With midterms turned in and February snow laying in brown, sloppy mountains in all of the parking lots, college students all over the East Coast are heading south for spring break. As I thought back on trips past, it occurred to me that my best trips all included friends with a certain mix of qualities. From those memories, I compiled this list of the four friends you need to have for a fabulously fun spring break.
My friend Marian is our group’s official Mixologist. She has a secret talent for throwing together amazing cocktails from whatever she has on hand. Somehow, she’s figured out the perfect ratio of juice, soda, and alcohol that she adapts to whatever supplies are on hand. Although I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make drinks like she can, I challenged her to create a cocktail that could be made entirely from ingredients at a gas station on the way to the beach. “Okay, I don’t know what to call this but help me think of a name…” she wrote in a Facebook response moments later. All I contributed to this recipe was the name and a taste test, and here it is, Marian’s notes and all (imagine having it read to you in a slight South Carolina drawl to get the full effect):
- Fill a large (at least 24 oz cup) ¾ with ice
- Add 1 packet of Crystal Light Strawberry Energy powder (you get B vitamins!!)
- Add 4 oz of water (it’s hydrating so it has to be good for you)
- Add 5 oz of vodka (plain Smirnoff is fine, but Absolut hibiscus or lemon adds a nice kick)
- Add 4 oz of Sprite Zero
- At this point STIR/SHAKE it all up
- Top with 3 or 4 oz of either pineapple or orange juice.
- And enjoy!
“3 shots done the right way,” Marian wrote at the end.
To that, I’ll add that you could also go for a shot and a half if you’re a lightweight like me. Or no alcohol at all if you choose! To put the ounces into perspective, one shot is the equivalent of 1.5 oz. This drink is fruity and refreshing; choosing diet soda and Crystal Light cuts down on the heavy, syrupy grit that can accompany a full sugar drink. Low and no sugar ingredients also mean it’s also extremely low in calories. Also, drink responsibly, darlings. The sun and surf can really dehydrate you.
She’s always got a phone and a camera in hand, and she’s the one who will sneakily take pictures of you sleeping in the car. Half the time you’ll be fake-yelling at her to delete the awkward photos, and the rest of the time you’ll be grateful for what my friend Maureen refers to as “Forced Photo Memories.” If you’re into pranks and candid shots, you might consider playing a friendly game of Photo War, which my friend Mike and I invented during our sophomore year of high school. To play Photo War, compete with a friend to see who can take the most unflattering photo of the other person. If you really want to be elaborate and someone in your group has a laptop, you can turn this into a slideshow at the end of the week and have your other friends vote for a winner. Then you can delete all of the photos and never talk about it again.
The Survival Expert
This is usually my role in the group. The Survival Expert is the friend who finds solutions for forgotten supplies, broken flip flops, and makes sure all the logistics are running smoothly. Some of my favorite tips include:
- Don’t use gas station bathrooms. They’re gross and there’s almost always a line. Instead, stop at a grocery store. You’ll have to drive a little farther from the highway, but snacks are cheaper there, prepared foods are less sketchy, and almost no one uses grocery store bathrooms so they’re more likely to be clean and line-free.
- Clean out your car every time you stop. My dad used to drive me crazy by ordering garbage round-ups every time we made a stop, but I understood his point as soon as I started using my own car for trips. Nothing is worse than forgetting about a fast food bag and returning to find your car reeking of stale oil.
- Pack a lunch. You’ll feel better and you won’t have to stop as often, plus you’ll save money for important things like t-shirts and alcohol.
- Hotels are great resources. I’ve walked into hotels in Edinburgh, Berlin, and London without being a guest. Before concerts in Richmond, Virginia, I’ve been known to spend an hour or more enjoying a packed dinner in the lobby of a particular Marriott. If you need to print concert tickets, sometimes they even have business centers that will let you print for free. It’s unlikely that a hotel employee would know every guest by sight, and they always have clean bathrooms and free maps. That being said, make sure you’re subtle, polite, and classy – at least pretend to be a guest if you aren’t one.
- Keep disposable plastic cups on hand. It’s way cheaper to buy 2 liter bottles of soda or a gallon of iced tea than for everyone to continuously buy individual beverages.
- A denim shirt might be the most versatile article of clothing you can possibly own. I’ve worn my denim shirt as a beach cover up, pajamas, over a dress for a little extra warmth, and buttoned up with a scarf or necklace for dinner out. I’ve also rolled it up and used it as a pillow and spread it out as a blanket. If denim shirts aren’t your look, try a gauzy white button front shirt or a light sweater – think versatility so you can wear it all week.
My friend Susan has an encyclopedic knowledge of medicines and injuries, as well as a calm and confident bedside manner. Chances are something will go wrong during your trip, and you’ll be grateful for a friend who can diagnose your sunburn, hangover, or splinter at a glance. When you’re at the beach, it’s also a good idea to keep basics like extra sunscreen, aloe, bottled water, Band-Aids, Neosporin, and hydrogen peroxide on hand. Before you leave home, pull together a first aid kit and toss it in your car – you never know when you might need it. For more information on standard first aid kit supplies, check out the Red Cross’ list of suggested supplies.
Photo by Nicki Varkevisser
What’s your role on road trips? Do you have any great tips to share? Tweet us @litdarling!