By on July 18, 2010

Summer is nigh upon us, and that means two things: Your electric bill is ridiculous, and it’s time for a summer road trip.

We’re going to suspend our disbelief here. We’re going to pretend that there is no reason why any and all of us cannot take off for a week or two and explore this beautiful country of ours during the most gorgeous weather of the year. We’re going to pretend that we have little to no responsibilities and that we are free, fun-loving 25-year-olds with generous benefactors who fill our gas tanks, and us with a sense of adventure that never steers us wrong.

While we’re at it, let’s pretend I get to work both the Miami and Hawaii auto shows this year. Neither of which have anything to do with road trips, but a little dreaming can’t hurt…

And with that, let’s take off on our summer road trip!

First, the rules…

Road trip rule #1: Always use a fake road trip name. Your escape from reality can not possibly begin until you truly separate yourself from reality, and that means you need to take on a different name. You should be called this name by all road trip partners, but never in the presence of anyone who could possibly check your ID. You might think you are far too old to have your ID checked, but many establishments now check literally everyone that orders a drink. This even applies to AARP members. The more ridiculous the better, so “Barky Von Schnauzer” is a perfect name for a jaunt through Nantucket.

Road trip rule #2: Always drive a convertible. I don’t care what kind of amazing super car of the future any manufacturer has at the auto show – this car could have 800 HP, shine your shoes and come with that special kind of masseuse and it still wouldn’t get as much attention as an under $40K convertible. You simply must have a convertible to have a proper summer road trip. It cuts down on both luggage and passengers (two people in the front, one in the back, a spare pair of shorts, tee shirt and bathing suit in the trunk) and just looks cool.

Road trip rule #3: Driver controls the music. Only and always. Passengers who attempt top wrest control of the stereo shall be left upon the side of the road to be picked upon by vultures/Hells Angels/long-distance truck drivers/you-on-the-return-leg.

Road trip rule #4: At least one person must know basic car maintenance. Change a tire. Check and add or change oil. Spark plug business. Etc. No cell phones or 3G Googling allowed.

Road trip rule #5: This is not some buddy movie where you’re going to get swept up in some grand adventure within 20 minutes, come up with quotably hilarious responses to drug dealers taking all your stuff and get out of all the felonies you and your three pals have committed in the 24 hours between raiding both the Bunny Ranch and Lance Burton’s bird house. You must be okay with the comfortable silence, the fact that nothing especially noteworthy will happen during this trip other than finding a new little piece of yourself and growing a bit closer to your road trip companions, for better or worse.

Cool with every rule? Good. For the next few weeks, I’m going to lead you on a few road trips you can take on a week or less in the US: the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest, the Southwest and the Northwest. We’re going to see true Americana, the kind I have been truly fortunate to experience while traveling throughout the US on the auto show circuit but probably would not have sought out on my own. We’ll see some cool stuff, I promise.

I wouldn’t trust that Jeep guy, though. He’d totally throw you under the bus for that one little joint when you and I both know he’s got copious amounts of weed hiding in the trunk inside his guitar.

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at

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36 Comments on “The Booth Babe Chronicles: Road Trip Rules. Or Road Trips Rule...”

  • avatar

    Is that a real Jeep ad? Is that what Jeep has come to? How embarrassing.

  • avatar

    Jeff Lynne is the new Jeep spokesman?

  • avatar

    Those are not the sort of cans a DJ wears. I have those Panasonic RP-HTX7 cans and they’re really nothing more than a retro styled pair of cans for use with an MP3 player. Those are not suitable for DJ use. You can’t listen to just one ear cup (beat matching) without having them round your neck. The cord is too short and the connector is the wrong size for use with any sort of mixer(suitable for personal devices not a mixer). Then the sound, well those don’t exactly have the sort of sound reproduction or noise isolation one would want from a pair of DJ cans.

    So my take is that this fellow is about as much of a DJ as he is a Jeep owner. Form before function. DJ Faux, your Jeep has arrived.

  • avatar

    “…explore this beautiful country of ours during the most gorgeous weather of the year.”

    It was 102 in Denver yesterday, with more on tap today, tomorrow, and… “The most georeous weather of the year” for a road trip starts in September and ends in June.


