Planning a romantic road trip? Here are some worthwhile essentials.Travel, by nature, is stressful. Before astronauts are shot into space, they endure stress tests so insane they could have only been developed by former Nazi scientists. Sadly, the two of you don’t have a crack team of lab-coated sadists to help you prepare for team travel. So on every road trip you strap yourselves into a steel capsule, pack it with provisions, and blast off down the open road in what is essentially a four-wheeled pressure cooker.
Of course, technology helps keep the shuttle on course, and can ward off your desire to drive into the nearest and deadliest highway guardrail ten minutes after takeoff: iPods, portable DVD players, cell phones, and satellite radio all help pass the time. But the open road should take you out of your element, not deeper into it. Instead of slapping on a headset, why not use this time in close quarters to reconnect—and rediscover what brought you together in the first place?
When packing, just remember that while road flares, a can of Fix-a-Flat, and a jug of antifreeze could get you a merit badge—and save your ass from calling AAA—it’s the little extras that will keep the two of you from breaking down:
1. GAS STATION SUNGLASSES FOR TWO
Along the American highways, classic eyewear styles never die. Buy two pairs of the sweetest, cheesiest sunglasses on the rack (aviators are a safe bet), and wear them with pride. It shows that you guys are a team—and the mirrored lenses will deflect all those jealous stares.
2. AM RADIO
You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to AM radio at 3 a.m. on a piece of road like, say, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge in southern Louisiana. Out in the swamps of Creole country, or on any winding road to perdition, the combination of tent-revival evangelism, good-time jazz, and homespun wisdom makes endless conversation fodder.
3. BEEF JERKY
High in protein, low in fat. Doesn’t take up much room. Gives your jaw something to do instead of answering difficult questions like, “Are you ever going to propose?” All hail jerky!
Beware of ones with too many pictures—she’ll keep trying to show you shots of the fluctuating weight, suffocating mediocrity, and huge head that is Lindsay Lohan while you’re fantasizing about shooting the gap on the fourth turn at Daytona to edge out Jimmie Johnson. But something with choice read-aloud bits—even if, especially if—it’s not something you would ordinarily pick up, can be entertaining and enlightening.
5. UP-TO-DATE, DETAILED MAPS
Nothing can kill the mood of a successful road trip like being hopelessly lost. She’d think you’re an idiot, and you’d know she was right.
6. TILT STEERING WHEEL, AND CRUISE CONTROL
We have to mention it: The first allows for easy extraction of her head from your lap when you’re being pulled over for erratic driving. The second allows you to thank her for charming the officer out of giving you a ticket. Brace the wheel with your knee to free up your right hand, then move into the slow lane, to prevent truckers and other unwanted audience members from peering over her shoulder.
7. NON-SCRATCHY BLANKET
Eschew the U.S. highway system from time to time in favor of a back road that roams off into the countryside. You’re likely to turn up the perfect opportunity to take a break, stretch your legs, and have a shag. Though not all fields are soft like a Robert Frost poem—and, after hours of driving, the hood is hot—a blanket saves the day.
8. TOILET PAPER
So simple, yet so heroic. Pull a roll out of your bag and observe the expression on her face.
9. A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE
At the end of your trip, you deserve to celebrate in grand style … and you might need a way to reopen conversation channels, if—by chance, and despite all best efforts—you aren’t speaking when you arrive.