2011 Mercedes-Benz R-ClassEnlarge Photo
I have traveled many a mile, kilometer, quadrant, state and province in my time. Sometimes behind the wheel, sometimes as a driver or as a passenger (willing and unwilling), and to places mundane and not so mundane, in vehicles of various shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of comfort.
But when it comes to a road trip, where you intend to be on the road for a while, for stretches of highway that will challenge your bladder containment capabilities, that will make you scream from intense and mind-numbing boredom, you need to take certain things with you, to accompany you, otherwise there could be some anger, bitter recrimination, and worse, passing of noxious fumes through multiple orifices. Not a good thing in winter with the windows rolled up.
So I began to ponder and pontificate, to ruminate (no cud) and reflect, and I came up with the following list of things things you must pack to avoid a fight-filled, knock-down, drag-out, last-human-standing road trip. And maintain your sanity.
A rubber mallet. Why this brilliant implement? How many times has someone you have been riding with make an intensely stupid suggestion that demonstrates he or she is a mental defective with a driver's license. Lots, I bet. So this tool allows you to knock some sense into their skull, but not really leave a big bruise or cut the skin. Especially if repeated beatings are necessary. Or if the aforementioned moron tries to steal your iPod or whatever, the mallet is great for crushing fingers. If you are travelling with children, and they need to be "pacified" and you don't have a mickey of whiskey, get the Fisher-Price baby mallet, it's child-friendly and the right size for scaring the "Are we there yet?" question out of junior.
A Swiss army knife. No, it's not for defending against the threat of mallet attacks, it's when you stop somewhere and someone on the trip brought stupid healthy food with them that has to be cut or peeled. (Why can't they just bring greasy, life shortening chips or chocolate?) Sure, they are looking after their weight, their cholesterol too, so they bring the food no one wants, but you have to eat because you’re in the middle of nowhere and the next Taco Bell was 150 miles away and you're starving. You can also use the knife to stab that health conscious person as a warning for future road trips.
Five hundred napkins. How many times have you taken some kind of food with you that the automotive gods, safety experts and car designers would consider sheer idiocy if you took it within the vicinity of a car. I know I have. Stuff that has leaky sauce and drippy bits and chunks that fall off. Or worse, stuff for the kids that is loaded with sugar and goop and you know will splatter everywhere and attract a hoard of ants after you park the car, and will leave a stain that paleontologists will be talking about 3,000 years from now. But don't just take five napkins from the Dunkin Donuts, take 500 and keep them in your glove compartment. Also good for soaking up blood. Don't ask. Audi had a very funny yet condescending ad from the "Green Police" (Google it, it's good) about using fewer napkins as a green initiative that made me laugh but then made me angry because Audi think they are better than me, so I took more napkins. It may decimate a forest or two, but I have to be practical, I have kids.
Multiple iPods. Why multiple? Since when do musical tastes ever coalesce and coexist in peace for anything longer than a trip to the supermarket. The answer is never. You know at least one of your friends or family members listens to some kind of loud, horrible music that should get you life in the electric chair in some society, or music that gives cats cramps and is a form of torture according to the Geneva Convention. Multiple iPods solves that problem because everyone can be plugged in (with an iPod touch, or just music) and they shut the heck up! For as long as the battery charge holds out. Which reminds me, get multiple in-car chargers too.