  • avatar
    Sam P

    Definitely not in the Pacific Northwest. We endure 9 months of nastiness during September – June for 3 months of the best summer weather in the USA.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Aaahhhh… Booth Babe? I love the fact that you’re adding a new voice to a wilderness that desperately needs one. But you can pretty much throw most everything you mentioned right out the window.

    1) Convertibles? This isn’t National Lampoon’s Vacation. You take a road trip in a convertible this time of year and you’re going to end up either looking like a Gulf fisherman (before BP) or a human lobster. I won’t even mention the fact that your back will be as wet as Liza Minelli after a bad Broadway review within two hours of the drive. Oh, and you’ll need to drink a ton of water to get from here to there unless ‘there’ happens to be North Dakota. The wind blows nice. But the sun soaks up an awful lot of your bodily liquidity when you drive a convertible.

    2) Driver controls the music? Obviously you’re not married yet.

    3) Silence? See number two! Better yet, see the guys I play poker with.

    The car maintenance I can definitely go along with. But most decisions made on road trips are group ones. I can’t take everyone out for spicy food if two of my fellow passengers hate it. The dreamer amongst my brethren can’t pick up a hitchhiker that looks like a walking meth lab. And I can’t seem to get classic rock on the radio but for some reason I can get 20+ Jesus stations when I leave civilization and head further out to Deliverance country.

    I would say the one ultimate of road trips today and yesterday is bring a lot of good food for the first couple of days… and don’t be afraid to stop at a supermarket or two along the way. Chain food restaurant is disgustingly overpriced and there seem to be fewer mom and pop’s everywhere but perhaps the Northeast USA.

    The only difference these days between ‘off the beaten path’ and the interstate these days is that the rural areas offer more fast food restaurants on a per restaurant basis.

    • 0 avatar

      Steven, get Sirius satellite radio. Best thing to ever happen for fun or forced road trips. Every kind of music (plus news, sports, and even Jesus) makes for great channel surfing, coast to coast, for hours on the road. Plus you will hear stuff that you never heard or forgotten about, which does not happen with your I-pod.

      Not bad for $13 per month.

    • 0 avatar

      You can also haggle music-only service for $4 a month… totally worth it IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      “1) Convertibles? This isn’t National Lampoon’s Vacation. You take a road trip in a convertible this time of year and you’re going to end up either looking like a Gulf fisherman (before BP) or a human lobster. I won’t even mention the fact that your back will be as wet as Liza Minelli after a bad Broadway review within two hours of the drive. Oh, and you’ll need to drink a ton of water to get from here to there unless ‘there’ happens to be North Dakota. The wind blows nice. But the sun soaks up an awful lot of your bodily liquidity when you drive a convertible.”

      I second this one. Panther platform or B/D body FTW. Ultimate road trip vehicles.

  • avatar

    On a slightly different topic but still related to road trips, does anyone publish how much gas various cars use idling per hour with the A/C and/or heat on?

    Sometimes I think it’s much cheaper to just sleep in the climate controlled car on a road trip and pop into a hostel or YMCA for a shower and change of clothes.

    • 0 avatar

      I can tell you cars use much less fuel idling than it would cost for a room. Cause that’s what I did when I road-tripped across Canada. Saves a ton of cash, no worries of your car and/or belongings getting stolen, you’ll never be turned away, and you don’t have to try to find an open motel at 1am.

    • 0 avatar

      My WRX uses .33 gal/hr idling with the heat on (per my Scangauge).

  • avatar

    I’m with BB on this one. Convertibles are great fun for road trips, and as long as you are making good forward progress the wind will keep you nice and cool throughout the summer. Plus, in most modern convertibles you can crank the A/C and have plenty of cold air in your face even while the top is down.

    The problem with a convertible is that you really can only have two people in it comfortably, unless you are driving a classic land barge droptop or a Sebring, and no one wants to drive a Sebring.

    As for music, yes, generally the driver has control, but my friends and I have worked out a veto system where we can at least compromise on this, I will keep my ELP and Maynard (Ferguson, not from Tool, although he is cool too) in the CD case if friend A agrees not to whip out his At The Drive In/Mars Volta, friend B leaves the techno at home, and friend C keeps his rap/hip-hop collection more towards the Jurassic 5 and Roots side of the spectrum rather than Soulja Boy and 50 cent. In the end we all find a happy medium in our musical tastes and are all the happier for it.

