So you've decided to take a road trip with your friends; What a great idea! Time to pack all of your bare essentials into one tiny backpack, hit the grocery store for the junkiest junk food you can find, and snuggle into the back seat with your PJ's, cause you've got a looooooong ride ahead of you. Oh, and don't forget your sunglasses: you want to be as classy as you can in those sleeping-with-your-mouth-open pictures. But now the question is, what to do for the next ump-teen hours? Well, I'm going to guess that at some point, you're gonna turn the radio on. You might just go insane if you don't. But then, what to listen to? So many decisions! No worries, it's for people just like you that I've concocted this Road Trip Radio Breakdown. This list of listening suggestions is sure to keep your brain from atrophying and keep everyone in the car having a good time.
10% Weather and Traffic
Woohoo! We're starting this list off right, with something that's exceptionally…boring. I know, I know, no one actually wants to listen to traffic and weather, but let me tell you: I was on a trip coming home from Maine to Ohio last weekend, where I had the pleasure of meeting my now-best-friend Hurricane Irene. Traffic coming through New York was awful, and I have no doubt that that good ol' AM traffic station saved us hours of waiting in bumper-to-bumper lines. For most trips, you'll probably be fine even without keeping up on the weather, but this is just kind of a "first-aid" kit for getting stuck in traffic.
10% Talk Radio
Talk radio: sometimes it's awesome, most of the time it's just awesomely bad. Talk radio is great for breaking the monotony of the same 5 pop songs that you're going to hear over and over and over and over and over (those are still to come later in the list!). Whether you're catching up on world events with NPR or gossiping about what star dumped who and adopted a baby from where, talk radio is somewhat infectious; it gets people in the car talking too. When a glance in the rearview shows a bunch of listless faces staring out the window and drool running down their shirts, it might be time for a conversation starter. There's only so much you can talk about your own lives, so why not talk about someone else's, right? Talk radio can sometimes spark new life into the trip, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.
20% Music on your iPod that YOU like
After a few hours of driving, you'll probably realize that there's one song that you're just DYING to hear. Maybe it's been stuck in your head for a while, or maybe something in the conversation made it pop into your head. Or maybe you want to set the mood right to tell the pretty girl in the passenger seat that you have the hots for her, who knows. But in any case, you'll want to come prepared with a hefty amount of your own music on an iPod (or music player of your choice) so you can guide the musical mood when necessary. You can only take so much of hearing nothing on the radio for miles before you need to rejuvenate with something you know you can jam to. Plus, I've found that you can learn a lot about your car mates and spark a lot of good conversations by showing them your music and vice versa. And don't forget the iPod car charger!
15% Music on your iPod that EVERYONE likes
This is where road trip memories are made. When it comes down to it, everyone misses the Backstreet Boys, Hanson, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, and all the other classic super groups and one-hit wonders of our younger years (well, those are from my younger years, anyway). There's nothing better than blazing down the interstate, shades on, windows down, screaming the lyrics to everyone's favorite songs. Have you ever noticed that this is the part of the road trip that they always show in commercials? It's because this is pretty much the experience that everyone's looking for when they set out on a voyage. So make sure you bring a nice stock of these (in)famous songs on your music player. And I might also suggest asking your friends for ideas in this category before you pack up and go. Pulling out that Diamond in the Rough that gets everyone in the car going, "Whaaat!? No way, I remember this!" is an awesome feeling.
5% Classical Music on the Radio
A little dash of Classical is a good way to stimulate the senses and make everyone feel a little more intellectual after all those backseat poke- and pillow-fights. Maybe you could even do some Sudoku or a crossword to really get the noggin' joggin'. You'll have to watch the throttle (haha, road trip pun) on the Classical, though, as too much of it might get a little boring unless you're a real Baroque junkie.
40% Everyone's Favorite: Radio Pop Music
This one's nice and easy, no preparation at all. Every few hours, when the last station gets fuzzy, pound the Seek button like it's your job until you hear another pop song. It's true that not everyone in your car will love pop music, but chances are they've at least heard the songs and can hum along or something. Remember: these are the songs that will one day make it into the "everyone likes" category above, so this category ranks pretty high. Oh yeah, and like I mentioned above, these songs are going to get insanely repetitive. If you're lucky, the DJ will be nice every now and again and throw in an oldie-but-a-goodie to spice things up. If you think about it, it's kind of like winning the lottery! The real trick to Road Trip Music Magic will be reading the people in your car to see when it's time to switch between pop monotony and the other categories listed here, in order to keep things lively and exciting--and more importantly, to keep you awake.
That wraps up my Road Trip Radio Breakdown. You like? You hate? You haz other suggestions? Let us know with a comment down below!