Everyone loves a good road trip, right? I mean what’s better than singing with your best friends in the car, with the top down, hair in the wind, driving down the highway watching waves crash up against the coastline as the sun melts into a purple orange explosion in the sky?
Scrrrrrrrp. Then you get pulled over by a cop. And then your tire pops. Then one of your friends said since she was asleep in the backseat, she’s not going to help you pay for any of this. And then your boyfriend farts next to you with the windows rolled up.
The following tips are how to avoid the above scenario.
- The first and foremost thing that needs to be thought about and talked about before a road trip is LIABILITY. It is the most un-fun subject but arguably the most important. When there are multiple people involved in a road trip and some shit goes down and it’s not talked about, that’s how friendships end. In order to avoid that, first you need to decide whose car you’re going to take. Whoever uses their car never has to pay for gas because they’re trading wear and tear on their vehicle for gas money. HOWEVER, if you decide to lend your car as the Good Samaritan Road Trip Fairy, you need to understand that you are taking full responsibility. So if you let one of your friends drive and he/she wrecks your car, it is ALL ON YOU, unfortunately. I don’t recommend being this person.
As a passenger, make sure the person whose car you are using has passenger insurance as well as car insurance, just in case something horrible happens. In addition, if you are going to be driving someone else’s car, make sure YOU have driver’s insurance. Otherwise all this shit is on YOU.
So how can we avoid this awkwardness…
- Rent a car and get the insurance. In my experience, no matter what, spending the extra money to rent a car AND paying extra to purchase the insurance has worked out in my favor e v e r y t i m e. This gives ALL of the passengers liability for any damage made to the vehicle and also covers them as well. You can hit a deer, car, curb, or wall, and walk away from any damage that may incur. In addition you’ll have roadside assistance should your tire go flat or you need your battery charged.
I know, I know, you’re about to tell me that your personal insurance already covers rental cars. Guess what, whoever wrecks the car, is the ONLY person who has to go through the headache of recounting over and over again over the phone what happened, drop off your car for repairs, and hope and pray that the insurance company will cover your losses, and then spend another six months waiting for that check to arrive. Meanwhile, you’re car-less until you get that shit fixed.
Yea, sure. Go with your personal insurance if you’re basic. The rental car insurance is a guarantee. (Read the fine print and make sure they do cover all of this. Enterprise and Budget definitely do…from experience. RIP to that deer I killed on the way to Marfa. But I walked away from that bumper-less blood splattered car THAT DAY for only paying $75 extra.)
- Now let’s talk about snacks. There has to be a designated snack person. One person reserves the car, the other person buys the snacks. And they better be good snacks, too, WITH variety. I’m talking donuts, beef jerky, gummy worms, goldfish AND chocolate. And maybe some apples to pretend that you’re healthy. If you have a special need, like if you’re gluten free or vegan, you’re on your own. Bring your own snacks.
- With snacks come trash. Snack-person, make sure you bring an extra bag with you to put in all the trash. You also will need to be peeling back wrappers and shit to feed to the driver because he/she can’t do that while driving. Be helpful. Then clean up and scavenge all the wrappers to throw away. Every time there’s a bathroom stop, make sure you empty it out, don’t let it build up over time because that shit becomes messy really quickly.
- Now, snack-person, you may also have to be direction-person should GPS not be available in the country that you’re driving in and you need to use an old-school map. If GPS is available, then driver, you’re on your own. Figure that shit out. If you need help while driving, ask snack-person to figure out where you are. Even if they are asleep, wake them up. Which leads me to my next point…
- Driver, it is your responsibility to wake the car up during a massively scenic moment. Say you’re driving and see a field of baby lambs, or poppies, or you see something cool on the side of the road. WAKE UP THE WHOLE FUCKING CAR. WAKE THEM HOES UP! If you don’t, you’re an asshole.
Once I was on a road trip through the Grand Canyon and my friend, who is really into dinosaurs (don’t ask) was asleep in the back seat. I saw this little bitty sign that said “Dinosaur Tracks This Way.” I turned off the road, and stumbled upon an Indian tribe sitting on thousands of dinosaur tracks spread throughout the area. We learned so much about dinosaurs, the K-T boundary, stumbled upon petroglyphs, and hung out with these Indians and were introduced to their way of life. Three years later, my friend is still thanking me for doing that and actually got a job working in a lab identifying and cataloging dinosaur fossils immediately after that trip. She is now enrolled at university to get a degree in geology. What if I had never woken her up?
Another time, I was driving through Croatia and it was pitch black. As the sun started to come up, these massive islands started popping up out of the ocean. They were these other worldly red land-masses springing up from the still glass water with fog rising from the ocean. I decided not to wake up my brother since he had taken a wrong turn when it was his turn to drive, DESPITE my directions. We ended up driving through Bosnia making our 9 hour trip into a 17 hour trip. So instead, I stopped the car, took pictures with my friend, watched the sunrise as he peacefully stayed asleep, and then kept going. When he woke up, we showed him the pictures. He is still pissed to this day about me not waking him up. Whoops.
- Speaking of brothers, let’s talk about farts. It happens, especially on long drives. But can you just roll down your window? DO NOT have us hot-boxing in your rancid stench.
- Speeding tickets. Those also happen. Before getting into the car, everyone needs to agree to split the cost of a speeding ticket evenly. Why? Because not all roads were created equal. For example, sometimes your driving shift may be during the day when you can see all the po-po in broad daylight and can slow down if necessary. Another person may have their shift during the night when police visibility is at an all time low. It’s not fair for the night driver to have to take on the disadvantages of driving at night. Also, it sucks to have to be out of $200-300 on a road trip. It’s so much less painful to pay $60.
If you’re in a country where police are corrupt and need to offer bribe money, the car splits the bribe money evenly. But remember that bribes are negotiable. (I’ve done this in three different countries, it is definitely a thing.)
The only exception to this is if you’ve repeatedly asked someone to slow down or to stop doing illegal shit. In one case, my friend was going 90MPH on a 60MPH limit and I kept saying, “hey, slow down.” When the police stopped her, she didn’t make me pay half of her ticket and I’m glad that she was cool enough to recognize that I tried to prevent this from happening. Also, if you make the decision to drink while driving (which NO ONE should) you take on that responsibility as completely your own. No one is going to split the DWI cost with you.
- Night Driving. Some road trips don’t require driving at night, but I find it to be the most productive time to cover some ground. A night shift shouldn’t last more than 3-4 hours before a switch in drivers needs to occur. Eyes get tired, people get sleepy, drives get boring. However, whatever you do, no matter how tired you are, dear driver, DO NOT be basic and turn on the radio. It’s disrespectful af to the other passengers who are trying to sleep and who will have to drive after you and need to be well rested. Use your headphones to listen to your jams and podcasts during your shift.
If at any moment you feel yourself nodding off, WAKE SOMEONE UP. DO NOT continue driving.
- Which finally brings us to the make or break moment of a road trip: THE PLAYLIST. Whoever’s responsibility it is to make the road trip playlist, do not include any of that eclectic shit that you listen to on your own time. You need to include songs that everyone knows and can sing along to. Remember that it is your job to set the tone of the trip. And make sure that shit lasts a few hours so you’re not listening to the same 4 songs every hour. Ultimately, think of the playlist as the soundtrack to your life in this moment. Every time you hear those songs, you’ll think of these memories.
Road trips are the best way to travel a country. They give you the freedom to stop and go as you please and they allow you to see things along the way that normally you never would have. It also gives major time for talking, singing, sleeping, farting, and all around bonding with the people you love. Just make sure, you’re not basic while doing so.
This article was written by How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch.