Being the driver on a lengthy road trip is a big responsibility, but being a good passenger is just as important. Here are some things to keep in mind next time you’re riding shotgun.
1. Leave the AC Alone
Maybe the driver keeps the car a little too cool for your liking—or maybe it’s too hot. You’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Fiddling with the car’s AC is distracting for the driver and strictly off-limits when you’re a passenger. You can, however, close or redirect the vents closest to you. If you’re prone to feeling chilled, be sure to bring along a sweater or jacket extra layers of clothing or a blanket with you. If you tend to overheat easily, wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing.
2. Let the Driver Pick the Tunes
Next time you’re tempted to change the radio station or turn off the driver’s playlist, remember—you’re getting a free ride! Never turn off the driver’s choice of music, no matter how much you dislike it. But if you find the volume too loud—or too low—it is acceptable to politely ask the driver if you can turn it down (or up), to avoid having them take their eyes off the road. If your musical tastes differ, think of the trip as a chance to expand your musical horizons and remind yourself, the trip won’t last forever. Plus, be ready with some good conversation starters when you get tired of listening to tunes.
3. Stay Awake
Unless you’re under the weather or exceptionally exhausted, it’s considered bad form to fall asleep as a passenger. Your job is to keep the driver company and offer assistance when necessary. And if you’re on the road late at night, it’s even more important to stay awake and talk to the driver and keep an eye out for rest stops when needed —neither of you should be the least bit drowsy. If you have trouble staying awake in the car, it might be a good idea to bring some caffeinated beverages along with you for the ride.
4. Don’t Hog the Armrest
We’ve all been on an airplane where the person sitting next to us is hogging the armrest. Well, guess what? It’s just as annoying when it happens in a car. If you’re in a vehicle that has an armrest between the driver and passenger, let the driver have it—it’s the polite thing to do. Similarly, don’t hog the center cup holders. It’s acceptable to put one of your bottles of water there—but no more than one!
5. Be Ready to Help
If your driver gets lost or the GPS is on the fritz, be prepared to help out at a moment’s notice. This means watching for exit ramps and street signs, and having your smartphone ready so you can find the best route to your destination. Be sure your phone has a full charge before the start of your trip, since older cars won’t have USB ports you can use. And try to familiarize yourself with the driver’s planned route before you depart—you never know when that knowledge will come in handy.
Taking a road trip? Here’s what to pack for the journey.