Among the many pastimes Australians hold dear, the summer road trip ranks highly – and not only because we lack the likes of Japan’s alluringly efficient Shinkansen. From wilderness-crossing trips out west to coast-hugging itineraries through the lush greenery of Australia’s Eastern states, hitting the road with a bunch of pals is one of the best ways of both getting out and then getting amongst it.
While the road trip is one travel format that actually lends itself quite well to spontaneity and catering to those who may have, shall we say, something of a “loose unit” travelling style, some ground rules must be laid. A healthy sense of resilience and ability to be flexible will serve you well beyond just when you’re travelling, but some additional well-placed road trip rules will absolutely make for a smoother ride.
In the interests of making sure you get to your destinations without a tire or friendship blowout, here are the official unofficial rules for a road trip.
#1 Driver picks the music
Now, the original guideline went something along the lines of “driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.” In the interests of a slightly more amicable car atmosphere, we’re going to augment this rule to say that road trip playlists may be collaborative. Podcast episode suggestions may be broached to the travelling party. An aux cord DJ may be allowed to flex their skills for various periods of time. Ultimately though, when push truly comes to shove, the driver has veto power over the music soundtracking your summer road trip.
To put it simply, the driver has the fast and furious fate of everyone in the car in their hands and thus must be respected. They may also make calls about the volume of said music at any given point in time.
#2 Shotgun is navigator
The shotgun passenger sits in a crucial seat, one with great responsibility that operates in tandem with the driver. Whilst on the road, it is the shotgun’s obligation to act as a clear and capable navigator. It’s true that because we live in the age of the smartphone, it’s likely that there’ll be GPS directions running regardless of whether someone is actively navigating or not. Regardless, the shotgun should be ready at all times to let the driver know if it’s this left or the next one.
In addition to this, we’d lay another road trip rule that the shotgun must be awake and open for conversation or consultation with the driver. (Unless the driver is alright with them sleeping, of course.)
#3 If there are more than three people, there must be two or more drivers
This road trip rule is in place as such because while a benevolent driver may be happy to ferry one or two close friends around Australia’s finest tarmac, being the sole driver amongst four or more people ain’t it.
Sharing the driving load entirely equally may not always be possible based on your itinerary and various skill levels – for example, some people might be more comfortable driving in the rain than others and would take on more driving hours in bad weather – but we’re aiming for a relatively equal spread here.
It is, however, unacceptable to avoid driving by not signing the rental agreement if you’re renting a car. Apex Car Rentals doesn’t charge for additional drivers, so everyone in your crew who can drive, should drive.
#4 Significant non-accommodation stops must be planned in advance or agreed on by everyone
Adding in very necessary fuel and bathroom breaks are fine, but if you’re going on a detour to visit an antique shop that you and only you went to as a child, the whole party must agree to it. Ideally though, everyone’s desired brunches, pub lunches, or stops at esoteric sights are added into your group holiday Google Sheet before you’re on the road.
#5 Adjust yourself first before asking for adjustments
We hope that most of the time this rule would be covered by people’s general conscientiousness. However, sometimes the obvious needs to be said. If you’re feeling too warm, try changing into a lighter layer or having a cold drink before cracking the windows. If you’re too cold, put on a jumper before asking for the temperature to be raised. In short, if there’s something you can do to achieve more comfort, do that first before adjusting a setting that changes everyone’s environment.
#6 Snacks = sharing is caring
Do you know what they call variety? The spice of life. A variety of road trip snacks can thus only contribute to the spiciness of said trip. As well as making sure to bring an abundance of snacks, we’d also say that as a general rule, sharing them will generally be the go. It’s fun, it’s a conversation (or debate) topic, it’s a way to break bread and continue to bond on the road between destinations.
The obvious exception is if someone doesn’t bring snacks, or brings terrible snacks. In which case, you have bigger issues than these rules can address.
Start your next road trip with Apex Car Rentals. Find out more and book a car here.
(Lead image: Jorge Saavedra / Unsplash)