    In any trip there is plenty of time to sit and enjoy the silence. Conversation will naturally pop up from time to time, but one of the best ways to find out how comfortable you are with certain people is through silence. It’s a lot harder to be comfortable sitting next to someone not talking than it is making small talk.

    As for car maintenance, it’s never come up. Our rule was whoever had the best car at the time had the car we would take, so it was always something we didn’t have to worry about breakdowns. As for changing tires, that’s why I have roadside assistance.

    As for fake names, we’ve never done that, and I’ve never known anyone who has made up a name before a trip. Nicknames with sometimes pop up on a good roadtrip though, and if the events leading to the creation are memorable enough they might end up sticking past the trip.

    I don’t think summer has to be the best time for a road trip. One of the most memorable road trips I’ve ever been on was up to Canada in the dead of winter, which, weather wise, is about as miserable as driving through Florida in the middle of the summer. It’s the people, the journey, and the stuff that you never planned that make it fun, not the destination.

  • avatar
    George B

    Booth Babe, I reject your rules for road trips. If I wanted to deal with rules, I’d go by plane. The whole point of a road trip is the freedom to go where you want to go, adjusting your plans to experience new things that you would have missed if you followed the herd.

    A convertible can be fun when the weather is perfect, but real America is a land of extreme weather. There is a reason we’re the world leader in HVAC for both home and car. Can’t think of one long road trip where a convertible would have been a good choice for the entire trip.

    I’d love to read a Jack Baruth counterpoint article on road trips. Not so much driving to a distant race track, but driving an interesting car on fun roads.

  • avatar

    I too would go for the convertible and lots of sunblock; to journey through a landscape in a convertible is to experience it. Cocooned in any other modern gun-slit windowed vehicle with chemicals pumping through the HVAC and your friend continually babbling something about classic rock in your ear, then you might as well just rent a National Geographic video.

    As for rule #4, does that mean there has to be at least one man on the trip ? In the sample of people I know, the subgroup willing and able to change a tire can be determined solely by gender. The ‘no cell phones’ bit would probably rule out all the other women I know too.

  • avatar

    Hang onto a Class A license.

    Shower on the cheap at truck stops across the USA and use a vehicle conducive to sleeping in.

    At truck stops with tighter security or more restrictive showing a commercial license and telling security you are a driver on vacation and saving a few bucks you can get away with so much more.

    Even if between jobs or if you left the industry that commercial driver license is your pass to a certain sub-culture within the USA few four-wheelers understand.

    Hammer down.

  • avatar

    I rode a bicycle across the continent, Seattle to Boston. Definitely needed to be up on maintenance and carry a few spare parts (spokes, tire, in particular). That’s really being in the countryside. For example, in North Dakota, the average number of snakes per mile was 3. they sun themselves on the road to warm up to operating temp. They often get smushed. All of them were garter snakes except for one green snake. 35 years ago today, I was probably in the Great Plains, a few hundred miles east of Glacier.

    I’d love to do it again. In a car, though. And probably not a convertible, but definitely not one of those slit window deals.

    Barky Von Schnauzer is a perfect name for Nantucket, but if you take the car there, you’re not going to be driving much until you get back to the mainland. Nantucket is probably smaller than any major metro area. MV, if you go all the way around, it’s about 30 miles.

  • avatar

    My roadtrip name is Megan Johnson.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the Jeep advert; what is the message?

  • avatar

    I’ve known a small but significant number of women who could not only change a tire, but do varying degrees of work on cars; at least two who rebuilt engines, and a couple who overhauled carburetors.

    • 0 avatar

      My mother was required to learn to drive my Grandfather’s first generation Ford Bronco (manual trans, off-road tires) and learn to change a tire on it by herself before she could take her test. I’m gonna do the same thing to my kids regaurdless of gender. Manual trans, be able to change a tire, know how to properly jump start.

      I know a few great ladies too who can handle themselves quite well too.

  • avatar


    We’re cool
    We’re bad
    We’re tough
    We’re not salarymen

  • avatar

    Well speaking of roadtrips, I am packing up the HHR, or as I prefer to call it, the Heritage, and I am leaving northern Michigan Tuesday night and am heading for sunny Florida. As far as necessities, I’ll have a cold drink beside me, a small snack, AM,FM,XM,CD,iPod and Cassettes at the ready. I installed a Bluetooth device in the ceiling above me, and put new tires on the the car, so I am ready to go. Yes, it’s just me, that’s why it’s a “vacation”…. :)

    If you see me on the road, smile and wave!!!

