Road Trip Etiquette: 7 Rules

Cramped legs, singing out of tune, suppressed farts, and motion sickness–YES, I’m talking about road trips! Aren’t they so much fun?! I happen to be an expert on the topic.

As a child, my grandmother and great uncle would cram us kids in the back seat of the old Buick, strap us in, and make the nine-hour trek from New York City to Fayetteville, North Carolina each summer. As black people, there were a few unspoken rules about driving ‘Down South’ forever ingrained in the psyche–never go over the speed limit, stop for gas and bathroom breaks sparingly and only at certain ‘approved’ spots (but never at night), and pack all the food we need ahead of time in coolers (again, so we wouldn’t have to stop). These gems were necessary precautions during the Jim Crow era in which my grandparents grew up. One wrong stop, or even if Charlie pulled you over, could leave you hangin’… Needless to say, I perfected the art of holding my bladder.

Since then I’ve developed some unspoken rules of my own (which apply only to adult road trips). Today I will descend from my pedestal, where I often pontificate about (ahem…) very important stuff, and deliver to you all my road trip commandments. Take heed:

Bathroom Breaks Are Essential

Now that I can pee wherever and whenever I want, I’m gonna stop dammit! Also, holding your pee during a road trip can be dangerous. On at least one occasion a strong bout of laughter brought on by some lively conversation caused me to have a wee little accident… Need I say more?

Farting Etiquette

Speaking of bodily functions, for those that absolutely can not hold their farts, the proper etiquette is to announce that you have to fart and then promptly roll your window down to let out the foul air! Don’t release a silent but deadly and then have everyone wondering who done it.

Who Controls the Radio

Who ever is behind the wheel controls the radio. If you’re driving and you want to listen to death metal (to everyone’s dismay) then so be it. But the volume is determined by a democratic vote.

In Case Po-po Pulls You Over

My sophomore year in college a few friends (four black people and two Asians) thought it would be a great idea to rent a van and drive from New Jersey to Panama City, Florida. Of course we got pulled over! Of course we got pulled over in Georgia! The plan we hatched immediately was for everyone to close their eyes and pretend to be sleep, except for the driver. (We figured a car full of sleeping minorities was less threatening…) To my surprise, it worked like a charm. We were let off with a warning to drive carefully and to slow down (even though we were not speeding in the first place). The moral of this story: in case your caravan gets pulled over, the only person speaking to the cop should be the driver. Everyone else should shut up and play dead!

Chatter Box

Some people just don’t know when to shut up… (you know who you are). This is the perfect time to break into song. While the chatter box is mid-sentence just start singing whatever is playing on the radio and reach over and turn up the volume. Rally everyone to join in. Hopefully Chatty Cathy gets the message.

Who’s Driving Anyway?

Backseat drivers… I can’t stand them. I don’t generally advocate violence but sometimes a quick slap in necessary. Just joking..ha ha. Since these control freaks love to be all up in the wheel, why not just pull over and let them take it. Eventually they will get tired of driving and opt to keep their mouth shut.

Is It Hot in Here?

Perhaps the most contentious control on the dash–the temperature. My etiquette dictates that it’s easier to control a cooler environment than a hot one. I actually HATE the AC, but for the sake of my comrades I will put on a sweater and turn the darn thing on if that’s what everyone wants. I can always add clothes, but presumably… I can’t take them all off (in this situation).

That is all…

Any rules you would add? Tell me in the comments below.


One response to “Road Trip Etiquette: 7 Rules

  1. Clearly, my friends and I have no etiquette, especially when it comes to the farting rule. For families, you should add one more … “It’s not acceptable to leave your children at a rest stop … under any circumstance!”.

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