Road trips are the crème de la crème of friend holidays.
You've seen Easy Rider a gazillion times. You've read enough Kerouac. You've spent hours browsing through Tumblr pictures of the open road, you're ready to go!
But are you?
Once you've sorted the insurance, checked out all the different countries' driving laws and planned your route you may think your all set.
However, there are many things you will only realise you've forgotten once you've hit the road.
However, here at Cooler, we've had our share of road trip mishaps. So wer'e to pass on our best tips on how to have the best trip ever and avoid getting locked out of your car in the middle of a creepy Dutch village (true story...unfortunately)
Here are our eight best tips for surviving your first road trip...
Don't make your schedule too rigid
But don't make it too loose.
Give yourself a destination, along with en route stops and give yourself a date to arrive, but don't stress over it too much.
When you're on the road for a long time detours happen, sometimes because things go wrong, sometimes because things go right and you find yourself on an unexpected adventure for a couple of days.
Keep on track but don't get bogged down in a plan you have to stick to. You're on a road trip, it's the time to be spontaneous!
Pre-plan the music
Nothing will kill road trip good vibes quicker than a music taste mismatch.
While you might be looking forward to blaring Broken Bells down open roads, your fellow passenger may have already loaded up their iPod with an Taylor Swift and Party in the USA...on repeat.
There are two ways to avoid this awkward situation.
1) Share and be nice - Yes, you might feel like you'd rather walk than spend two hours listening to Taylor warbling, but I'm sure they feel the same way about your abstract hip-hop mix. Suck it up and take turns.
2) Plan a playlist - Getting together to make your travel mix tapes in advance might seem a little over board, but we promise that three days in when you're all still friends and singing along in the back, you'll thank us.
Make sure you're taking all the essentials (see no.8) but don't pack anything unnecessary.
While you may think you definitely need those six books before you leave, along with the three pairs of shoes and emergency outfit (incase you stumble onto something fancy to go to), YOU DON'T.
It's never clearer that you've over-packed than in a hot car when there's so much stuff around that you can't the person opposite.
Don't know what you need to pack? Boo, we got you, it's all at the end of this article.
Take a mechanic
Ok, fair enough, we realise not everyone knows a mechanic and we're not suggest we all start kidnapping anyone at garages.
What we're really saying is that you should take your best boy scout senses and always be prepared.
During road trips, cars breakdown, gas runs out, people get ill. Make sure there's at least one of you that knows the way around an engine and always have a worst case scenario plan, in case stuff gets messy.
We're not trying to ruin the fun, but if you plan properly we just won't worry so much about you crazy kids while you're out there.
Keep in contact
One of the best ways to make sure a road trip is stress-free is to make sure you stay in contact with the outside world at regular intervals about your progress.
By not disappearing off the map completely, you ensure that if you ever do breakdown in the middle of nowhere with no phone, someone will have some idea where to look for you and you won't all disappear, 80's slasher movie style.
On that note however, portable phone chargers are a godsend. Pack some - with lots of spare batteries.
In the passenger seat? Don't go to sleep
People will go to sleep on a road trip, it's inevitable.
But the big rule in road trips is if you're going to sleep, you get out of the passenger seat and get your ass in the back.
The passenger seat is in charge of music, navigation, Eye Spy and keeping the driver alive. Remember that.
Just as you take turns switching drivers, do the same with shotgun for a happy car!
Take a spare key
It seems obvious doesn't it? Certain people in the Cooler office however learned this rule the hard way.
Give the spare key to the most responsible in the group to keep on them for the trip.
Also make sure you never leave the spare key in the locked car... Jus' saying.
Take everything on our checklist!
□ Flashlight and extra batteries
□ Rope or duct tape
□ Jumper cables
□ Spare tire
□ Spare keys
□ Emergency phone numbers
□ Glasses or contact lenses
□ Toothbrush and toothpaste
□ Comfortable clothing
□ Comfortable shoes
□ Passport (if necessary)
□ Freezer packs to keep food cold
□ Plenty of water
□ Energy bars/trail mix
□ Caffeinated beverages or energy drinks
□ Garbage bags
□ Playing cards
□ Outdoor toys (e.g. frisbee or soccer ball)
□ Camera/journal to record memories
□ Insect repellant
□ First aid kit
□ Disinfectant wipes
□ Paper maps or atlas
□ GPS unit/compass
□ Smartphone with GPS capability
□ Preprinted directions for your route