1. Your Ride: Expectation
You and your friends splurge on an upscale rental, because why not?! Vegas, baby!
2. Your Ride: Reality
You grossly underestimated the cost of a rental car. Your friend Mike says he can borrow his great-aunt’s Pinto, as long as you’re all ok with having to hold your passenger doors closed with a length of rope for the duration of the trip. Oh and six miles to the gallon.
3. Road Trip Companions: Expectation
Everyone is just thrilled to be sharing this time together. You’ll swap stories, and you’ll share smoothies. Twenty years from now, at your weekly poker night, you’ll fondly look back on this trip and regard it as the moment in which the four of you formed an eternal bond.
4. Road Trip Companions: Reality
You thought you liked these people. But you really, really don’t.
5. Snacks: Expectation
You’ve thought ahead and packed a veritable cornucopia of tasty treats for you and your friends to enjoy. Sandwiches, fruits, maybe a handful of Hershey’s kisses if you’re feeling adventurous!
6. Snacks: Reality
An hour into the trip, Mike will announce that he’s hungry, and even though the rest of you would rather wait longer before stopping, you hastily decide to grab some greasy grub from the next fast food place you see. You reluctantly eat your Bacon Blaster, and then you hate yourself for a while.
7. Music: Expectation
You imagine yourself getting immersed in the fascinating profiles of This American Life - Ira Glass’ dulcet tones masking the din of the car’s engine.
8. Music: Reality
There’s no auxiliary input for your iPod, there’s no CD player. There isn’t even a functioning radio in this ancient Pinto. All there is is a tape deck, and the only thing you found under the seat is an old Jock Jams cassette. As “Whoomp! (There It Is)” comes on for the fourth time, a single tear falls down your cheek.
9. Problems Encountered: Expectation
You brought too much string cheese! There’s simply no way you’ll be able to eat this much string cheese!
10. Problems Encountered: Reality
Your tire is flat, and none of you have any idea what a tire even looks like, let alone how to change it.
11. Sleeping: Expectation
With your earbuds in, the soft rumble of the quiet engine lulls you to sleep. You almost feel as though you’re lying in a grassy field, the sun warming your face.
12. Sleeping: Reality
It becomes obvious after three hours of trying that it is just physically impossible for a grown human to fall asleep in a comfortable position while sitting in the seat of a car. To spite this theory, you fall asleep anyway. You wake up twenty-two minutes later with a crick in your neck and your cheek damp with saliva.
13. Smells: Expectation
The weather will be beautiful, the windows will be down, and you’ll smell the sweet scent of springtime in America.
14. Smells: Reality
Those Bacon Blasters have made their way through all of your digestive tracts, and the inevitable is happening. And it’s raining, so cracking a window is not an option.
15. Conversation: Expectation
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll empathize and commiserate. You’ll find common interests and common pet peeves. You’ll form lasting friendships.
16. Conversation: Reality
A girl you don’t know very well will talk for two and a half hours about a boy she just met. She thinks he might be her soulmate, but he won’t answer her phone calls, and won’t text her unless it’s past 2am. Is that weird?
17. Flying to Vegas: Reality
Yeah, you can avoid all this mess. Virgin America can now get you from LAX to Vegas and back, and they can do it in the most stylish way imaginable.