What you need to know:
- Rule number one, be straightforward about expectations, particularly around expenditure.
- Rule number two; treat the car with respect. It's not your car so a little courtesy doesn't hurt.
- This is also not the space to start having arguments over who sits in the front seat.
This past week marks two important milestones in my life. It was both my birthday and exactly a year since I started writing this column. Who would have known?
Time does fly when you're having a good time. I remembered the nerves and endless self-doubt that I had over the first few months. The imposter syndrome; learning to deal with the blowback; the constant challenge to avoid morphing into my predecessor and to write in my own voice as honestly as I can.
As a celebration of all these things, my favourite people and I took an amazing road trip to Isiolo. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It really was. It worked because it's people I love and care about and also people that are as honest as I am. Today let me run through a quick road trip handbook.
Rule number one, be straightforward about expectations, particularly around expenditure. Many a tour has left people with broken friendships because of unmet expectations. Someone talked about the babes who carry nothing to the trip apart from Bata Ngomas and a toothbrush and think their presence is enough. No wonder some people are so excited about road trips. It's because they don't have to pay for anything. Don't be that leech, chase the bloodsuckers away but if you feel that you want to cover someone's costs, discuss that beforehand.
Rule number two; treat the car with respect. It's not your car so a little courtesy doesn't hurt. Don't throw rubbish in the car, be careful about how you eat food in it, wipe your muddy feet before you get into the car. If you're driving someone else's car, this isn't the day to experiment with all those techniques that your Uber Chap Chap at home can't do. When the car owner tells you he doesn't like something, this isn't the day to give him your opinion. When you have your own car, then and only then will your opinion matter.
Rule number three; don't take over the radio. This isn't your opportunity to put Jose Gatutura on loudspeaker because you want to show everyone your music taste and to torture everyone with your voice that only your mother could and should love. If you have the aux cable, first ask the driver what he prefers and at what volume and then ask everyone else in the car so everyone is included. If you're controlling the music, think of yourself as the music director for your favourite series. Make it memorable!
Rule number four; basic hygiene isn't a negotiation. We've all been with people who think that taking a bath is optional and people who smell like they've been in the bush for a week and who make you feel like they should be the star in a deodorant advertisement. Don't be that person. I can only imagine what a torturous experience this can be. Do you always find that people open the window even when it's cold on a road trip? Have you thought that maybe you are the reason that they are willing to risk pneumonia? Water is dirt cheap so that's never an excuse and deodorant and cologne are not an alternative to good old soap and water.
Rule number five; keep the conversation light. We do these voyages as a form of relaxation. We are tired of the work and we want to get away from work and family. In that same vein, we do it as an escape from adulting and reality. This isn't the space where you bring your long-held view on religion, Syria, Iraq, and abortion, and whatever else you think the world really needs to know.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't have your views. Far from it. I'm just saying you can leave that for other days. Today isn't the day when you feel like you'll confront someone on views that they have that are different from yours or over that post they made on Facebook and how it made you feel. Leave your feelings where they came from and let loose.
This is also not the space to start having arguments over who sits in the front seat. If you're still impressed by car seats, then maybe start with a matatu road trip then move on up slowly when you've grown up.