[Cover photo: group cooking for the whole 11-person group]
As a bucket list item for many people, road trips sound simple enough- but if Intersession taught me one thing, it is that they can be much more complicated than just packing your car with your luggage and friends and taking off. So, before you go ahead and take off, you need to take note of these essential tips:
1. Group size
Yes, you can technically bring as many people as you want, even double digits. However, you will need to account for how tight your schedule is. If you need to leave early to get to an attraction on the road, a large group might take an exhaustively long time to get ready. Considering how you will feed the group is also important: no one wants "hangry" car companions. Cooking is great for big groups, but restaurants can pose a challenge not only when it comes to getting a table that is big enough, but also in making sure any dietary restrictions are not a problem.
2. Know the traffic rules
This applies especially if you are driving in a country you were not raised in. Traffic rules might be mostly constant across the world but watch out for minor differences (or major ones like driving on the other side of the road!). You might wind up with the police taking your car’s plates because you parked in an "apparently" restricted area that wasn’t all that apparent. (This is a true story … never park near a sidewalk with a yellow line in Mexico!) Small hiccups like this can cause big problems and hold back the trip. Trust me, no one wants to sit at a police station waiting to pay a fine when they could be sightseeing, eating and having fun.
[Victory pic after recovering the car’s license plates from the police.]
3. Choose the correct vehicle
Having a car that is the right size and can cope with the roads you are heading to is extremely important. Even though five people could theoretically fit into your friend’s Civic, it doesn’t mean they would be comfortable during the trip, nor does it mean that all the luggage they need to pack would fit in the trunk. In addition, you should account for what type of roads you are going to take. Going off-roading? Don't take your mother’s or aunt’s minivan. Your car’s MPG is also important especially for a long road trip where gas prices will end up adding up pretty quickly.
[Happy people in an appropriately-sized vehicle.]
4. Hydrate don’t die-drate
If you are hiking, visiting ruins or at an overall hot and humid place, you will want to have water - even if not for you but for the comfort of everyone riding with you. Don't over-hydrate though or you will be stopping at every rest stop along the way for bathroom breaks!
5. Assigned tasks
This part sounds lame, but having driven for a few road trips, it has always been great to have someone help you with the navigation or by pointing out places of interest. You can also have a designated DJ for the ride, which can help introduce people to new music instead of your six-hour playlist of Frank Sinatra. Having someone take care of something in the car is a great way to make sure all the bases of the trip are covered. People can also switch duties throughout the drive so not one person is stuck doing “work.”
These are the main things I learned road tripping through intersession; I hope they are useful to you all in the future!