Road trip season is here and we’re looking forward to some long drives and adventures. Before there is any chance of you being invited on the Timeoutmobile, however, you need to know the basics. Foremost among these is the importance of a designated navigator. Somebody needs to take charge of route planning and it shouldn’t necessarily be the driver. They have enough on already. So, whether it is a crumpled map, a seemingly sarcastic GPS or just a vague sense of direction and a reliance on road signs, you should have a decent idea of where you’re going before setting off. And a person to blame when you get lost.
Little boxes of breath mints, curious round tins with dusty boiled sweets nobody remembers buying and family-size bags of crisps. Any journey of greater than an hour is going to need supplies, so stock up at the petrol station on sharing goodies. Avoid stinky foods. Because nobody wants to drive all the way to Fujairah in a cramped metal box that smells like durian.
Great road trips are not about the destination. Nor are they about the journey. They’re about making an epic playlist of great driving tunes, cranking up the volume and blasting out music as you go. Air drumming, roof thumping and carefree, top-of-your-voice anthem singing are all to be encouraged. As are rock ’n’ roll hits that would make the 1980s blush.
One Time Outer claims to have played a single game of I Spy for the entirety of an 800-mile drive across France as a child. Scenery, conversation and road trip adrenaline will only take you so far. Car games are a necessity. Spoiler alert – if somebody spies something beginning with “S”, it is almost certainly sand.
Trips are so much better if you can share them with friends. Especially when you can escape them and go and sit in another car for a while when their incessant snacking, terrible music and dodgy navigation become too much. The best road trips require at least three cars and a convoy is a serious statement of intent about the weekend of fabulousness you have planned.
5 Roof down
If you have the opportunity to get a convertible to drive across the UAE and don’t take the roof down, we can never be friends. Sure, the wind will invite your hair to a party it never wanted to attend, the sun will bake your skin, and it can be slightly terrifying passing trucks with no barrier between your skull and their bulk. But you’re living every road trip fantasy you’ve had since you were 13 years old. So slap on the sun cream, tie down your hat and try to ignore the dismissive looks from other road users in their lovely, air-conditioned cocoons.
It shouldn’t need explaining, but basically even if you usually prefer your natural musk, not everyone will. No spray, no way.
3 Regular stops
Did somebody say toilet break? There is something that comes across even the most genial of friends when they get behind the wheel of a car that turns them into sticklers for efficiency. The same person who you’ve watched play four straight hours of Candy Crush on their phone will suddenly be counting every second spent in traffic. They will refuse to stop for anything less than a medical emergency and will pass at least three valid photo opportunities just so they can break their record journey time.
2 Camel spotting
Seeing a camel by the side of the road NEVER gets boring. Slow down, take pictures, give them a wave.
Are we nearly there yet? Are we nearly there yet? Are we nearly there yet? It is hard to believe a simple question can be the fuse that sets off the most spectacular family arguments, but repetition of these simple words combined with constant bickering from the back is enough to make you question the sanity behind even the most trouble-free trips. Every other point on the list becomes all the more important with kids in the car. If possible, see if you can trade them for a friendly dog for the weekend.