7 Rules for Surviving a Road Trip With Your Other Half

Published 30 March 2016

Hazel Plush

Heading off on a road trip with your partner? Be warned: whether you're navigating Australia's Great Ocean Road, hitting the tarmac along the iconic Route 66, or spotting wildlife along the Icefields Parkway in Canada – one wrong turn can send your relationship into oblivion. Hazel Plush shares her rules for a smooth ride…

SUV driving the Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase Escalante National Park, Utah

The driver is the DJ

The golden rule of road trips: the driver always, ALWAYS gets to choose the music. Riding shotgun? It’s your responsibility to keep the iPod charged, the playlist varied and your chauffeur happy. They want The Lighthouse Family on repeat? No problem. Don’t question the choice – just hit play, dammit. Be warned: by the end of the trip, you’ll probably find yourself singing along too…

One map is never enough

Load the GPS on your phone, fire up the sat nav, and unfurl that massive paper map – when it comes to road trips, you can never have enough navigational back-ups. But choose one, and keep the others on standby: if you’re constantly consulting your gadgets you won’t have time to enjoy the journey itself. We love a good paper map – it makes us feel like proper explorers – but the sat nav is always tucked in the glove box, primed and ready for when we need it.

Taking a break and getting some fresh air on an Omani mountain

You WILL get lost

Embrace it. If your relationship can withstand missing your exit on the world’s longest motorway while trying to decipher Arabic signs, I doff my hat to you. It’s all about your attitude, so attack it with a smile. If possible, pull over and get out the map; it can also help to actually get out of the car (if it’s safe). Take a breath of fresh motorway air and figure it all out.

Getting lost can even be fun – you might stumble across somewhere amazing that wasn’t in the guidebook, have a serendipitous sunset moment, or something romantic like that. Unless you’re on your way to the airport and your flight is in an hour and you’ve been holding the map upside down for the last hour and ohhhh you are lost. In that case: PANIC.

Road-side food in Sri Lanka

Pack a ridiculous amount of snacks

You can never have too much grub – but you knew that, didn’t you? Get your stash from off-road shops and supermarkets, or you’ll be forced to pay through the nose at service stations. You can even pack your favourite snacks in your suitcase. If you’re road tripping in exotic lands, take the time to stop at little road-side stalls or vendors – you’ll discover some real gems.

While bumbling round Sri Lanka, we would stop whenever we passed a coconut stall: half our holiday photos are of us slurping coconut milk through dusty straws. You don’t get that kind of joy from a service station.

Loo stops are non-negotiable

You and your partner might not regularly swap toilet tales, but to survive a road trip together you’ll have to re-think the boundaries. Speak up, or forever hold your pee! If you’re driving, have mercy on your cross-legged passenger – there’s nothing worse than “Just hanging on for the service station after this one” when you really, really need to go.

Forgetting the matches in Oman

Remember you’re on holiday

It might not feel like it when you’re lost AGAIN/stuck in a traffic jam/listening to the third Kylie album in a row, but believe it or not – you are on holiday! When times get tough, you need to pull together as a team, so slap a smile on your face and keep the mood light.

Some of my funniest road trip memories are the times when things didn’t go to plan – the broken windscreen wipers in a torrential storm, for example, or my map-reading fail in the Dubai desert. But don’t mention the time when we went wild camping in Oman, driving for hours through the desert to sleep on an utterly unspoilt beach – but SOMEONE forgot the matches for the barbecue. That, my friends, is one incident we must never speak of.

Getting out of the car in Spain

Get out of the goddamn car

Sometimes, the best bits of road trips are when you’re not on the road at all – you’re out on your own two feet, strolling through far-flung towns or scaling spectacular mountains. Like all good things, the open road is best enjoyed in moderation, so for the sake of your sanity (and your relationship) get out and stretch your legs. Just don’t lock the keys in the car.

You might also like:

Australia's Ultimate Road Trips

5 Tips for Driving Canada's Icefields Parkway


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