There’s a considerable amount of planning that goes into any road trip: the route, where and when you’ll be stopping to stay in hotels, what your budget will be and what you should pack. However, there are some things that won’t be planned. You won’t plan the minor (or major) bumps in the road you’ll come across, the crazy and invaluable memories you’ll make or the people and places you’ll fall in love with along the way.
As you get ready to venture out on the road, and you get ready for both the planned and unplanned, there are some other things you should consider. These things probably don’t have to be said and they definitely don’t need to be discussed, since these are the rules of the road that every passenger in the car should know, accept and understand. Consider these the unwritten rules of the road, but for your road trip’s sake, we’ve written them down.
Here are the top 5 unwritten rules of the road:
Rule #1: Always pitch on gas right away, no IOUs
Like I said, these shouldn’t even have to be discussed. Don’t wait until the trip is over to pitch in on your share of the gas money so you can calculate and ‘pay it back.’ Figure out before your leave how you want to split the money. Maybe you’ll go back and forth between filling up the gas tank or maybe you’ll split the cost each time you fill up, whatever the case may be, figure it out. Nothing is going to add some hostility to the trip like one person covering expenses that should be shared while the other people are ignorant to the costs being covered.
Rule #2: Learn how to navigate and do it well
If you’re sitting shotgun then you are automatically the navigator. Take on this role with pride and do it well. Whether you have an old fashioned map, directions on your iPhone, or you’re following a GPS you should always be aware of where you are. Give your driver directions clearly and timely, you’re not helping anyone if you’re yelling directions as you speed by the turn you were supposed to take. Three strikes and you’re out. By out I mean you’re no longer the navigator because you suck at giving directions.
Rule #3: Use your elementary school sharing skills with the AUX cord
The rule usually goes as follows: whoever is driving gets to choose the music. But this isn’t a 20 minute drive to the mall, this is hours on the road, day after day. So the rule changes for a road trip. Everyone gets their turn with the AUX cord; others can’t continually change the song if they hate their companions’ music choice. Hopefully you and your friends have a similar taste in music so this rule definitely goes unsaid.
Rule #4: Always stop to see cool stuff, especially national monuments or historic scenery
What’s a road trip without breathtaking scenery? Maybe you have all of your pitstops planned out, but along the way you’ll see scenery and places you haven’t planned for. Make sure to stop. Even if Debbie Downer in the back doesn’t want to stop, still stop. Whether it’s a national park, historic scenery or just something cool that you want to take a closer look at, stop. Everyone else will have their time when they want to stop, so suck it up and enjoy the moment.
Rule #5: Don’t treat the car like your personal trash bin
Don’t be a slob. There will probably be many times you’ll be eating on the road, but don’t take that as an opportunity to throw wrappers or cups on the ground or in the backseat. Hopefully you’ve come prepared and you’ve packed a garbage bag in the car; if not, keep all the trash together until the next stop. This also includes trash out the window. Don’t do it. The earth is already hurting enough from your road trip, don’t add insult to injury.