Can your relationship survive a road trip?

7 minutes

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When the winter sun’s beaming down and the open road beckons, there’s no better way to spend a weekend than heading out on a road trip. 

And what better way to spend it than with your other half? You make a great team, you’re in a rock-solid relationship and you get each other. What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s be honest, quite a bit. Aside from the incredible Insta snaps on the beachfront and the hidden gems you’ll find along the way, going on a road trip as a couple isn’t as easy as it may sound.

You’ll spend hours confined in close quarters, making those all-important decisions on music, snacks and car games. Get it right, and you’ll know you’re on the same wavelength. Get it wrong? Then buckle up for hours of tension. And that’s before we even get started on reading maps and navigation.

At Flow, we want our customers to enjoy only the smoothest of road trips together – and that means emotional journeys too. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy guide to getting your road trip right from the moment you fasten your seatbelts.

Firstly, what constitutes a road trip?

Let’s get this cleared up first – a road trip isn’t so much about a distance as a feeling. The UK is limited by its size, and even the 15 hours it would take you to drive from Land’s End to John O’Groats is small fry by American standards.

Road trips are more about a journey being special. It’s a route you’ve never taken before, a chance to get away from your hometown. It could be three hours or three months long. It could be Chicago to Salt Lake City, or Birmingham to Kettering.

If you’re both getting that unmistakable road trip vibe, it doesn’t matter where you’re driving to or from – just roll with it and enjoy the sights you’ll see along the way.

Picking the right music

Finding the right music for your journey is almost as important as the trip itself.  Music can create the perfect mood for essential car activities like chatting, game-playing or snacking. It can also provide the perfect complement for sunsets, panoramas or traffic jams. Some music can even relieve stress. Make no mistake – road trips and music go hand-in-hand.

But getting it wrong, or disagreeing on what the next song should be, can quickly derail the road trip vibe. So how do you find the right tunes? Well, there are no hard and fast rules – simply pick songs you both like and make sure there’s plenty of them. A mix of singalong classics and poignant instrumentals will provide the breadth of emotion your road trip needs. And planning ahead can go a long way to securing harmony on the road, so be sure to agree your playlist long before it could become a bone of contention.

But, remember to download playlists in advance.

Passengers, you’re in charge of switching between songs, albums and playlists. And if the driver hits a stressful or confusing point of the journey, it’s only right to turn down the tunes. After all, you want to stay on the right track. Literally.

A word on genres, too. The rousing choruses, heartfelt lyrics and killer riffs of traditional 70s and 80s rock classics have their place in any road trip playlist. But don’t be strong-armed by the road trip elders into a single-minded soundtrack – choose genres, songs and artists that make you happy, even if they’re not ‘classics.’ Every couple has a special song or two that reminds them of when they first met or other magic moments together. Make sure you find a place for these on your playlist – it could help smooth any troubled waters along the way. Or what's better, we've created some playlists for you!

Nail down your snack choices


If one thing is likely to have you at each other’s throats on your road trip it’s hunger. Not planning ahead when it comes to food and drink can lead to road trip disaster. While some motorway service stations are a snacker’s dream, others are a grazing nightmare, so make sure you’re well stocked before setting off and keep the hunger at bay. Don’t make me hangry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.

In terms of car-dining etiquette, remember you’re in close quarters. So keep things sharable, non-smelly and non-messy – you don’t want to have to pull over to scoop the contents of an open sandwich off the seats. Crisps, sweets, grapes and other bite-size items are car-ready classics for a reason.

Passengers, prepare for some more non-negotiable responsibilities here – you’re going to be in charge of passing, holding and unpackaging items along the way.

When you’re planning your snacks and stop-offs, be considerate of dietary requirements and choices. Make sure there’s something for everyone. It’s a matter of taste!

Windows or air con?


Road trips and sunny days often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, that can also mean dealing with some intense heat – and we don’t mean those extra spicy crisps you picked up at the last service station. On hot days, cars are like greenhouses. But how you choose to cool your vehicle can split opinion. For some people, it’s as simple as cracking a window and letting the air do the rest. For others, noise and pollution can be off-putting. The alternative is to crank up the air con, but some drivers aren’t keen because of its impact on fuel consumption.

Why not choose two hours of A/C, two hours of windows down. You could also consider keeping the A/C off on motorways, while rolling the windows up for driving through city centres and in other areas where the pollution’s higher.

Quiet, please


Driving can be tiring and stressful, so it’s important to have some quiet time to avoid snapping at each other. Embrace this and use it as an opportunity to take in your surroundings, listen to a podcast or recharge your conversational batteries. It’s good to leave some chat in the tank.

Is sleeping allowed?


For passengers yes, for drivers obviously no. So, it’s important to share the driving where possible and make sure you’re both getting enough rest.

And if you’re a passenger, be considerate. Don’t hitch a ride and spend the whole time snoozing. Choose an opportune quiet time to catch some shut eye while the driver is engrossed in a podcast.

Reading too much into it


If your relationship can handle the traffic jams, navigational mishaps and fiercely contended customs of a road trip, then you might be onto a winner.

But remember – even the most established relationships can buckle under the unpredictability of the road. If your journey doesn’t go to plan, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Maybe just rethink that plan to drive across Europe together.

Car insurance from Flow gives you the great value, hassle-free cover you need to get on the open road quickly.