Road Trip Rules and Etiquette
I’ve covered 20,000 miles crossing the country in various directions, and I’m about to tack on another 2,000 miles this weekend. Its time I laid down some rules and guidelines for drivers and passengers.
1) Know the mechanical condition of your car! There’s no excuse for a breakdown. In case something does go wrong, bring a decent set of tools, a flashlight, a service manual, and water. If you’re mechanically ignorant, have the vehicle inspected before leaving. Bring a full-size spare and leave the doughnut at home, if you can spare the trunk space.
2) Stop at every hole in the wall location advertised on a billboard.
3) During the day, try to eat local food or at regional chains. Save McD’s for late nights when nothing is open… unless you’re traveling on couch change.
4) Always overestimate fuel expenses! Your calculator may give you a cost of $200 at 26mpg. However, when you’re in the middle of Montana doing 120mph, that 26 will quickly drop to 12.
5) You will not arrive as early as you expect to. You just won’t. ‘Budget’ yourself an extra day or two, especially if your road trip is taking you to an event with a specific date.
6) Subscribe to satellite radio.
7) Bring a digital camera. Take pictures of every obscure, stupid thing in sight.
8 ) Stay with friends if possible. Save your money for souvenirs, tourist traps, and retarded little knick knacks.
9) Don’t be afraid of cheap motels. Just because it costs $28 doesn’t mean its any worse than a Howard Johnson (sometimes better) — I stayed at a $120 La Quinta that had pubes in the tub and trash under the bed and sink.
With ANY motel or hotel, no matter how nice, do the following the moment you walk into your room: Pull the sheets off to check for bugs, take a whiff of the air in the room, and make sure the water pressure in the shower is decent.
10) Bring your own shampoo. Motel shampoo sucks, or sometimes it isn’t provided.
11) Bring a WiFi locator tool. I use the PSP.
12) If an exit sign says “Scenic Route” or “Historic”, take it.
13) Be comfortable. The people you see on road trips are people you will never see again, so don’t dress to impress. In the summer, wear some cheap athletic shorts and a big, comfortable t-shirt.
14) Leave your cell phone off. Disconnect yourself from the outside world and use it only for returning voicemails or making outgoing calls (911, 411, hotels, directions, etc).
15) Be friendly to the locals and they’ll be friendly to you. When you’re the outsider in a small town, you aren’t better than anyone, no matter how much you paid for your S-class.
1) You do NOT have ANY right to touch the radio or suggest changes to the music. Bring ear plugs if you hate the way the driver sings.
2) Pee at every stop, even if you don’t think you need to. Do not tell the driver you need to pee at 3AM in the middle of South Dakota in the dead of winter.
3) When sightseeing on foot, the driver is still in charge. Obey the driver or buy a bus ticket.
4) Do NOT critique the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. There will be NO whining about speed.
5) Do not ask the driver to decide who gets the front seat. Figure it out for yourselves.
6) Do not use your cellphone for idle chit chat in the car. The driver would rather listen to music.
7) Do NOT use alone time in the car to divulge your deepest, darkest secrets. In the confines of an automobile, you may start to feel close to the driver and other passengers, but no one needs to hear about how you were molested by your uncle and had ‘experimental’ gay experiences with the local circle jerk club. Once the road trip ends, the closeness will wear off and things will return to normal; everyone will know you’re a damaged, molested weirdo.
Most importantly, explore. Road trips are called adventures for a reason.
Jesda is NICOclub.com’s resident crotchety immigrant, adopter of unwanted American car from the 90’s, and a road trip professional.