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Tripping with a Significant Other: A Forewarning

So, your significant other suggested a road trip, and you were all like, “Road trip? Heck yeah!” Then you both jumped in the car, tripped on the aforementioned road, and a memorable time was had by all. Right?

“Not so fast, Pacsafe,” you scream. “My trip was fraught with an array of complications arising from unforeseen factors the likes to which I tendered nary a thought prior to sallying forth upon our tempestuous wayfaring.”

Not only do you possess the ability to turn a fine phrase, but you’ve also hit the flat part on top of a metaphorical nail. Lest a novice road tripper be misled, road trips can be a “Freeway of Love” or a straight-up “Highway to Hell.” Making your experience conform to the former and not the latter depends on the breadth of preparation invoked by all parties involved. Namely…

Elect a Radio God
Otherwise known as the DJ, the radio god controls the music. Are you one of those pie-in-the-sky types who pets butterflies and frolics with puppies all the while fooling yourself into believing that both driver and passenger will have a say in the day’s selected tunes? THINK AGAIN, ROOKIE. Will you feel so equitable when the newest tweeny love ballad starts shredding your inner eardrums? Or will you find yourself involuntarily punching the radio just to make the evil noises go away? Complain or turn the channel and you buy a one-way ticket to Fight Town (which borders Silent Resentmentburg and Cold Shoulderville). The first rule of Fight Town? Let one person, and ONLY one person, fiddle with the music.

Let the backseat driver take the wheel
Sure, you may be good with directions, have extra-sensory GPS, or otherwise be the safer driver, but none of that matters if the passenger is dead set on nit-picking while you drive. Love them though you may, you can’t deny they fit the definition of a backseat driver. In which case, you should do the sensible thing by christening them Handler of the Wheel for the duration of the trip. Want to flaunt the rules by insisting you drive? Fine, but remember, you’ll be on the road with them for hours. HOURS. It’s a crime to push someone out of a moving vehicle, just fyi.

Stay sharp the week before
You must always take into account the personal turmoil experienced by your sweetheart in the days leading to said trip. In the heat of the moment, a road trip can sound really swell for someone who’s had a crappy week, but that crap can come back to haunt both of you whilst enduring the natural stresses of a highway-based adventure. Has your girl shoveled dung for her boss all week? Over the last few days, has your man repeatedly verbalized his desire to kick a wall, his computer, or the neighbor’s dog? One small irritant, such as playing your favorite smooth jazz CD or stubbornly demanding lunch at a bohemian restaurant that lets you eat with your feet, can be enough to morph your S.O. into a road-tripping, road-raging beast. Either stay home and chill, or let them have their way on the road so you can avoid the meltdown.

If you drive , never refuse directions
Say you’re closing in on that bustling metropolis of Appleton, Wisconsin, and you absolutely know for a fact Exit 1 takes you into the heart of the Big Appleton. But your passenger, who claims to be your beloved, rebuffs your directional mastery by matter-of-factly pointing out that Exit 5A is what you need. Rather than breaking up and making them walk home, you can either A) ignore them, or B) take their advice and avoid a blow-up. So what if you’ve only driven this route 500 times in the last month? They’re just being helpful, if a bit mouthy and controlling, so you would be well-advised to relieve the pressure by listening to them. That way, not only have you avoided a road trip fight, but when they’re wrong you can belittle them until you see tears. Then crank up the radio amidst their wracking sobs.

Next stop: Fantasy Land
If the above tips haven’t convinced you, here’s an upfront debunking of the road trip mystique: They are not a cover for what ails you and your significant other. No amount of tripping hither and thither about the Great Striped Blacktop will guarantee romantic bliss. There exists no road trip fairy who confettis you with “get-along-and-be-happy” dust. Flipping the finger to everyday life by trekking someplace removed from routine might seem like a surefire way to give the relationship a boost, but it only works if your fundamentals are intact. Whatever you do, under no circumstances are you to slap rubber to road and expect miracles. Heck, even good relationships bend under the volatility inherent in a road trip. Two unhappy people will be withstanding the same stresses, including crazy drivers, sour weather, shifting moods in music, pee breaks, wrong directions, construction, ganky GPSes, car troubles, and deep, intimate talks that inevitably break down into shouting matches about exes. “If you think he’s such a great guy, then why don’t you go back to him already?” And so on. The road trip, she can be a cruel mistress.


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