First rule of road trips: take more of them

The rush of wind, a great soundtrack, suspense, love and quirky character … it’s not the plot of a new Tom Cruise flick, but the true-life drama of four women on a road trip. Roll intro …

A group of friends and I began going on these road trips several years back. It was a sunny springtime week and instead of oiling up and competing for space on a beach in Mexico or some other such raucous destination, we decided to stir up a little mischief of our own.

The game plan: check out a friend’s band that was playing a couple of time zones away.

With two of these trips already under my friends’ collective fan belts, they knew what to expect. Better yet, they knew what to pack. Being the rookie of the bunch, I brought along only what I thought I absolutely needed: a credit card and a change of clothes. They had what I brought, plus munchies, pillows and blankets. About seven hours into it, I realized that these were actually essential and not optional items.

Trying to sleep in the back of a moving midsize rental car with my mouth agape, my jacket-turned-blanket pulled up to my cheeks and my head bouncing around like a bobble-head Chihuahua dog was, no doubt, a source of amusement to other weary travelers on the road.

A sore neck and a serious need for Rolaids was the least of our worries when the map we downloaded from the Internet didn’t factor in major construction. Our planned 17-hour jaunt took 21 hours (22 if you count the hour we lost stocking up on some essentials — you know, Cheetos, Red Bull, Twizzlers and M&Ms).

But now that we’ve logged as many miles as a long-haul trucker, we have this road-trip thing down to a science: Each trip must consist of a minimum of four people, all of whom must have valid drivers’ licenses. Two people sleep and two people stay awake — the driver and her co-pilot — whose role is very clearly defined as such: read the map, watch for exit signs, hold the bag of chips and open the driver’s can/bottle of soda.

Trust me, it’s a bonding experience that can only be created by being sardined in a car with three or more people for hours on end.

They’ll laugh at you when you stumble into an all-night gas station with pillow creases on your face, race for the restroom and then hammer back another Red Bull and a couple of crusty doughnuts, even though you’re not hungry.

They’ll see you drool, snore, talk in your sleep, sing off key, admit to too many embarrassing escapades during endless rounds of Truth (everyone will be sworn to secrecy) and, at some point, someone will beg to pull over because that last doughnut just doesn’t want to go along for the ride.

We’re gearing up for another road trip soon: two shows, two cities, two days, six drivers. It’s a different band, a different destination and a different — and much larger– rental vehicle.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is the fun of getting behind the wheel and hitting the road with some entertaining characters.

It’s kind of interesting, really, how your perspective changes from the window of a moving car. We began going on these road trips simply to see concerts. Being crammed in a car with a other people was just a means to an end.

Now, when we return home, it’s the trip itself we reminisce about more than the show. After all, getting there — and back — is more than half the fun.

Roll the credits.

Among her numerous accomplishments, Courtney Hansen is the author of her own book entitled the “Garage Girl’s Guide,” the host of Spike TV’s “PowerBlock,” the former host of TLC’s “Overhaulin'”and a writer with Wheelbase Communications. You can e-mail her by logging on to www.wheelbase.ws/mailbag.html.

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