with an added double shot may have seemed like the boost you needed for the long road ahead, but if this comes at the cost of frequent potty breaks, no bueno. (Pro tip: Espresso does the job with a quarter of the liquid.)
6. Pitch in for gas money
Don’t wait until after the trip to “pay it back.” Budget for things like gas money, and remember that someone else is actively involved with carting you to your destination. Pitch in where possible, and make your driver’s day.
7. No changing a song if it’s someone else’s turn to be DJ
Don't be a hater, either.
8. That said, no hogging the AUX cord
Puff, puff, pass it on.
9. Pack snacks
You know those Snickers ads about grown adults who turn into cranky divas when they’re hungry? I have witnessed, with my own two eyes, hunger ravage a car full of people with no food and a strict timeline to adhere to. Don’t let it happen to you, reader. Bring some eats.
ARE YOU THE DESIGNATED NAVIGATOR?
10. Pay attention to your responsibilities
Don’t be a jerk and forget your one job while you’re checking Facebook and sucking up your data plan. Copilot is a privilege, not a right.
(Aforementioned rules still apply.)
ARE YOU THE DRIVER?
11. Drive responsibly
Be mindful of not only yourself and your crew, but the other cars out there on the open road. Don’t drive if you’re drowsy, and no partaking in festivities (besides shamefully bellowing [Alanis] lyrics, of course) until you’ve safely reached your destination.
12. No DJing while driving
You have a copilot for this. Utilize this rare opportunity to reign over your car kingdom.
13. Remember that it’s not a race
Are you stuck in a line of cars headed in the exact same direction? Don’t risk the lives of your friends and strangers by trying to be the hero that saved, at most, 45 minutes of driving by passing every car en route to your destination. Nobody likes a lead foot, Dale Earnhardt.
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