Unless you’re going on a road trip with your family – in which case you don’t have a choice – the selection of your road trip partner(s) is one of the most important choices you make when planning your vacation.
Road trip partners who seem obvious, like your best friend or your boyfriend/girlfriend, may not be the perfect choices you think they are. Road trips are the litmus test of relationships – you’ll find out your true compatibility as your trip progresses. As Mark Twain wisely said, “I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
So what do you do? Where to start?
The Right Stuff
Start by choosing someone that you generally get along with in most situations. If you and your best friend tend to have a lot of blowups and fights (even though you love each other), maybe your best friend isn’t the right person. My ex-best friend and I went on a road trip together to Block Island that literally ended our friendship because we fought so much!
Also, make sure the person you’re traveling with has the same travel mind-set. If you’re all about must-see checklists and running from sight to sight and they’re all about chilling out and exploring in a relaxed way, you’re probably going to run into trouble.
Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, selecting a destination that you’re all excited about can make a huge difference. It may seem like a no-brainer, but many people neglect taking the time to sit down and make a group decision either because they’re too busy so they just pick whatever destination comes to mind or because they don’t feel like dealing with the whole process of meeting and figuring it out (and possibly dealing with some disagreement).
The best way to do this is to make a little party out of it – get some pizza (or something else that appeals) and great drinks (alcoholic or not) and invite your fellow road-trippers over to your place. You’ll all be in a relaxed state of mind and this will really help you work out something in an enjoyable way. Be open and listen, but don’t settle for anything less than complete and enthusiastic agreement on your destination.
Once you’ve selected the perfect partner(s) and destination for your road trip, make sure to take care of one last and very important piece of housekeeping. If you and your road trip partners have anything that’s been bubbling under the surface of your relationship – something that one of you is mad about or there’s an irritating quirk that you’ve been ignoring – now is the time to bring it up.
Why not just blow it off – it’s been this long, right? Well, a road trip is a lot like a pressure cooker and a problem with your relationship is like a break in the seal of that pressure cooker. All that time together with very little personal space in the car, driving for hours and getting tired, and occasionally getting lost and upset are all realities of road tripping (along with all the fun, laughter and bonding you’ll be having on your vacation).You put that problem (break) inside the intensity of a road trip (pressure cooker) and something’s going to blow!
Sit down and gently talk it out. Never talk about the problem with anyone other than the person with whom you have the problem as this will drag the other person into it and make the whole thing worse. Talk from an “I” standpoint – “I don’t like country music that much, and I know you love it. Can we figure something out that both of us can live with?” not “Your country music drives me crazy. Don’t you dare play it on our road trip!”
Taking the time before you go to select the right person, pick a destination you’re all excited about, and address these potential issues with your traveling partners can make a huge difference in the quality of your road trip.