Aside from growing up in a city where there is almost always something to do, there was another huge benefit to living in New York. With the Northeast being as concise as it is, most states just require a weekend, and a decent car to be able to visit. Naturally, as soon as most of my friends were of driving age, it was impossible to stop us from venturing out to a new town whenever we had the opportunity. Eventually, our road trips extended slightly further down the East Coast. And while we have yet to take on an extensive cross-country trip, you get a good sense of each of your friends’ travel personas when you’re stuck in two cars during a fourteen-hour drive to Myrtle Beach.
This friend, found in the passengers seat, holds many important responsibilities including managing the GPS, having all necessary addresses readily available, and making close calls when it comes to turns on foreign roads. This role is essentially one of the most important, as the driver is too busy being a responsible driver and keeping his eyes on the road to be able to make any Apple Maps or GPS adjustments. Aside from making sure everyone gets to their final destination in a timely manner, the Co-Captain may also inadvertently become manager of the aux cord which is largely responsible for the theme of the drive.
The Hype Man
This friend doesn’t always offer much other than loud singing, non-stop talking, and narrating every sign that you drive past. But what would a road trip be without that friend who shouts “Cracker Barrel!” every time you pass a rest stop?
This the friend who you generally love, but who finds a way to grind everyone’s gears on a road trip; Generally by nitpicking the tiniest of details, and by having a problem with virtually everything. Like being the only one who doesn’t want to stop at that roadside diner, or wanting to specifically sit on that one side of the car for no other reason but preferring it. Luckily, if you grew up with siblings, it’s easy to tune out this friends negativity for a majority of the ride.
This is the friend who has no problem forcing the driver to pull over at the side of the road because “the angle of that distant mountain range looks beautiful from here” as if you’re not headed in that direction anyway. But who else would develop a full Facebook album of trip photos that the rest of the group could miserably look through while they’re back at work the next week?
This friend isn’t even there, in a figurative sense of course. This friend is not part of any of the conversations, bad singing, or rounds of “Don’t Get Me Started” during the ride because they are sleeping during the entire trip. But they do make occasional appearances during food breaks, at rest stops, or during border crossings.
This friend may be high in the rankings as everyone’s favorite friend to road trip with, due in part to the bag of the snacks and cooler of water bottles that enter the car along with them. In my group of friends, this friend is also the one who loves to drive the longest stretches, carries a flashlight with two sets of extra batteries, and always has a pocket knife and a new box of matches. If I had to choose one person to be on my zombie apocalypse team, this would definitely be my first choice.
This friend has researched all the most popular sights and attractions in every town you’re passing through. And while you may not be particularly interested in visiting the “World’s Biggest Whatever”, this friend also has the names and Yelp rating for all the local food spots along the way.
One of the most spectacular parts of traveling is meeting new people, but often some of the greatest people are the ones who were along for the ride. We’ve had our share of mishaps, from wrong directions to spontaneous blizzards, to car sickness, but I still can’t wait to be back on the road, in an overly packed car with my best friends, while jamming to “American Pie.”
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