The current Vocal Point line-up have their Arizona tour this week, and that makes us feel all sorts of nostalgic. See, we’ve done every type of road trip imaginable – from cars and mini-vans to those glorious fifteen-passenger hoopties to charter buses. From camp trips to work trips, we’ve done it all.
So, we’d like to share our rules of the road for when you’re forced to share a tiny, tiny space with other people for an extended amount of time. You know, so you don’t end up feeling like Tyler here:
Oh dude, we’ve so been there. Some of these tips come from the pre-iPod era, when road tripping was more of a communal activity. Some of them are inspired by much more recent adventures. All of them are given in wisdom and love. Without further ado, we present Troi and Crusher’s Road Trip Survival Guide.
- Taco Bell is never an option for meal breaks. There just aren’t enough windows to properly ventilate a vehicle after a group of guys have eaten Taco Bell. Even if you’re in a magical convertible van.
Still not enough ventilation.
- All seating arrangements are up for negotiation throughout the journey – no one gets to call dibs on a favorite spot for the duration. Especially if that spot has the clearest path to the air vents.
- No matter how funny it seems, it is never a good idea to put a “HELP” sign in the back window.
Or spell it out in the snow.
- When you’ve been on the road long enough, your friend’s shoulder can seem like the best pillow ever.
- If you drop something on the floor, you may have just lost it forever. Unless you want to risk bending down to pick it up. In which case your friends may decide that you need to spend the next leg of the trip on the floor of the van as well. One huge exception: chocolate. The floors of 15 passengers get hot, and chocolate melts, and that’s a mess no one wants to deal with.
Especially the next person who gets stuck riding on the floor for a while.
- Wear layers. Sometimes it will be hot and stuffy, and sometimes it will be Arctic tundra. Bring a blanket, even. No promises one of your buddies won’t swipe it from you, though.
- Bored? Here’s a new one we saw just last year: start a book club. Seriously, Crusher watched four men in their twenties and thirties read to each other and discuss the novel over a series of road trips.
Yes, it was just as adorable as Bert and Ernie.
- Get serious if the weather gets bad. Let your driver focus on the road.
- The promise of ice cream can pacify even the crankiest travelers.
But please note: no uneaten ice cream should ever enter the vehicle.
- Don’t spend the whole time zoned out in your own world. Van time = quality bonding time.
- Any dispute can be solved with Twizzlers. Commit a small wrong against someone? Give them a Twizzler as you apologize. All-out war developing? Twizzler fight! Those suckers can leave welts if you do it right.
- Pre-iPod or when everyone’s batteries have run out: old school music is most likely to please the majority of road trippers. Or, you can generally get everyone on board with music that the driver finds annoying. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the driver won’t then actively seek out every. single. pothole.
- Don’t be the jerk who eats all of the M&Ms out of the bag of trail mix.
Or maybe just make sure you’re the first jerk with the idea, and leave just enough that someone else is the one who finishes them off.
- No one actually wants to listen to talk radio.
- Aside from the regrettable name, Chinese Fire Drills are a terrible, terrible idea in a van.
- Always do a head count before leaving a rest stop.
- Changing the speaking voice on the GPS can be a funny joke, as long as the navigator knows how to change it back and you don’t get stuck listening to Beavis and his friend say, “Turn right, heh heh, heh” for miles on end.
- If you are traveling in two vehicles, there is little else in life as much fun as communicating on the open road with walkie talkies. Bonus points if you find someone who is not part of your group on the frequency to talk to. Triple bonus points if it’s firefighter Dennis Quaid from the 1960s.
Hey! That movie was named after McButters’ boyband!
- If everyone is sweaty and gross, it’s all good. If the person next to you is the only stinky one, you are well within your rights to Febreze them.
- Buy something silly at a rest stop. Play-doh is fun. Souvenir t-shirts are better. When in doubt, start a bouncy ball collection.
- There is a line at the back of the driver’s seat beyond which no projectiles should fly (especially your new bouncy ball collection). You don’t want anything rolling under the pedals or hitting the driver in the head. Beyond that line, it’s all fair game as a war zone, baby.
- If you have more than one person who claims that they get carsick and thus deserve shotgun, stick them all in the back seat and the first one to vomit actually gets to ride in the front.
- Beef jerky is not a road trip food. No matter the flavor.
- Even if it starts out in innocence and fun, playing punch buggy will almost always end in bruises, tears, and the silent treatment.
- No matter how old you are, it’s always funny to try to get semi-drivers to blare their horn.
- If you stop over at someone’s house, always be gracious to your host, even if you end up on a fold-out couch that feels like sleeping on a grill (50 points to the reader who can identify which Jim Gaffigan special that reference comes from).
- Try to make the time to stop and enjoy local oddities and tourist traps. Never pass up the opportunity to go white water rafting or stop in at a place called the “Cheese Castle.”
- If you stop over at a hotel, please know that king size beds are not wrestling rings. And you do have to pay for repairs if such ill-advised wrestling breaks the bed frame. And neck damage caused during said wrestling can last beyond the scope of the trip.
- Keep a box of snacks in the back of the van – not only can the occasional sugar rush raise morale, the hilarity of watching the back seaters try to reach the box behind them can provide fantastic entertainment.
- Even if you think you’re good, try to go at every decent-looking rest stop – there’s no guarantee that the next gas station will be the kind of place you want any part of.
- Never pull over to get fruit at a produce stand. You may find yourself staring down the barrels of thirty armed guards outside the home of a third world country’s president. If you end up in that situation, make sure you put your prettiest faces in the windows.
Well, those are some of the things we’ve learned from our years in the road tripping trenches. Let us know if we’ve missed one of your own personal favorite tips.
-Troi and Crusher