Road Trip Rules…

So, I missed this week’s YA Highway road trip, sadly. I enjoyed catching up on the posts from everyone else regarding this question:

“This Week’s Topic is: In celebration of the release of Kristin Halbrook’s NOBODY BUT US (hooray!!) we’re asking: Zoe and Will set off on the road to seek a better life and encounter loads of drama on the way. What’s the most dramatic road trip you’ve ever been on?”

My first thought: the most dramatic? Like, life-and-death, flee-your-past, escape-your-deranged-ex sort of road trip? In that case, I don’t have an answer. I’ve never had the time, the money, the vehicle, or the drama to throw my life in the back seat of the car and drive off into the sunset. Growing up, our family vacations consisted of driving six hours to the nearest relatives and spending a weekend with them. Hardly the stuff of legend.

Even now, I travel frequently, making the six-hour drive back to my hometown fairly often…but that drive has become comfortably monochromatic, capable of being tossed onto the end of an 8 hour workday with little trouble. But, musing on this topic reminded me that surviving a few family trips and managing to mangle a few thousand miles into a weekend at one point led me to compile a few survival techniques for managing even the most dramatic of road trips (Totally untested theory, but it sounds good). So, for your amusement benefit:

ROAD TRIP RULES

1. Food. Always take food. And more food. If it means dumping the extra passenger in order to fit a cooler in, do it. Unless they volunteer to hold it on their lap.

2. The more the merrier. You can argue this with me all you want, but admit it: Christmas carols sung and shouted to the Great Smoky Mountains in the middle of June…you can try it alone, but cram nine people into a conversion van and then crank the windows down. Nothing can beat that.

3. Hold your breath in the tunnels.*

4. Bring your electronics. Like an ipod. And an ipod charger. And a phone charger. And a GPS. And a power cord. And a three-way outlet to plug it all in. Then make sure to bring a passenger to keep it all straight.

5. Oh, yeah, the GPS. SHE IS THE BEST. Yes, she might try to direct you into a cornfield. But at least you can blame it on an inanimate object rather than your inability to follow directions.

6. Pump & dump. Let’s clear this up right away, folks: when we stop for gas, we also use the restroom. Even if you don’t have to. You aren’t five. You go now, or you hold it until the needle drops.**

7. Find the mechanic in your life and feed him cookies. And then have him check the oil and tire pressure and fluids and all those lovely things that make the difference between enjoying a trip and wondering if you’re going to be walking home.

8. Don’t poo-poo the po-po.

9. Crying while driving is a terrible idea. Trust me. The same goes for other violent outbursts of emotion. You may want to blow off steam, but you can end up blowing a lot more. If your car is the best place for you to unwind, at least try to do it while the parking brake is on.

10. Try not to hype your destination. Our family vacations nearly always consisted of a half-a-day drive to the nearest relatives for the weekend. I was nearly graduated before we had a vehicle that could sustain something longer than a six-hour drive. We never had destinations of Disney World proportions, so we learned to start enjoying a trip from the moment we climbed in the car. Road trips don’t have to play second fiddle to wherever you want to get. The fun doesn’t start when you unpack the suitcase at the other end. It should begin the moment you toss the bags on the roof and hear that sewing-machine-of-an-engine rev its little bulk.

*Or, just find things to make it fun. Like slug-bug (Please claim immunity as the driver). Or counting windmills. Or taking those little scenic-turnout thingys. Honestly, you don’t actually have to hold your breath in tunnels, especially if it’s a long tunnel and you are the driver and you’re too busy staying alive because it’s a FREAKING TUNNEL AND WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEBODY CRASHES AND I’M STILL WEARING MY SUNGLASSES AND THE SIGN TOLD ME NOT TO AND NOW I HAVE TO TAKE THEM OFF BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF I LET GO OF THE WHEEL I’M GONNA DIE…oh, hey, SUNSHINE!!

**I apologize in advance if you own a hybrid. For the record, they make diapers for adults, too.

And no, of course it isn’t going to turn out like you thought it would. Do they ever? You’re going to run out of gas and back up a toilet at a hotel and stop up the rain drips with kleenex and spill ranch dip all over your shorts and hit a deer and get pulled over and lose your a/c and drive in the dark and get flipped off and lose your sunglasses and fry your brakes and hate your passengers and spoil your food and have to relieve yourself under an overpass and wish you’d come alone and wish you weren’t alone. And it will be the most glorious and memorable and I-will-never-do-that-again experience you can have…until the next time. So enjoy it.

What are your survival tips for the road?

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