How to slowly take command of the aux cord on a roadtrip

source: gabiclaire

Over spring break, I embarked on a 16-hour drive to Denver, Colorado which spanned 2 days.

I have found that roadtripping is one of the best ways to get to know a group of people. This experience is only made more meaningful when the aux cord is ON FIRE.

If you’re like me and spend 90% of your waking hours with music running through your head, you’ll want to hear some familiars in the car. You’ll want to slowly gain control of the audio cord without infringing on every other passenger’s right to the aux cord. You’re going to have to make them want it too. 

Familiarize yourself with the car’s audio system.

Someone’s gonna complain that the music is too loud in the back. Know how to move the music from the back to the front, from left to right, etc. etc. to accommodate every individual’s needs.

Be prepared for everything.

Think battery cords, extra audio cords, portable chargers, extender cords so that you can play music even if you’re taking a turn in the backseat, extra headphones/earplugs for anyone who wants to nap, and more. You don’t want there to be a lull in the music while you fumble with a wire, lest you risk hurting your credibility as road trip DJ.

Also, be prepared to sit shotgun and help navigate. The voice from Google Maps will play over your music when it comes time to dictate directions, which can be very helpful for the driver.

Play diverse music. 

You have to be mindful of every single passenger on the car, especially those who will speak their mind about your music choices. You’re probably not the only music lover on the car, and you have to consider picking and selecting from every genre of music, from every decade, and every continent of the world (ambitious, I know).

Not everyone’s going to be singing every second. Make sure to intersperse thoughtful, stare-out-the-window songs between the headbangers.

Also, depending on your relationship with the people in the car, you should start off safe in terms of music comfort/familiarity. Select songs that have singable lyrics, and not obscure songs from an old/less popular album. Every once in a while, however, you should throw in one of your favorites that you think others might enjoy, and hope to contribute meaningfully to someone’s listening experience. That’s all you can hope for on roadtrips.*

And adapt your music choices according to people’s reactions. If someone expresses distaste at Ariana Grande’s voice, suck it up and take her Christmas album off the queue.

You’re also going to get a lot of hate for playing Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour for an hour straight, especially if the driver wants some Riff Raff.

Have all sorts of playlists ready.

2000’s throwbacks, heavy rap battles, and classics for a long highway. And everything in between. Be ready when someone says, “YO, put on some Beyoncé!”

If you understand that there’s a time and place for certain styles of music, check out this article with mood-inspired playlists by

Know when to let go of the reigns.

You can’t please everyone, and eventually someone else on the car will come to recognize this and ask to play “a song,” which will likely lead to another song, and another. Remember that you are not the queen/king of the car, and be happy to hand control over to someone else (temporarily) while your phone recharges or something.

Especially if the driver wants to put something on. This is the person in control of the car, who has to stay sitting for however long, who has to keep their eyes on the road. If they want to listen to Lindsay Lohan songs from the 2000’s, then by all means!

*Please recognize that this post is rather generic and applies best to the sort of roadtrip that I was on, in which I was put in a car with 4 strangers and with no knowledge of their musical taste.

Obviously, if you are going on a trip with 4 of your best friends and you all love punk rock, then ignore everything that I’ve said and just jam out to the Sex Pistols.

A (road)trippin’ playlist curated by yours truly:

If you want actual road-trip themed songs, check out this playlist carefully selected by the connoisseurs of Buzzfeed.

Related: Drive Slow, Homie (a Ta-ku mix for HYPETRAK) – inspired by a magical car ride I had with my friend Michelle in Kansas over the summer. (BELOW)


  1. Sonya

    I have trouble not letting the control get to my head (as the Spotify Premium ad would say). Right now I have a Spotify Faux-Free account to help alleviate the mass-song-switching. But if we’re going on a road trip, I’ll sometimes splurge and pay a few bucks that month to have music downloaded to my phone.

    Even though we have a nice car, it’s old. We still have to use the tape-cassette adapter! :)


    • catdiggedydog

      Hey Sonya! Thanks for reading :) who do you normally go on road trips with? I suppose it depends on if you know the people very well vs. not, and what their music tastes are like. That’s a good idea, to download music accordingly…at home I still have to use my tape-cassette adapter as well! My dad invested in a Bluetooth device that makes it so much easier to use your phone in the car (not when you’re driving, of course!)


      • Sonya

        I don’t know if this is considered a road trip, but my husband’s parents live 300+ miles away… Which equates to about 4.5 hours of car time. We make that trip probably a dozen times a year, and they make the drive to our house just as much (if not more). The last time we went on a true road trip was July and I used Amazon Prime for music. It’s library is like, a minutia of the size of Spotify, but we already have an Amazon Prime membership so the music is free. :)


        • catdiggedydog

          I consider a 15 minute drive to school a road trip, so yes, what you described is CERTAINLY a road trip. I’ve never used Amazon Prime before! I should give it a try sometime. I just don’t know if they have the kind of music that I like. I am a strong supporter of Spotify Premium because you can get so much music for just $5! At least, it costs $5 a month with a student discount.


  2. Pingback: 7 reasons to go on an ASB trip | Catherine Zhang

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