Photo: Carlus Koopman/Shutterstock

16 Realities You'll Face on a Road Trip

by Emma Thieme Apr 21, 2014
1. Failed plans

After making it to Vail, CO, and realizing that lift tickets are $200, you might just decide to go to a marijuana dispensary and lie comatose on your friend’s bed all weekend.

2. A lowering of personal standards for restroom facilities

It may have been sketchy when you had to walk through a barred door in the back of the warehouse. It may have been gross when you had to walk by a pile of fly-infested pork on the ground. But it was downright disgusting when you just sat down on the seat because there wasn’t any toilet paper, and your thighs were too sore to squat.

3. Visits to random-ass places just to get out of the car

E.g.: Webb’s 2-3-1 BBQ on route 231 in Alabama (excellent). The Lion’s Den Adult Superstore in Louisiana (not excellent).

4. A reality check on the kinds of people that live in America

You’ll meet the Harvard-grad business kid at his bachelor party, trying to touch the dancers at a Bourbon Street strip club. The happy-go-lucky carpenter making ends meet in a rural Florida trailer, living off of tuna-fish sandwiches. You’ll get to decide who’s the genius and who’s the whack-job.

5. ‘Must-see’ places that are almost always a letdown

You’ll quickly realize that Bourbon Street smells like the vomit of a thousand fraternity pledges. And holes like Snake & Jakes and the Oak Street Cafe are the real reasons you came to New Orleans.

6. ‘Scenic’ routes that are anything but scenic

Meandering down the ‘coastal route’ through Florida’s panhandle sounds lovely when you’re not doing it. But when you’re stuck at your 27th stoplight in Panama City, and you just watched some drunk kid in neon dump it on a scooter in a henna tattoo parking lot, you’ll hate yourself and all of American-kind.

7. An improvement of your ability to fall asleep anywhere

On a balled up egg-carton mattress in someone’s closet in New Orleans. On top of a polyester bedspread in a hotel advertising “colored TV.” In a Walmart parking lot, curled around the spare tire in the bed of your truck.

8. Having to explain yourself

People will want to know exactly what you’re doing and why you didn’t just take one of those airplane things. Your waitress in that Austin 24hr diner. The bartender in that Alabama dive. The cop accusing you of drug-running in rural Mississippi.

9. Unexpected camaraderie from other truck drivers (if you drive a truck)

When you need to switch lanes in a traffic jam on Route 65, that Prius from Oregon is not going to let you in. It’ll be the GMC with an Alabama license plate and an NRA decal.

10. Billboards

Especially in that bossy, presumptive, omniscient POV: “Pregnant? Let God’s hand help.” “God is like Allstate, you’re in good hands.” “Go to church or the devil will get you.”

11. Singalongs to terrible country music

There’ll be some farmers’ daughters, some chainsaws, and a whole lot of sexual innuendos dealing with manually operated, four-wheel-drive trucks.

12. Catching yourself being a tourist

If you freak out and cry at the sight of a dolphin’s dorsal fin in Apalachicola. If you drop 10 bucks to tour the Hank Williams ‘museum’ in Montgomery. If you impulse buy a cowgirl hat in Tennessee. It’s going to be okay. Your pride will come back.

13. A regrettable tendency towards snacking

When you’re squishing a purple spice drop between two saltine crackers to make your version of a savory and slightly sweet sandwich, you’ll wonder, “Am I pregnant?”

14. Working hard to save a buck

After driving to seven different hotels on the same strip just so you can compare prices, you’ll realize that you’re just as cheap as your last boyfriend, and you only saved $1.86.

15.Getting to know your travel partner overly well

Their hopes: “When we get home I’m going to quit smoking and buy six more dogs.”

Their dreams: “You were there, but you were kind of just floating in an inner tube with a bitchy look on your face…and there was a catfish? And your cousin was there, but he wasn’t your cousin…”

Their desires: “I wish you’d take your top off while driving.”

16. A desperate need to ‘be on vacation’

No matter your reason for road tripping — delivering a vehicle, moving, a hatred of airport food — at some point you’ll feel tired of groveling and this desperate need to just Airbnb that shit for a few nights. To get a place. A shower. To get some dinner and get drunk.

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