The Art of The Road Trip (aka, how to survive five months in a car with your friend)
When we set out on a five-month journey across Canada, we had too many things on our minds to worry about getting along. It’s a good thing too, otherwise we may have dwelled on the fact we’d be spending 150 days together driving a total of 36,767 km. That’s approximately 350 hours in a small metal box on wheels, just the two of us.
Given those numbers, it’s understandable the question we’ve been asked the most is “Did you get along?” Truthfully, it’s an easy question to answer. YES we got along, and very well in fact. That’s not to say we didn’t need breaks from each other, or get annoyed from time to time, but for the most part we were making jokes and having fun. After the trip was over, we went into genuine Dana/Lindsay withdrawal.
So how, exactly, did we attempt to master the art of the road trip? What were our keys to success? We’ve spent some time analyzing that, and have come up with a few reasons why we think it worked. Of course, natural chemistry between friends is a bonus, but there are a few other tricks that can help keep things entertaining.
1. If you see something interesting, STOP.
As we see it, the difference between a road trip and travelling from “Point A to Point B” is the ability to stop and explore. Unless we had to be somewhere soon, we always made a point of pulling over when something interesting caught our eye. After all, when else were we going to get the chance to see the epic Alexandra Falls? Eat roadside bannock? Imitate a giant goose?
Stopping spontaneously will not only allow you to see incredible things, but it also gives you a chance to stretch your legs, take a break from one another, and have something new to talk about. Trust us, you can only play so many rounds of “Would You Rather” before more conversation fuel is needed.
2. Always have snacks on hand.
We’re sure you’re all familiar with the term ‘hangry,’ that horrifying state when someone’s become so hungry they’re angry. It isn’t pretty, and should be avoided at all costs when two people are together for hours on end. If you’re on a short trip, go crazy. Get all the chips, chocolate, and candy you can find. If your trip is five months long, this calorie-cramming technique isn’t necessarily the best one. We always made sure we had trail mix in the glove compartment, apples in the back, and a bag of spinach to get our greens. And if we’re really honest, there was usually a dark chocolate bar somewhere in the car, too. No need to take that element out completely. Of course, as you’re approaching a new city, always assign one person to get on the interwebs and find the best places to eat. Because finding good food is the whole point of a road trip, isn’t it?
3. Blame is Lame
With tens of thousands of kilometres to cover, more than a few things are bound to go wrong. You’re going to get lost (like we did), get your car stuck in the mud (like we did), or lock your keys and cell phones in the car (like we did, 16 hours into an 18 hour day). During those moments, the need to blame is practically instinctive, and if there’s only one other person in the car…….well, you know how that works. The fact is, everyone screws up, and laying blame will do nothing more than create tension and resentment. Since it doesn’t contribute to solving your predicament, it’s best to just take a breath, and acknowledge you’re in a pickle. Then, together you can begin to dig yourselves out of that muddy pit you’re stuck in (whether literal or metaphorical).
4. Find your Power Song.
Sure, call us cheese-balls, but we know that Power Songs are the Prozac of road trips. Hours in the car can make you sad, bored, frustrated, or any number of other unpleasant emotions. At those times, put on your Power Song. They’re remarkably effective at boosting the mood, and bringing the team back together if you’ve drifted a little. Ideally, the song should be one that forces you to sing out loud and upper-body dance to. Our tune of choice was “Dancing on my Own” by Robyn, which we played loud, and often, usually at the end of the day. Beyonce is also an EXCELLENT choice.
5. Set a few, loose rules.
Just a few. They create a sense of routine, and nicely divide up the chores that come with a trip. One rule we set was that whoever was passenger was the one who pumped gas. Such a guideline removed the ‘I did it last time’ arguments, and provided a nice little perk for the driver. After all, they’re always working harder than that lazy, napping passenger next to them…..
So there they are, just a few of the techniques we used to keep things happy over 36,767 km. Not all of them will work for everyone, but they’re a good place to start. And power songs, they really DO work for everyone. Trust us.
After eating their way across the country and spending countless of hours of driving through Canada, Dana and Lindsay know a thing or two about road trips. Feast: An Edible Road Trip continues to share their adventure.