    Otherwise, I’ll see you all when I get back in twelve days.


  • avatar

    I’ll be roadtripping with three of my Boyz this Wednesday – heading from Maine to Ohio for the Saab Ownner’s Convention (SOC). Four fourty-something, single, geeky Saab nuts. Picking up one guy in MA, another two in CT in my 9-3 SportCombi – sadly I JUST sold my 900T convertible – that would have added to the fun, but the SportCombi has a lot more room for parts tent purchases. Taking a big Thule roof box just in case the picking is GOOD this year with our new Dutch Overlords. LOL Hoping for a big pile of brand-new $50 17″ wheels!

    I LOVE the fake name idea – passing this column on to my buds.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like fun…I was thinking about taking a trip in the old 84 760 Turbo, just taking my phone, water bottle, sunglasses, and a hat. Where it dies, I’ll call for the wife to pick me up and we’ll go to a Ford dealer and then get that Mustang convertible that booth babe says we need.

      I really wish this damned thing would be bite the dust.

      At least the scenery is quite nice in this part of the country, hot though.

  • avatar

    Interesting rules.

    My rule #1 is to get a rental car instead of driving your own. My wife & I did a 2300+ road trip in a 35mpg kia ($30/day taxes included) vs my 24mpg sti.

    Kia gas? ~ $184 (65.7g @ 2.80/g)
    STi gas? ~ $287 (95.8 @ $3.00/g)

    Difference: $103

    Car Rental for 10 days ? $300’ish.

    For the extra $200 or so, it’s worth it to let my wife drive 1/2way (The 18 or so hours of driving she did is definitely worth $10/hr to me), have a more comfortable car, and not put wear/tear on my own car. It’s really a no-brainer

    My rule #2>
    Driver pays attention to the road. Passenger fools with any other devices (music, gps, takes cell phone calls for driver). If you are not driving, you get the myfi, navigation, cell phone, and music duty as well as food management. Driver can specify no music in which case passenger puts on headphones.

    My rule #3> If either person needs to pitstop, both should “get out what they can”.

    My rule #4> Keep cooler in the back seat full of ice & sandwiches pre-prepared for the trip. It is passenger duty to manage this as well.

    My rule #5> If driver is ever unable to concentrate, feels sleepy, woozy, tired, distracted, etc he/she must inform passenger immediately and pull over to side of road where driving shift changes. If BOTH are too tired drive, then whomever is in better shape gets both to nearest hotel/motel using gps.

  • avatar

    My personal test for whether I need to pull over and snooze: if crunching on a carrot, cabbage, or something of that ilk doesn’t keep me alert, it’s time to sleep.

    I showed my niece how tire changing was done when she was about six. One time I stopped for a young woman with a flat. I asked her whether she wanted me to change it or to be taught. She took the lesson.

  • avatar

    wow. i thought for sure the rules would include (1) showering or proper use of deoderant prior to leaving and (2) not hitting on you while sharing the back seat. i’m impressed by your restraint boothbabe.

    btw. i 100% agree with the driver = music control. if i have to drive, we’re probably listening to dave matthews band or radiohead, but i’m open to suggestions. . .

  • avatar

    I’m always in favor of a convertible! though I’m not sure its a requirement. And why are people assuming BB would keep the top down all the time? We are talking convertibles not roadsters, and any relatively modern convertible will have A/C. On the hot dull stretches you put the top up – then when the moon is out you drop the top and cruise the cool of the night, preferably on a twisting coastal road with the stars above and the sound and smell of the ocean wafting over you. Any long time convertible owner knows the night time is the right time to drop the top.

    We use a variation of rule #3 – the driver has absolute veto power over whats playing, but whoever is riding shotgun is the designated DJ. That person is empowered to dig through the ipod or laptop or whatever to find the audio needed to tweek the atmosphere.

  • avatar

    I’m sure to be not the first to make this observation. Booth Babe is not a babe. Booth Babe is, of course, masquerading as a woman. Sorry to burst all your balloons here. I am, in fact, a woman – with all the moveable parts. I am also a Reporter. This is not the ‘voice’ of a woman. This is a hoax. … Booth babe is a man, writing for men. And he may have been fooling everyone here – but he’s not fooling me.

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