Road trips with teenage kids require patience, snacks, and cars with built-in phone chargers. While the first two are very important, the third is by far the most important. In fact, road trips of distances greater than eleven miles with teenagers are strongly discouraged unless your car comes equipped with these life-saving chargers.
I scoured the web for a study to prove what I’m about to say, but unfortunately all I have is empirical evidence. So, here goes: A parent driving a car with a teenager in it but without a phone charger will dramatically increase their speed, commensurate with the dwindling battery life of the child’s phone.
Put simply, if the child’s phone is in no danger of dying, the parent will maintain the legal rate of speed. However, if the child’s phone begins to lose its power, the parent will begin driving at increased speeds, all in an attempt to arrive at the intended destination before the dreaded words, “My phone is dead,” are spoken.
For the visual learners:
Battery Life Rate of Speed
100% 55 MPH
90% 65 MPH
50% 110 MPH
3% 455 MPH
Cops will probably just let you go with a warning if you can prove to the officer, through genuine exasperation, that your child’s device is losing power.
Look, I like my kids. They’re pretty decent people, but teenagers can be really ill-mannered at times. Preteens can also be rude, but their voices haven’t changed yet, so it still sounds kind of cute.
Travelling with babies and/or young kids presents its own challenges, but that phase of my life is over and, from this perspective, it wasn’t all that bad.
For everyone’s sake, it’s best that the kids put in their headphones and listen to their music, i.e., the wacky amalgamation of various genres that all combine to make a heinous sound they call “music.” Likewise, I get to blast my 90s rock music, a music my kids consider some wacky amalgamation of various genres that all combine to make a heinous sound I call “music.”
Not that I don’t want to talk to my kids on a road trip. I mean, I don’t, but they also don’t want to talk to me. What are we even going to talk about? My wife and I are in our 40s. The kids don’t care about my intermittent low back pain, which coat my wife should wear to the wedding, or whether we should attend both Toad the Wet Sprocket concerts on back-to-back nights.
Seriously, what are we going to talk about? How scenic the Jersey turnpike is? (It isn’t.)
Was Interstate 95 actually designed to be a social experiment to test the boundaries of nervous breakdowns? (It was.)
When are we going to be there? Map it yourself on that fancy – and fully charged – phone of yours!
When I was a kid, we had to resort to using our imaginations on road trips – which, by the way, were miserable experiences. It got so bad on an 8-hour trip to the beach once that I actually drew a map of the east coast, along with a menacing hurricane that pummeled North Carolina. Unsatisfied with my rendering of the Carolinas – I couldn’t get the barrier islands right – I balled up the paper, threw it on the floor, and started over. What I did with the other 7 hours and 45 minutes was even worse. We played the license plate game. Look it up, kids.
So, no. No interactions between teenagers and their parents are required on road trips these days. It’s in everyone’s best interest. We can talk when we get to our final destination, or in seven years when they think we’re worth their time again.
Until then, safe travels and keep it plugged in.