Young women driving in car

5 Rules For Riding Shotgun

Being the driver on a lengthy road trip is a big responsibility, but being a good passenger is just as important. Here are some things to keep in mind next time you’re riding in the front seat.

1. Leave The AC Alone

Maybe the driver keeps the car a little too cool for your liking—or maybe it’s too hot. You’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Fiddling with the car’s AC is distracting for the driver and strictly off-limits when you’re a passenger. You can, however, close or redirect the vents closest to you. If you’re prone to feeling chilled, be sure to bring along a sweater or jacket extra layers of clothing or a blanket with you. If you tend to overheat easily, wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing.

2. Let The Driver Pick The Tunes

Next time you’re tempted to change the radio station or turn off the driver’s playlist, remember—you’re getting a free ride! Never turn off the driver’s choice of music, no matter how much you dislike it. But if you find the volume too loud—or too low—it is acceptable to politely ask the driver if you can turn it down (or up), to avoid having them take their eyes off the road. If your musical tastes differ, think of the trip as a chance to expand your musical horizons and remind yourself, the trip won’t last forever. Plus, be ready with some good conversation starters when you get tired of listening to tunes.

3. Stay Awake

Unless you’re under the weather or exceptionally exhausted, it’s considered bad form to fall asleep as a passenger. Your job is to keep the driver company and offer assistance when necessary. And if you’re on the road late at night, it’s even more important to stay awake and talk to the driver and keep an eye out for rest stops when needed —neither of you should be the least bit drowsy. If you have trouble staying awake in the car, it might be a good idea to bring some caffeinated beverages along with you for the ride.

armrest in the luxury passenger car, detail in the interior4. Don’t Hog The Armrest

We’ve all been on an airplane where the person sitting next to us is hogging the armrest. Well, guess what? It’s just as annoying when it happens in a car. If you’re in a vehicle that has an armrest between the driver and passenger, let the driver have it—it’s the polite thing to do. Similarly, don’t hog the center cup holders. It’s acceptable to put one of your bottles of water there—but no more than one!

5. Be Ready To Help

If your driver gets lost or the GPS is on the fritz, be prepared to help out at a moment’s notice. This means watching for exit ramps and street signs, and having your smartphone ready so you can find the best route to your destination. Be sure your phone has a full charge before the start of your trip, since older cars won’t have USB ports you can use. And try to familiarize yourself with the driver’s planned route before you depart—you never know when that knowledge will come in handy.


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Taking a road trip? Here’s what to pack for the journey.

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  1. DENISE SHORE says,

    Thanks for putting these rules into print. I’m going to copy this and share with anyone who even hints at riding with me. I’ve had horrible experiences and handing this list to former riders would’ve nipped that last trip from Hell in the bud.

  2. Biplab Poddar says,

    Thanks for sharing this. Your tips are very helpful. I am a travel freak and travel a lot. Next year Alaska is on my card.Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness., and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Next year I definitely want to explore Albany.
    People often have a theme that they base their worldly travels on, but how about a mental mantra for your travel? Out of a cheerleading event that consisted of our family shouting supportive words at our daughter who was attempting to kill a rather monstrous spider that the rest of us were too chicken to get close to, came this great quote, “If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!”

    This quote came back to haunt me when on vacation in Seattle. I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids on the Seattle Great Wheel, the ferris wheel overlooking the ocean, but as we approached it, I realized how high it went and immediately panicked! Just as I had decided to put the kids on it on their own, my daughter says, “Come on dad…If you don’t think, and you just do….then it’s done!” What could I do at that point?! She was telling me to stop thinking and creating more fear about the situation and just get on the thing!
    “If you don’t think, and you just do, then it’s done!” We all now keep this quote in our back pocket, ready to whip out at any time to push one of us forward into an adventure we know they won’t regret. No hesitations, don’t allow any time for fear to set in, and be prepared for your kids to turn your life advice back on you

  3. Bill says,

    The number of fatalities on the highways is a national disgrace, so are what I have seen of the thoughtless driving habits of way too many drivers. YOU as a driver owe it to everyone else on the road to be focused on the road when you are driving! If you are unable to do that, you have no business driving a car!

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