Road trips, I believe, have temperamental magic powers. You think it’s just gonna be a journey with your mates or loved ones, or maybe even a motley crew of assorted travellers you met the night before.
But those journeys can either be a conduit for love and friendship, or rain-soaked despair when someone somehow winds up locking everyone out of the car on the side of the road.
So it’s all the more important that you prepare appropriately before heading off into the horizon, the wind flowing through your presumably long hair. Here are four unwritten rules that will help you avoid calamity next time you’re setting off, so you can steer your next road trip in the right direction.
1. Don’t go with someone you’re gonna argue with
Family road trips aside, you get a reasonable amount of choice as to whose butts get parked in the remaining four seats in your car. It’s YOUR CAR. You have that power. You’re the one holding all the cards, or, keys. So choose wisely.
If you’re going on a long-haul trip, maybe that one mate on their L plates isn’t the best driving partner. If you’re driving a teeny little Smart Car and four of your colossal basketball mates suggest a ten-hour trip to their next match, maybe it’s not the wisest move to shove ’em all in like sardines.
But even if you’ll all fit in the car, bear in mind that these are folks you’re going to be stuck with for a reaaaally long time. You’re going to want to be able to get along well with them, but you also might need to be able to deal with disputes when they arise. It’s the test of a good relationship — and you need to agree on the tunes.
2. Remember to download a bunch of podcasts/music before losing reception
There’s an ongoing debate over who gets to control the audio on a road trip — is it whoever sits in the front passenger seat, or should the driver be in charge of the tunes? This is a question that has caused great uproar in my family, has incited an office-wide discussion, and is the true reason why we never talk to cousin Jeff anymore. Sorry Jeff.
Regardless of who’s in charge though, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about music or podcast choice if you’re driving through a stretch of poor reception and have forgotten to actually download any of your faves beforehand. You fools, not everywhere has sweet, sweet connectivity!
If you’ve mapped out your route properly, you’ll know where and when you’re going to be stuck in the reception-free wilderness, so make sure you’ve downloaded enough music, podcasts or audiobooks to tide you over. Unless you want to actually, you know, talk to each other.
3. Be prepared for the worst
I warned you, road trips can teeter on the edge of brilliance and madness. There’s definitely the potential for things to go awry — perhaps your tyre will bust halfway down a looong stretch, or you’ll somehow end up heading 60 kilometres in the opposite direction.
So you need to be prepared for anything. Before you set off, check your oil and water levels to make sure your car is ready for the journey. Plan your fuel stops in advance. If you’re anything like me, force a loved one to do a sweep of your entire car to make sure there aren’t any spiders hiding behind your mirrors.
And if you’re from South Australia, consider signing up for RAA Road Service. They’ll be there to keep you moving if all hell breaks loose and you wind up chillin’ on the side of the road.
4. Make good snack choices
Now, this one is important. Not only do you need to ensure you’ve got bulk snackies to keep you occupied, but you also need to make sure you’re not also sculling coffee and energy drinks before a long stretch of no dunnies. Plan out your loo breaks in accordance with your snack intake.
If you’re going on a long-haul trip, pop into the supermarket so you can make your own lunch instead of scoffing down countless sausage rolls from stray servos. There’s no amount of tomato sauce in the world that can replace a good handmade sandwich, and I stand by that claim.
But you don’t have to go too healthy — chippies, lollies, biscuits and popcorn are all viable and necessary road trip foods. Stock up, and don’t race through them all at once. This isn’t the cinema, where you down all your goodies before the lights start dimming — this is the real world.
And look, there’s no reason you can’t have the time of your life chugging along with your mates in the car. You can holler the wrong lyrics to your favourite songs at the top of your lungs with no judgement (unless your windows are down when you pull up to the lights), you can get real deep and meaningful as the sun sets in the distance.
Road trips can be life-changing — you just want it to be the right kind of life-changing.Image: Crossroads