This offering of expert advice comes from Erin McHugh, author of "The Little Road Trip Handbook."

Summer's here, making it the perfect time to ponder a Great American Birthright: The Road Trip. You may be thinking about a post-college wheels-down adventure right now, or maybe just the words "road trip" bring back fond -- though hazy -- memories. Not to worry: Hazy memories are the hallmark of the Road Trip, and it's never too late to make more memories, which, with any luck, you'll remember fewer of. I mean ... well, you see where I'm headed.

But even if your plans may be filled with good intentions, it's incredibly easy to fall prey to the snafus. From packing the wrong gear (or the wrong buddy) to run-ins with the po-po (wiping your car with used underwear in San Francisco will get you thrown in the hoosegow, for example), there are numerous proverbial pot holes that may suddenly appear. In order to keep you on the right side of the double yellow line, I've compiled some common disasters and ways to steer clear of them.

Learn the rules of the road trip, after the jump.

Spotting a Loser
You gotta make sure you have your Dream Team in place when you step into that car. One rogue passenger and you may as well have stayed home. A pre-interview over a beer is always a good idea. Your potential co-pilot may have a monster ride and a platinum card, but if he starts a sentence with "Kabbalah says ... ," you are definitely sunk. Other signs of a weak link:

-- Does he have special dietary needs?
-- Is his driver's license expired?
-- Does he need to bring his own pillow or his ferret?
-- Does he have any outstanding warrants?

Baggage Is Weighing You Down
One of the most common downfalls of your Road Trip can be loading up with too much baggage. And I don't mean suitcases. I really needn't say don't bring your mother, do I? (But I will, just in case). But no contagious diseases is always a good pre-road check. You know -- flu, GI problems, and ... stuff. And no jail bait is always a good rule of thumb -- your designated driver may have to double up his duties for that one. And personally, I think people confuse a vacation with a road trip. A camera on a vacation is cool, but on any road trip worth its salt? It's just litigation waiting to happen. With Facebook right around the corner.
The Best Cooler
You shouldn't even have to be spoken to about this -- it's not something to scrimp on. And now for about a Benjamin you can get coolers that don't use up precious beer and salsa space with ice. It runs right off your cigarette lighter.

The Music
The driver rules the tunes. The Navigator (shotgun guy) does all the DJ work. End of story. You'll get your turn at the wheel, dude. Then make them suffer with all The Carpenters you want.

Stuff You Just Don't Do
Sing off-key, read aloud (unless it's a sign that says "free wings during happy hour"), drive drunk, give away your business card, snore. You get the picture. Discuss among yourselves and add wisdom where needed.

10 Commandments of the Road
(If you can't follow these, you simply need to stay home.)
I. A road trip is the supreme panacea that cures all.
II. Thou shalt not put any other trips before it.
III. Love thy Fellow Tripper as thyself. I mean, unless, of course, he demurs.
IV. Honor thy Father and thy Mother by sparing them any details.
V. Thou shalt not kill a road tripper's story by blowing the punch line.
VI. Thou shalt not comment on adultery.
VII. Thou shalt not steal. But do work on comps and freebies.
VIII. Thou shalt, nay, must, bear false witness for another tripper.
IX. Thou shalt not covet anyone thy fellow tripper has designs on.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy fellow tripper's goods. Force him to share.

Have Your Excuses Ready to Go
We all know there are plenty of things that may deter you from being back home Sunday night. Or even Tuesday morning. Have your lies ready, and they'd better not be lame. Alien abduction and testifying before a secret grand jury are always a good place to start.

More than this, my friend, cannot be taught -- you've just got to get the feel of the road. Always remember that it's the journey, not the destination, and too much fun is always an oxymoron.

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