When someone calls shotgun: Car etiquette for road tripping to hell

2018-09-06 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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cool dog with glasses looking out of a car window

Road trip etiquette before it descents into hell. (Photo: iStock)

Road trips can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times.

While sometimes you may have a choice in your trip buddies, there are other times where the road gods have deemed it necessary to pair you with the loud-chewing boyfriend of your best friend, or your sibling that has no concept of 'personal space'.

If you're dreading your upcoming descent into hell, here are a few ways to lessen the drama of road tripping and up passive-aggressive antics that will surefire win you friends and roast your enemies.

SEE: Map your route: Why old-fashioned road trips are becoming trendy again

Honour the rules of Shotgun

There's always going to be that one person who eats Weet-bix for breakfast and wears socks with loafers and says things like, "Uh guys, Shotgun is so childish." Excuse me, it's the perfect method to determine who sits in the front in a completely democratic way that tests your reflexes in a non-sport environment. People are only against Shotgun when they're too slow on the uptake. 

Doesn't work so great with your parents though.

Snacks keep the demons at bay

Beware the road trip where no one has snacks - that they are willing to share. A car full of hangry people who haven't been able to move around for hours might just summon their inner demons and make for one infernal ride to hell.

If you're unlucky enough to be sequestered to the dreaded Middle Seat, know that you will be in charge of distributing the heavenly snacks - or hoard it all for yourself.

ALSO SEE: West Coast Way: SA's road trip with the most twists

Just listen to a general radio station so that peace can reign

Few things have tripped up road trippers as much as the fight for what music to listen to drown out the inevitable existential crisis you're bound to experience when staring into the distance for hours. The easiest solution is to just put on an easy-listening radio station where everyone can be angry together at the disembodied radio DJ. Unless it's a group effort, anyone singing along to the songs will be unanimously ostracised for the duration of the trip. 

Also this is the era of smartphones and Spotify - road trips are why headphones exist.


Only those in the front have any say on how to get there

Can all the backseat drivers in the back hear? Only the gods of the front seats have any say on how you get to your destination, and being the first to call shotgun comes with its own realm of responsibilities. Unless the driver knows where to go, the only person allowed to give directions is the co-driver and the robotic lullaby of the Google Maps lady.

Even if you're headed straight for a cliff, those in the backseat keep their lips zipped.

SEE: The three most common insurance claims during a road trip

Being the driver doesn't mean you get to be a tyrant

We've all journeyed with THAT driver that wants you to be in a bladder-coma before stopping at a petrol station for a toilet break. These tyrants need to be kept in check by the other passengers in a unified front, complete with a manifesto and appointed leader for the rebellion.

This is also applicable to farm stall stops, scenic Instagram photo opportunities and the occasional motion-sickness.

Road-trip games are for the weak

If you can't hold a conversation for a few hours, you're road tripping with the wrong people. Succumbing to the seduction of road trip games will normally start off as a simple way to pass the time, but eventually it will either turn into a blood sport filled with bruised shoulders or peter out into an awkward quiet where no one really wants to play anymore but is too bored to say so.

Again, this is why headphones exist.

ALSO SEE: The ultimate pit stop experiences to pump up your SA road trip

No one gets to hog the charger

Unless you're one of those uber prepared road-trippers with a solar-powered multi-charge power station, everyone is going to be clamouring for that single USB port of gold to keep their phones alive (probably from listening to music on their headphones). The co-driver needs to manage this power system, allocating charging times to those who need it most, and setting time limits so that everyone has a chance to be anti-social.

Unless someone is live-Tweeting the whole trip - cut those snitches off.


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