How to Survive a Road Trip
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you pack-up the car and depart on a summer road trip. Unfortunately, it is also the time of year when relationships are tested. As we all know, road trips always begin on a high note, but by the end even Mother Teresa would be willing to shove her grandmother out of the car. So, how do you not end-up single or friendless at the end of a road trip? Here are a few tips:
1.) Do maintenance on your car before you leave. Get your oil changed, fluids topped off, and tires inflated. Half way through the road trip is not the time to remember that you need an oil change or to realize that you have no windshield wiper fluid to clean the bug guts off the windshield.
2.) Do not be radio nazi. I can guarantee you that not everybody in the car shares your love of polka music. Decide ahead of time who will control the radio. Will the driver have control of the radio? Will you split radio time 50/50?
3.) Negotiate pit stops. If you decide ahead of time that unplanned pit stops are authorized, remember that your stop at the “World’s Largest Prairie Dog” might mean your carmate gets equal time at the “World’s Largest Golf Ball”.
4.) Discuss driving time. Some people are content to drive the entire trip. Other people can only drive for a few hours at a time. Decide ahead of time if and when you will change drivers. Keep in mind whose car you are driving and each person’s level of comfort regarding different driving conditions. If you are hesitant about your carmate driving you car, then you should expect to do most of the driving. Likewise, if your carmate hates driving at night, then you should expect to do most of the driving if you are traveling after dark.
5.) Splurge on a GPS. No matter how great you think your navigation skills are, there is nothing that can bring a road trip to a screeching halt quicker than being lost. Even worse, the biggest arguments during a road trip tend to relate to directions and someone’s inability to read a map. Splurge on the GPS and you will not have to worry about being lost. If for some odd reason the GPS gets you lost, you and your carmate can bond while mutually hating the GPS – instead of each other.
6.) Add an extra 20-30% to your budget. Nobody ever stays on budget during a road trip. Fluctuating gas prices, last minute side trips, and outrageously priced t-shirts to commemorate your journey always put you over budget. Emergencies can also put you further beyond your initial budget.
7.) Don’t plan on eating fast-food the entire time. First, it is nice to get out of that 4’ x 4’ box every now and then. Second, just because you are on vacation does not mean that the basic rules of metabolism and caloric intake do not apply. You cannot eat 4,000 calories per day and not gain weight. Well, unless you have the metabolism of a teenage boy…
8.) Do not have overly high expectations. If you have been planning a trip to the Great Salt Lake for the past year, you might be crushed to realize that it is well below its normal water level, it smells like dead fish, and it is infested with red gnat-like creatures that love to swarm you. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, the higher your expectations the more likely you are to be disappointed.
9.) Remember, road trips never go as planned. Do not be idealistic while planning your road trip. There will be traffic, road work, and unplanned pit stops. Your hotel reservations might be canceled, and Yosemite might be closed. There might even be a flat tire or two. Stay flexible and your road trip will be a much better experience.
Finally, remember that everyone will be irritable after a few days in a 4’ x 4’ box on wheels. But yelling will not get you there any sooner or get you “un-lost”. Also, do not say whatever comes to mind in the heat of the moment. Your carmate’s plan might be the “stupidest idea” you’ve ever heard, but don’t say it in the heat of the moment. If you must say it, say it later. At the end of the trip. Over drinks.