Planning A Road Trip This Year? Here are 7 Must-Read Rules for the Road

Road tripping to Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Scott Birke photo

We all love our local hill—the place we can call our own, where we bagged our first pow day and earned our first battle wounds. We know the secret stashes, we know the best hit runs, and we know to gun it if we really want to send it over that last park booter. Heck, we even know how to weasel the lunch lady into cutting a deal on the hearty soup and sandwich combo. But as snowboarding goes, it’s only normal to want to break out and explore fresh terrain and new adventures. That’s why the winter road trip is as much ingrained in snowboarding as early tweaked airs or epic pow days. But before hitting the ol’ dusty trail, you and your car companions should agree on a few simple rules.…

It is the destination, after all

The question “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived?” sounds like a chapter heading from a textbook with a mustachioed guy in a tie giving the thumbs-up on the cover. But I assure you, this is practically the ultimate Zen koan of the road. A few days on the highway are as equally an acceptable destination as any point on a map. And, really, it’s not so much that you will know when you’ve arrived, but more practically so you can gauge when to turn your ass around and head home. Calling in sick and going one day deeper into the Kootenays could cost you your job. But, hey, it could also mean the best turns of your life.

The medium is the message

On a road trip it’s best to do road trip things. If you want to be fancy or you have a low tolerance for inconvenience, then the trip is not for you. Exploring small mountain towns, interacting with strangers named Earl, and eating at roadside stands that sell odd fare, like Indian tacos at Chief Chiniki (along the Trans-Canada en route to Banff), all require a sense of adventure and a suspension of disbelief that standard cuisine doesn’t demand.

You’ll never see those people again

This means that it’s perfectly OK to let yourself go and unleash the disheveled, greasy dirtbag from within. This is the one time in your life that you can bathe in a highway gas station or finally karaoke to Journey sober and not feel like a complete douche because, hey, you won’t be back in St-Sauveur for at least another season.

Nothing’s shocking

Do not travel with anyone you are not prepared to share your life story and habits with. After 10 hours of driving, nothing is off limits. Childhood phobias, sexual fantasies, bodily function cycles… hell, even pet names for an ex’s nether regions—all of these will inevitably make their way into the conversation. So swallow your pride and modesty in the first hour, and deliciously shocking rounds of confessions will ensue throughout the trip. Plus, you’ll have plenty of inside jokes.

Packed like sardines

It’s a fact when rats are cornered, they attack. Stuck in a car for days on end is not the right time to try and find out if your girlfriend really likes your mom, your boyfriend thinks you’re prettier than his ex, or what the guys from your band’s honest opinion is about that thing you do on stage with the lipstick and flailing arms.

Don’t bogart the Doritos

Share and share alike. If your passenger is asleep, you may draw obscenities on his face and eat his Twizzlers, but you must be prepared to make a pit stop to replace it within 30 minutes of his waking up. The significance of road trip munchies should not be underestimated.

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk? 

It’s tempting to pile up the back seat with a bunch of junk for easy access, but the only items allowed in the car are snacks, a small cooler, camera, a few CDs (if you still roll like that), one book or magazine per person, sunglasses, a map, and a hoodie. Otherwise the physical chaos permeates into the psychic space. Sounds like new-age hippie crap, but be assured, this is old-school wisdom.


Got any of your own tips to share? Let us know!