There is no better way to celebrate your independence than by casting off the shackles of responsibility and hitting the open road with your best friend.  

Too bad your best friend bailed, but don’t panic. Here are some helpful tips for surviving a road trip with someone you dislike. 

1. Make an effort. Do you remember back in kindergarten when the funny-smelling kid who ate notebook paper wanted to sit at your table? Well, what your teacher said to you at the time still applies today—be nice. One mark of a mature adult is the ability to patiently accept personality differences, and if you force yourself to give someone the benefit of the doubt, that person may do the same for you. Maybe while you’re going out of your way to be friendly, you’ll accidentally become friends. If you successfully master tip number one, feel free to disregard the rest. 

2. Bite your tongue. If you are anything like me, you have a constant stream of internal monologue going through your head at all times. It’s the observation that your mind makes before the censorship of your mouth can clean up. However, sometimes when people are in stressful situations, that censorship gets neglected. So if your companion says something like “I hope that cop didn’t see me speeding,” and the first response in your head is “I hope he did,” you might want to do something to ensure verbal filtration. Bite your tongue, literally if you have to. Or better yet, stuff your face with gooey trip-food and you won’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing because all that will come out is “Hm Hmmph fe gib.” 

3. Sleep. Considered by some to be a coward’s way out, sleep is still the absolute best way to avoid what might otherwise be inevitable conflict. Don’t get me wrong, avoiding conflicts can lead to deep-seated resentment. However, if you are reading this, then it’s not psychological stability you’re after. What you want is a quick solution, and that solution is a nap. 

If you’re not sleepy, fake it. Be warned, however, that effectively selling a false slumber takes resolve. With every movement you will unintentionally draw the eye of your companion, and once someone suspects you’ve been faking sleep to avoid their company, there is no way back. Also, don’t attempt any advanced techniques unless you’re sure that you can pull them off. Snoring, for example, is like sneezing; it almost never looks authentic when mimicked. Whatever you do, just make sure you are committed to the part. It can really hurt your credibility if you sit motionless with your eyes half closed for two hours and then suddenly exclaim, “Oh look, an IHOP! Let’s stop for pancakes!”  

4. Find a common foe. Few things bring people together faster than mutual enemies. When two cavemen wanted to get to know each other, all they had to do was make fun of the caveman who still hadn’t figured out how to use fire. If you’re stuck in a 3′ x 3′ x 4′ space while trying desperately to keep from killing the other person in the car, then feel free to pick on someone who is lucky enough not to be present.  

5. Sit in agonizing silence. This is it. Nothing turns minutes into hours and car trips into grim death marches quite like awkward silence. Even pretending to sleep somehow feels better than the painful quiet of two fully awake individuals who have nothing to say to each other. Every muffled fidget, every grating clearing of the throat becomes an echoing testament to the awkwardness that pulses between you. Silence has its uses, of course, or it would have been left off of this list; but it really should be your last, desperate attempt. It still beats a fistfight in a moving vehicle . . . but not by much.

—Christopher Fosse