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Road trips are one of the most essential experiences in a person’s life. Young or old, there is something about packing up your belongings, grabbing your closest friends and making a spontaneous get-away that feels so good. The humanistic need to explore is deeply rooted within ourselves; the thirst to see new horizons and spending the night under the stars is what some of us live for. I mean, who doesn’t love that feeling of waking up somewhere you’ve never been before yet feeling more at home than you ever have in your life? For my fellow vagabonds, these guidelines are more like second nature. Any newbies that might be reading, perk up and pay attention.

These are 10 essentials to keep in mind for the best roadtrippin’ experience.

1. The perfect playlist. The secret to curating awesome playlists is to keep an open mind. You might think your taste in music is the best in the world, but it’s common courtesy to switch up genres according to who’s in the car. Not everyone wants to head bang for __ number of hours they’ve signed up for on the ride. Balance out your genres, hit everyone’s favorite songs and you’ll have the perfect soundtrack.

2. Keep every personality happy. Sustaining a happy, mellow atmosphere during a road trip can be difficult, but is the most crucial! No one likes to travel in a bad mood. Let’s say your backseat neighborino is a little on the irritable side and won’t stop complaining about your song choices, even though you SPECIFICALLY threw on that Coldplay song she likes so much.This is where politely handing over a pair of earbuds becomes the best move you could’ve made. Or, let’s say someone just has to have the A/C blasting, even though the person behind them is freezing half to death. The good ole use of compromise can make a cracked window happen instead. Make sure that you help carry the flow of conversation, and are keeping the mood light when tensions rise.

3. State your position: Driver, the Map, the DJ (see #1), or the One who Stays Awake While Everyone Rotates. These are all self-explanatory, and yes you can switch. It should go without saying, but if you’re the driver, you should be out-fucking-standing at it. No crazy moves, or overly aggressive driving. You might be ‘fooling around but know what you’re doing’, but the same doesn’t go for everyone else on the road.

Before the wonders of GPS, it was a lot more of a ‘job’ to follow the map. Now all it requires is someone to keep their phone charged. This should probably fall on the person who also is in charge of staying up. Since I don’t know how to drive (yes, sad but true) I’m almost always the One who Stays Awake. I don’t mind it, and I feel like it’s one of the best roles in the car. No one wants to be the last one left standing, and it’s always so much easier when you’ve got someone designated to stay up and be weird with.

4. Games on the road. Of course the license plate and cloud shape games are king, but when that gets a little stale you can pull out a couple other gems. One of my favorite things to do is make up stories about the people who happen to be driving next to me. Is that a caravan of black market scientists en route to their next sideshow experiment? The world may never know, but that won’t stop us from guessing. Oh, and there’s always Never Have I Ever…

5. Bringing electronics: Everyone wants to bring their Kindles, laptops, etc, but the purpose of traveling is to kind of take yourself out of the at-home routine you’ve been accustomed to. It’s cool to play Yahtzee on your iPad but don’t forget about the joys of direct and real conversation, especially during a journey on the road. Prep yourselves with joke books, maybe a Guinness Book of World Records and other random picks, and you’d be surprised at where it takes you. And of course, podcasts are exempt. They’re pretty rad.

6. Map out some pit stops. I’m not talking bathroom or gas breaks; no, this is bigger than all that. If you’re driving anywhere close to where you’ve  – always – dreamed of being, there are absolutely no excuses to not pull over. The beauty of roadtrippin’ is not having a care in the world. If you can make time for it, do it.

7. Bring munchies! Instead of pulling over every half hour when someone gets hungry, load up on quick fixes so you can reduce your travel time. Besides, you can finally try that move where you chunk a Snickers bar into someone’s face when they get snippy towards you. Remember to keep the salt content of your munchies to a minimum as well! (Salt + Thirsty = Bathroom breaks galore)

8. Pack a survival kit. You can never be too prepared, really. If everyone brings a few essentials you’ll be good to go. Aim for gathering supplies that will aid in at least two scenarios: side adventures and road danger. This includes rope, tents (even if you weren’t planning on camping), cooking utensils, flare guns, blankets, toilet paper… It’s usually the smallest things that wind up being the most important.

9. Stay excited. Keeping your sanity while being in a car for days on end can be one of the hardest things of all. Tensions might be at an all time high, you’ve probably had more than what you’d call a ‘little car trouble’ and the thought of your bed seems farther away than it ever has before. Keep Calm and Journey On! Like I mentioned before, this is one of those experiences in life that some may never have the opportunity, yet will dream about forever.

Indulge yourself in the simple pleasures life has to offer, and remain endlessly excited about what your trip has in store for you.

10. Calling shotgun doesn’t count unless you can ACTUALLY see the car. Don’t be that guy, please.

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