Yes, I know it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and road trips are great fun for everyone, and all that, but the fact is, they’re often very boring if you’re not the driver. The cry “Are we there yet?” never really dies. It merely transforms into “I hope we’re there before it gets dark.”
Looking at lovely, awe-inspiring scenery is fine, if there’s lovely, awe-inspiring scenery and it’s not the same for 3 hours, counting sheep and cows is stupid and even more boring, and punching the person next to you when you spot a certain car coming the other way constitutes statutory assault.
So we’ve decided on better ideas to keep you amused on the long and tedious road trips with your friends and family.
1) STOP AND LOOK AT THINGS
Yes, it’s annoying after every toilet stop to hop back into the car and find the ETA on the GPS has another ten minutes added to it, but if roadtrippery is a lot about the journey and not just the destination, then places along the way are part of the experience.
And how many times do you hear people say, “We found this lovely little place on the way to...” So stop at that vineyard museum, and the country town chocolate factory, and Johnny Gilbert’s grave.
2) LISTEN TO AN AUDIOBOOK
In theory, reading on a road-trip sounds like a great idea. However, there’s this catch called motion sickness, and if you’re smug and think you don’t succumb to it, let me tell you I used to be able to read Pinocchio with impunity even when people were vomiting around me. I can’t anymore. It could happen to you too.
Thankfully, there’s a thing called audiobooks. The downsides are that you can’t pause the narrative to howl with laughter, and then read over it to howl again, but the benefits are that everyone, including the driver, can demolish books on the reading list. Like...
3) OVERTAKE A LOGGING TRUCK
Passing these huge beasts, with the ever-present hypothetical possibility of one of those logs rolling off and coming through your windscreen at 100km/h, is a thrill for both passengers and driver. Do it whenever you see one, except where double-white lines are concerned.
4) HAVE A MINT
Eating is a great thing to do when you're bored, but not only is eating everything except a full meal quite short-lived, it’s also a messy thing to do in the car. But a mint, on the other hand, is something you suck on for half an hour, and then when it’s gone you set yourself a time when you can have another one.
A great alternative is chocolate eclairs. Getting them off your teeth with your tongue prolongs the amusement.
5) WATCH A MOVIE (DRIVER EXEMPT)
Some people say that when they were children and travelling places, they didn’t have movies like kids today and instead, had to be sociable with their family. Generally this means they pulled each other’s bowl cuts.
Fact is, it’s amazing how a good movie like Bridge of Spies can obliterate three hours in a journey. This means that the whole trip is in a more enjoyable quantity, and in fact, if you’ve just finished watching a bush murder mystery, and you’re travelling through bushland, it can enhance the experience.
If you’re watching Star Wars Episode 8, however, you will get car sick. Because midway through you started reading.
6) GO TO SLEEP (DRIVER EXEMPT)
We all know that as a society, we are consistently under-sleeping. And not getting enough sleep is responsible for an increased risk of disease, general grumpiness, a lack of humour on the internet and the sidewalk, and impaired judgement. We could possibly even trace the rising popularity of Marxism to it.
Road-trips provide a great opportunity to improve your sleep credit. You’re sitting in one position, a comfortable if not reclining position, and you might say that you can’t actually sleep in a car. But the worst that can happen when you close your eyes is that you’ll just rest. Anyway, a travel pillow can help.
And if the driver goes to sleep, you will bring the ETA 80 years earlier.
7) HAVE AN ARGUMENT
They say arguments in the car are a leading cause of drivers getting distracted and crashing through living rooms. True, if we’re talking about Cassie and Tyler punching each other in the back seats, but the real definition of an argument doesn’t preclude the kind of reasoned, passionate debate that is a dying art and science. Have someone in a middle seat moderate, and you’ll be fine.
Some great igniters are:
1) Donald Trump is the President America needs
2) Elon Musk
3) We should eat more red meat
4) Kennedy was actually killed by his wife
8) LISTEN TO MUSIC
Music does take you places, so it’s a great diversion, but there might be a problem. Rarely will you road trip with someone who won’t judge your Playlist. So either everyone has their own and plugs it into their ears, or you combine this with #7.
Alternatively, you could play Beethoven. No one can judge that.
9) SEE HOW MANY TIMES YOU CAN LOOK AT THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU WITHOUT THEM SEEING
This is a variation on the theme of Making Stupid Faces at People on Their Phones Until They Look Up Blinking. The idea is you swivel your eyes, or your head slightly - if their peripheral vision is so bad it’s getting boring – until they become aware.
And if your fellow travel companions are all doing #6, try putting stickers on them. It’s a brilliant thing to do.
10) PLAY BATTLESHIP (DRIVER EXEMPT)
Unless you’ve got a magnetic travel set, playing chess in the car always results in premature checkmate, but battleship pins and ships stay put, or at least they should. What's more, the battleship board is like a laptop, so it can, er, sit on your lap.
If you’re playing with the front passenger, sooner or later you will see their ship arrangement. Be clever with this discovery.
BONUS 11TH) DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR
Yes, you don’t have the camaraderie, and you have to pay all the petrol, but the benefit is you can turn up your music and upshift into the sunset.
IF YOU'VE GOT ANY TIPS FOR STAYING AMUSED ON ROAD TRIPS, LET'S HEAR THEM...
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