The 10 Commandments of Road Trips

Posted on
Nov 6, 2012

From our eventful and nail-biting last road trip, in Ireland.


Rand and I are currently in Boston; in a few days, we’ll be driving up to New Hampshire for a conference; a few of his colleagues will be making journey with us.

That’s right: we’re going on a road trip. WITH PEOPLE WE LIKE AND CONSIDER FRIENDS.

Oh, dear.

Forget all those trust-building exercises where you have to assemble a puzzle together, or fall into one another’s arms with your eyes closed, or break into an paramilitary complex, undetected, in order to erase any evidence of your existence (that last one is a thing, right? I’ve been unemployed for a long time). I cannot imagine a more rigorous test of any professional or personal relationship than being stuck in a car together, with only the fickle bastard that is Google Maps to guide you.

Think of how much you learn about one another as you struggle to …

  • navigate roads that should have been decommisioned in the 70s!
  • choose a snack at the gas station that isn’t produced by a company primarily specializing in petroleum products.
  • find a radio station that doesn’t describe itself as “playing the hits of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” (Parenthetically, when did those weird moan-yodel noises that all the pop stars make become substitutions for actual singing? Also, music is too loud, my hip hurts, and the kids need to get OFF MY DAMN LAWN. #oldpersonrant)

It is not a situation to be taken lightly.

Now go fetch me some Halvoline cupcakes. Like mom used to not make.


And so, to ensure that Rand and I do not traumatize his colleagues, and due to the “success” of my 10 Commandments of Air Travel (hate mail counts as success, right?), I’ve decided to issue another ten commandments – this time about riding in cars.

These aren’t rules for driving, per se (because there are a a hell of a lot more than ten of those), but guidelines for when you decide to pile into a vehicle alongside people with whom you’d like to remain on speaking terms long after you reach your destination.

  1. Thou canst not call “shotgun” unless thou can actually see the vehicle. Also, no calling shotgun for future trips, because that sort of shit is bound to get people really angry (and rightfully so, because thou is being a dick).
  2. Regardless of whether or not thou hast called shotgun, thou shalt let the tallest/largest passenger ride in the front seat when thy vehicle is full. The tallest/largest passenger should initially decline this offer, but thou shalt continue pressing the issue until they take the damn front seat.

    (If thou is not the tallest occupant of the vehicle, thou may still request to sit in the front seat on grounds of motion sickness. However, thou hast better have some serious evidence to back that claim up. Either that, or thou should just take thine own car.)
  3. When thou is a passenger, thou shalt pitch in gas money for all trips over 15 miles, unless thou is doing someone a favor by going to the destination with them (then thine friend should probably offer you lunch or something). This situation does not hold true for professional trips, when the most senior individual should be responsible for covering the bill and enduring the dreaded expense report that ensueth.
  4. With regards to flatulence, thou shalt “hold it in” for as long as possible (for though physical discomfort may fall upon thee, no real harm to thy person should occur) and wait for the opportunity to unleash thy foulness outside of the vehicle.

    If such an opportunity does not present itself, thou shalt roll down the windows ahead of time before passing gas inside thy vehicle. Thou is not exempt from this rule, even if it is thine own car.

  5. Thou shalt defer to the driver’s choice of music. If the driver’s taste is really terrible, thou must suck it up, except for trips lasting longer than 20 minutes, at which point thou and thine driver may take turns controlling the stereo.

    The content of mixed CDs shall not be considered grounds for ridicule, because we all went through the stage where we thought that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” song was catchy. (Don’t lie. Thou didst, too.)
  6. Unless it interferes with thou’s legroom, thou shalt not critique the cleanliness of thy friend’s car. Nor shouldst thou mention that weird smell.
  7. When the car is full, that person bearing the shortest legs shouldst offer to sit in the accursed middle back seat. After they have done so voluntarily, their position must then be referred to as “sitting awesome” instead of “sitting bitch.”
  8. Thou shalt take any opportunity to use the restroom, even if thou doesn’t really have to go, in order to reduce the chances of needing to stop in the future.

    If thou feels thine bladder or bowels reaching fullness, thou should make it clear that a bathroom will be needed soon, so that thine driver has time to find a convenient place to stop.

    Otherwise you might be forced to pee out the window. While zooming across a bridge.

  9. If thou is deemed navigator, thou shalt give directions in a clear and timely manner, providing the driver with more than 15 seconds to move three lanes to thine right. Those who point vaguely while repeating, in escalating urgency, “Go there … There! No, THERE.” willst be flogged.

    The phone CANNOT teach you how to drive.

  10. If thou ist driving, thou shalt defer to the opinions of those forsaken souls in the backseat when determining vehicle climate controls. Those who are doomed to spend an eternity (or, you know, 20 minutes, but it feels like forever) burning in the hell of the backseat should be allowed full control over the A/C.

And, and one last thing you should take into account before venturing out on a long trip. It’s less of a commandment, and more just good, common sense (Rand, you listening?):

Thou should never, under any circumstances, think that watching YouTube videos are enough to teach thou how to drive stick-shift. Especially not in Ireland.

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