I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the art of the road trip.  I’ve spent countless weeks of my youth strapped into the back seat of many a family vacation and I cultivated my craft as I moved into my formative years in high school and beyond.  I’ve traveled with friends, family, and relative strangers in my quests and I like to think I’ve picked up some helpful tips & tricks to make a trip successful.  I’d like to share some of those with you now…

  • As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben famously taught us all, with great power comes great responsibility. There’s a reason the shotgun seat is so cherished in any long car trip.  Sure you get the leg room advantage over the rest of the passengers as well as the better view but the success of the trip really boils down to how you perform.  If you can balance solid musical selections that appeal to your confined audience, remind the driver of the upcoming exits, and perhaps most importantly keep the conversation engaging then you’ve earned your access to an extra cup holder.
  • If the trip is six hours or less, don’t be the one who falls asleep.  Think of your car comrades as a team.  You can’t let your teammates down by not pulling your fair share of the conversation.  While there are scenarios where sleeping is acceptable such as if both passengers in the back seat pass out at the same time or if the trip is long enough that there is a concentrated effort to sleep in shifts.  Carry your weight, pepper in some jokes, and ideally keep your farting to a minimum.
  • A road trip is the only acceptable venue where consuming a bag of Combos is not only acceptable but also encouraged.
  • On the flip side, I’d advise you avoid sunflower seeds.  They’re far too messy a snack to imbibe in such close quarters.  I just think they have the lowest value-to-return basis assuming you are spitting the shells somewhere.
  • Also, do not get duped by the sugar water swillers of our society.  Stick to straight water as your liquid of choice.  There are a lot of reasons that soda is a bad idea for you in general but consuming 18 to 64 ounces of liquid syrup while locked into a seated position for hours on end is basically taking years off of your life.
  • Pay for the first tank of gas.  There is such a thing as karma and it’s a good idea to get out ahead of it.
  • Do not put on headphones and or watch a movie on your iPad.  As noted above it all goes back to alienating your team.  You’re all in the same boat no matter how long your travel.  It’s not just your burden.  Contribute to the collective experience as everyone just doing whatever pleases themselves results in a net loss.
  • Don’t be the person who brings additional baggage into the vehicle with you.  Clutter kills car rides.  Space is king.  Don’t be the reason that anyone is packed in tighter than they need be.
  • The bathroom at your destination is inevitably cleaner at your destination than at whatever roadside stop you chose to grace with your presence.  If you need to sit, wait a bit.
  • I am an advocate of the random gas station purchase to enhance the trip.  These purchases can’t be planned as their value is found in their spontaneity.  The ideal purchase is some degree of fireworks as adding explosives to an environment is never the wrong thing to do.  Unfortunately they’re harder to come by than they should be.  Other favorites have included purchases from the obscure movie bin, dart guns, and knives displayed within a glass case.
  • Always buy a pair of sun glasses at your first gas station for less than $10.  It is through these lenses that you will view the rest of your journey.
  • Go out of your way to eat at restaurants you’ve never heard of.  Chains are lame.
  • If you find yourself playing games that involve license plates or counting cows then you’re doing it right.

Those are my words of advice.  I spent a good chunk of this past weekend in cars (more on that on Friday) and my love of the highway miles was renewed once more.  Use these nuggets in your travels ahead and I promise you more good will come than bad.  Get out.  Travel.  See our country.  It’s what we were put here to do.