As I was stuck in traffic in Coldwater Canyon, staring at my temperature gauge, hoping my car wouldn’t overheat, and hoping I wouldn’t pee my pants, I thought about what a gift my parents gave my sister and me driving us all over the country. Here are the lessons I learned.

1. Do not drink the water at Yellowstone Park and then go look at the geysers. Immense vomiting will follow.

2. If you stop for gas, always, always, always, go pee. Because if you do not, when you do have to pee, your dad will make you wait until the next gas stop. This is why I have a really, really strong bladder and also a really, really weird thing about trying to make it 65 more miles before I go pee. It’s like a challenge.

3. The instant your sister makes a line across the back seat and says, don’t cross this line, you will want to cross it. Pinching, kicking, biting and scratching will follow.

4. The driver has control of the radio. Always.

5. If you fart in the car, roll down the window. (Sorry to call you out on this, Dad, but you never learned this one.)

6. Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska are called fly over states for good reason.

7. If you’re driving North and East in the summer you will want to be on specific side of the car. I can’t remember which side. The other side will be hot and annoying. My sister always picked the correct side.

8. Mix tapes-I have yet to re-create the magical mix tape that my sister and I had on our trip to college from AZ to MN in 1994. Some things aren’t meant to be re-created.

9. My mom will get out of driving every time if you let her. This is why I really actually like being the driver on long road trips.

10. If you think your car will break down, it won’t. If you think it’s going to be fine, you will blow a tire. ALWAYS change your oil before going on a road trip. It will keep your tires from blowing out. I don’t know why, but it’s true.

11. Arizona remains the most beautiful state in the lower 48 in my mind to this day.