My boyfriend and I love to travel, and just got back a few weeks ago from traveling around Europe- 6 countries in 6 days (you can see recaps of the trip in my Travels page)! This was our first time traveling long distances many days in a row, and I learned a lot about spending hours in a cramped space without killing each other...and making it fun. Here are the 10 most important things we found:
1. Share the driving. We did not do this and I regret it. Dom rented a manual car, which I can't drive. What I didn't plan on was that since I was not driving, I was putting myself in danger of almost dying driving up the wrong mountain. These are not things you think about when deciding who is driving, but let me tell you...the more you drive the less likely you are to die. Also, your man might decide to drive 220 KPH on the Autobahn. If you can't drive? More gray hairs for you.
2. Say "No" to renting a Smart Car.
I know they're cute. I know they're irresistible. But 10 minutes later I promise all you will be thinking about are your poor cramped legs. Even if it is pink.
3. Learn to keep quiet. Now, I don't mean singing here. As the passenger, I took it as my responsibility to sing loudly to every song that I knew. Dom would never admit it, but he loved it deep deep down. But really, since I wasn't behind the wheel I would notice roads coming up we were supposed to turn on, and if Dom missed it I would immediately yell, "We were supposed to turn there!" or "wrong way!" I didn't think much of it. Then I realized that was actually stressing him out more. He was driving in a foreign country with crazy (or nonexistent) road signs, and focusing on keeping us alive. The last thing he needed was for me to start yelling if we made a wrong turn. So, I started keeping quiet. After a wrong turn the GPS would recalculate, and we'd get back on track. It sounds silly, but being on "a team" on this adventure made it more fun and less stressful on both of us. I trusted that he would get us there safely, and he did! So what if we made a few wrong turns? They became something to laugh about, instead of apologize and feel guilty. Much more fun that way!
Note: If you start to drive the wrong way down a one way it is 100% acceptable to speak up. Quicky. Another lesson learned.
4. Kissing the driver on the cheek is always a good idea. Enough said.
5. Pack lots of bite sized food. I don't care how long your trip is, if you have snacks you will be happy. Erin and I are both huge fans of candy, and that's what I always want to bring on road trips. Bad news bears. On a short trip? Perfectly fine. After you have been in the car for a long time you will feel gross and icky no matter what. Might as well pack something healthy so you don't feel like a gross, icky, slug when you arrive. The delicious gas station food looks amazingly tempting, but you will regret it, I promise you! We packed nuts, granola bars and water (boring) but we always reached our next country refreshed and ready to explore! Why bite sized? Your significant other will always claim he doesn't want anything...until you're eating. Make sure you're eating something you can feed him!
6. Make a super cheesy playlist. Sure, you can listen to the radio, but making a funny playlist of songs you both love, meaningful songs, or 90s throwbacks will make the time fly so much faster. Laughing and waiting to see what song is next makes all those miles that much more fun!
This sounds basic, but sometimes people don't think about it until you're in the middle of nowhere. On a different excursion, I was driving and had to pee so badly I actually thought I would explode. What did Dom do? He tickled me. And video taped it. Just to see if I would pee my pants! (I didn't) Don't put yourself in that position.
9. Take a picture on the top of every mountain.
10. Expect the Unexpected. Leave early. Have that extra time so you're not rushed. Take the few extra minutes to drive down the road all decked out in Christmas lights. Drive by the water. Explore a little town's charm. Make it fun. The road trip doesn't need to be a means to an end, it can be one of the most fun parts of the adventure!