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How to master the road trip

Gabriela Leskur | Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I have mastered the family road trip.

Over the past 18 years, I have spent more time in a car with my close family members than anyone else I know. 

Granted, as an only child, I’ve never had to deal with siblings nagging me constantly as I cross the country in a beat-up Impala. But weathering the quirks of my mom and my grandparents makes me feel as if the fact that I have survived such trips is a miracle nonetheless.

In fact, this past weekend, I spent around 30 hours in a car with my loved ones making our way to North Carolina for Easter. 

Yet, despite all that time spent in terribly close proximity with my family, I still consider them loved ones at the end of the journey.

You may read this incredulously. You may be perplexed. “How is such a feat possible?” you may ask. “You still like your family after spending that much time with them?” you may wonder. Valid questions, to which I have some answers.

Here is some advice for the weary traveler attempting to survive a family road trip:



If you aren’t the driver, take advantage of the glory of sleep. As a crazy college student taking a million credits and participating in a billion clubs, I assume that you have acquired an impressive sleep debt. Last time I conferred with my subconscious, I believe that I was about 15 hours behind in my sleep. Fortunately, my car ride was about 30 hours. As you can guess, I spent a good amount of time on the road trip dreaming of fro-yo, paid internships at Google, and summer. Glorious hours, I tell you, simply a wonderful time. I suggest you do the same.


Shuffle up your iPod

If sleep is beyond your grasp, pop in those nifty little head phones you bought from the vending machine in the basement of your dorm (who knew?) and shuffle your songs. There is nothing like a good car trip to discover lost gems on your iPod. Perhaps you will stumble upon that rendition of the “I Don’t Trust Myself” cover by Mike Posner. Sophomore year of high school flashback, anyone?

Maybe you’ll actually listen to that one random song “Selene” on that album you downloaded a while ago. Maybe you’ll find this to be your new favorite song. 

Add a little shuffle to your life, that’s about as spiced up as it’s going to get in the tight quarters of your grandparent’s minivan.


Take Control of the Radio

If you don’t have the opportunity to drift away into the land of Z’s or find solace in your iPod, do whatever you can to get control of the radio. Bribe, steal and cheat-the normal moral choices in any given situation, obviously. Even drive if need be. You do not want your grandmother listening to some obscure Croatian religious singer on full volume because she lost her hearing a while ago while you slowly die inside. Avoid this at all costs.


Start a Conversation

A crazy thought, I know. Talk to your family? That’s totally unrealistic and completely archaic. But before the age of text messaging and emails, family members actually communicated with each other using the spoken word and some good things came out of such conversation. Or so I hear. 

Who knows, you might end up having an hour and a half long discussion with your 74-year-old ethnic grandfather about gay marriage. You might come to respect him more than you had before. You might learn more about yourself in the process. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that you’re great grandfather was an awesome anti-communist ninja who lived under a fake identity for years trying to escape persecution and death, eventually making his way to America with his wife (true story.)


Do Homework

Just kidding. Do not, I repeat, do not read a chapter of “The Red Queen” that’s all about sex on sex on sex while sitting next to your grandpa. That situation breeds awkward. You have been warned.


Contact Gabriela Leskur at [email protected]

The views in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.