Josh and I decided to fly from California to Cambodia for the TEFL course. This way the flight would be shorter and I could visit my family. And since my sister had already said she’d take my car, we obviously decided to take a road trip! We had the whole trip planned out when we learned we had to take the course in Barcelona. We decided to take the trip, anyways!
Josh and I both had done different cross country road trips, going the southern route. So we decided to go North. This also worked out because we could visit my dad, who lives in Northern California, before driving to Southern California, where my mom and sister live. We added on a couple sites that were easily reached from my mom’s.
The places we chose to go were: Niagara Falls, The Mall of America (not planned, but we had some extra time on the way to →), Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Redwood Forest, then later Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. We also drove through Chicago so we could see the city, and made a pit stop in Wisconsin so I could revel in being surrounded by Green Bay Packers territory and eat real cheese curds.
I hope you can tell that we made it, and we’re alive, but we did have some mishaps along the way. If you’re thinking about going on a road trip with your SO, give these points some consideration. If you want to make your life easier, read these and don’t do what Josh and I did. Or if you really want to test the strength of your relationship, do everything we did and see if you’re still together after your trip!
Plan Your Road Trip Together
Josh actually sucks at planning, so I planned the whole road trip, with some suggestions from him. We had to be at my dad’s house on a certain date, so I really had to figure out how long it would take to drive to and from each destination, and how long we could stay there. This turned out to be a problem because Josh tends to just go with what I plan, without really talking about it or even really looking at the plan.
My plan was to leave early every morning, and stop at a hotel in the evening. What wasn’t communicated was that Josh wanted to drive straight through the night, so we wouldn’t be “wasting” any time.
For Josh this wouldn’t have been a problem, but for me it was a huge one. First of all, I spent A LOT of time figuring out our schedules and drive times and his idea threw that all off, basically throwing my work down the drain. Second, we had to get to my dad’s on a certain day, not before. So if we ended up driving through the night and getting through everything quicker, what were we supposed to do once we were done with the road trip but couldn’t go to my dad’s yet? And third, I enjoy sleeping in a bed, brushing my teeth, and showering in the morning. Driving straight through the night meant I couldn’t do any of that. If we had discussed all this beforehand, it never would have been an issue and we could have had it all figured out before we left.
Well since that issue did occur, we had to make a compromise. Neither of us wanted to do things the way the other wanted, so we had to find a middle ground. We eventually settled on driving for as long as we could at night, and not having to wake up super early (which Josh hates more than anything else). So I got my hotel room, and Josh could drive as long as he wanted at night. Because when he said “drive through the night” he meant both of us. Which I was not about to do.
Discuss Who is Driving When
Josh and I were actually really good about driving for equal amounts of time, with neither driving more than the other. We set ourselves goals, drive for two hours then switch, but we generally found that two hours seemed short. On average, we each drove about four hours before switching. So we didn’t have an issue there. Our issue was that I didn’t want to do the last drive of the night. I see now that it was really unfair for Josh.
Neither of us like driving at night, but he did it more often because I just didn’t want to. Having just left my regular 8 to 4 job, I was used to going to bed early. I, inconsiderately, made Josh drive the majority of the late night drives. He used to work from 5pm to 1am, so I assumed he wouldn’t mind. So when you’re planning out who is driving at what times, be fair. Unless you both have opposite preferences, suck it up and be equal. Or maybe you’ll be the one doing the shit drive every time.
Driver & Passenger Should Be Attentive
The biggest mishap, that annoyed the shit out of me at the time but we now laugh about, was when we drove on Empty for about an hour in the middle of the night, searching for an open gas station. Now that we’re out of the situation and I’m no longer infuriated, I can see that it was both of our faults. It was another late night drive that I forced Josh to do because I didn’t want to.
My forcing a sleepy Josh to drive was a factor in him not noticing how low we were on gas. At the time I was pissed that he wasn’t paying attention to the gas. Its the one thing you need to keep the car going! But now I see that he was being forced to drive late at night, through the middle of nowhere, with no company because I was sleeping, and it’s a miracle that running out of gas was the worst thing that happened.
That’s exactly the type of situation that makes you blank out and stare straight ahead as you drive. So he wasn’t paying attention, but I put him in that situation. If you’re driving, its your responsibility to make sure you’re driving safely and strategically. If you’re the passenger, its your responsibility to make sure the driver doesn’t lose focus. You’re in it together and you have to support each other.
Be Honest About Your Ability to Drive
To reference my little anecdote, it’s really important to let your partner know when you shouldn’t be driving. I can think of one time when I kept driving despite having to squint because my eyes stung from tiredness, just because I wanted to keep our drive times equal. Or the time when Josh kept swerving because he was tired but wanted to drive those last 15 minutes.
Obviously we made it out ok, but that is really dangerous. Yeah we didn’t fall asleep those two times, but what about the next? If the person you’re driving with really is your significant other, think about how you’re endangering them. We all don’t think about the risks we take when it involves only ourselves, but do you want to hurt or even kill the person you love most? No. So think about that before you take those risks.
Make really long and really good playlists. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no new music. Then you have to resort to playing stupid games to keep yourselves entertained. Just skip that step and be prepared.
All in all, Josh and I were pretty good road trip buddies, and there are so many other problems and fights that can occur, but if you think any of these problems might pop up, please learn from our mistakes and don’t follow in our footsteps. Honestly all of these problems could have been avoided if we had communicated our plans and desires for the trip. That’s the most important thing to do before a road trip, but if you didn’t plan so well, communication and compromise are the next best things.
So get out there, plan your road trip, and try not to kill each other. Kidding.