Monday, December 12, 2016

Rules of the Road Trip

You are doing it wrong.

Rules and regulations are everywhere. Some people may think that, as a society, we are over-regulated. However, there are reasons for rules. The road trip is no exception. Oh, sure, it seems harmless enough. There's the family outing to another state, you have your couple jaunting up the coast for a couple days, and the classic four friends gassing up for an epic journey across country. To the uninitiated, these are simple excursions in a vehicle to travel to a destination. To the serious road tripper, these are highly planned and completely immersive experiences. They require military level logistics and detailed organization.

As we look forward to some potential road trips over the winter holidays, here are some helpful tips to make sure you enjoy your road trip in the manner it was intended.
A. Dress Code
    1. Jeans and shorts only. No khakis. Please. Don't make me explain. Also, this is the ONLY time in your entire life you are EVER permitted to wear cargo shorts.
    2. No swimsuits or bikinis. A seat belt on bare skin can leave a mark. Plus it gets kinda sweaty. Also, when you get out of the car the back of your legs are red and have the imprint of your seats on them. 
    3. Wear shoes. Do not drive barefoot. What if you have to dash into a gas station bathroom? Gross. Do not wear flip flops (or thongs and some people call them) either. You are on a road trip in a car. Take the driving part seriously.
    4. Wear a hat. For men, a ball cap, flat cap, beanie or stocking cap, trilby, pork pie -- all acceptable road trip wear. No berets, cowboy hats, boaters, derbys, or bucket hats. You are on vacation not auditioning for a TV period drama or cop show. For women, anything you look cute in. Face it, girls are cute in hats. Maybe try a scarf. Go ahead and rock your inner Audrey Hepburn. 
B. Music.
    1. Generally, the best road trip music is from the 70s and 80s. You may not know this, but road trips are social activities -- you and everyone else on the road are communing. If you are a millennial, older road trippers will think you are way cooler than you are.
    2. Real road trippers customize their music for the trip.This is where you can sneak in some more contemporary tunes.
    3. No one listens to country music on a road trip. NO, they don't. Only professional truck drivers. This is a road trip not a job. If you really WANT to listen to country music (which I do not recommend) pull over and go into a bar or country diner. Order some chicken-fried-steak and mashed potatoes, get your fix, then get back on the road. Now, don't panic. Lynyrd Skynyrd is not considered country. If you need a quick primer on the difference between country music and southern rock, please DM me immediately. You obviously have some learnin' to do.
C. Food
    1. Plain potato chips and regular tortilla chips are for picnics NOT road trips. The exceptions are for things that are spicy and hot flavors. Stock up on Cheetos (any flavor), Chex Mix (any but the new chocolate flavored sweet ones - WTF, General Mills!), popcorn, and anything else that crumbles easily and gets all over the place. Barcel and Tom's are the best brands for road trips. Convenience stores and gas stations carry them.
    2. NO DIP. This is not a cocktail party - it's a freaking road trip. Don't get fancy, get serious.
    3. No chocolate bars. Only candy like Red Vines, Gummy Bears, Circus Peanuts, etc. If you really have to have chocolate M&Ms are fine. 
    4. No napkins. (See exception D.1. below)
    5. Ignore serving sizes. I know I didn't really have to mention this, but, there you go.
    6. Only get snacks with wide-mouth bags. (Basically, just buy a big regular bag.) No small or snack-size bags as they are unsafe for the driver. Oh sure, everyone in the car can manage the stupid teeny ones you put in your kid's lunch box, but you are a grown-ass adult and need to get a handful in one smooth motion. Here's how it should flow: 1) Hands at ten and two on the wheel, 2) Release at two, 3) grab, 4) shovel, 5) wipe on pant leg, 6) back to two. (If this is your first road trip, practice this a few times before you actually pull out of your driveway for the trip.)
    7. Don't bother bringing fruit. Too much trash. Bananas and apples have the skin,  apples have the core, grapes have the twiggy little whatever they are. Bag it. They are a hassle. Just wait until you stop somewhere for dinner and order a salad or a side of fruit. You'll live.
D. Misc
    1. Don't even think about packing Kleenex. If you need to blow your nose use a napkin. Even the little travel size are terrible. Leave those in you suitcase when you go on the airplane. Grab a bunch of napkins from a fast food restaurant or steal a handful from Starbucks. Do not use these for wiping your hands. (See C.4. above) These are official road trip snot rags. (Yes, that's the real name). 
    2. Road side rest areas are there for a purpose. Use them often. You need to get out and stretch your legs. Even if you are only driving for a couple hours, stop at a rest area. Chat to the couple from Wisconsin. That's their RV parked over by the pet poop area. Make small talk with the tattooed girl from Albuquerque and her skinny boyfriend in the sagging jeans. They are very nice people. You should probably stay away from the the really mean looking guy with the Chihuahua. He's probably on parole and not use to people yet. The Chihuahua might be his therapy dog.  Use caution in the bathrooms. The floors are gross and slippery and there will never be anything to dry your hands are. Use the napkins from D.1. when you get back to the car. Don't get grossed out, but you WILL have to flush the toilet prior to using it. Just do it. It's part of the fun.
    3. When filling up at the gas station, always wash your windshield. It's tradition and should not be ignored. 
    4. Over pack. That's right, I said it. You are in your car. Pack some extra of everything just in case you need it. Take twice as much underwear and socks, a couple extra pair of shoes, some dress pants, a nice shirt or blouse, a swim suit. You know -- extra stuff. Even though you are on a road trip, you don't lose your humanity. Be ready for a spur of the moment adventure.
This is far from a complete list. You are welcome to customize it a little (the food part, certainly has some wiggle room) so long as you don't stray from the main tenets.

Have fun! Don't drink and drive. NO TEXTING. Enjoy the trip, ya'll.*

*Road trips are the ONLY time you are allowed to say "ya'll" if you are not from the South. This will be D.4. on the revised edition.

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