I recently went on two very long roadtrips in a 15-seater bus, and I made some observations on the progression of the general mood of a group of people confined to a small space for a long period of time. Read carefully in preparation for your next cross-country trip to ensure you still like your friends by the end of it.
Depending on the start time of the trip, the first stage is often the "fun bus." There is a feeling of excitement and adventure, people are laughing and telling stories, if the group is younger there might be songs and games (if just a group of girlfriends there would definitely be Taylor Swift and Broadway sing-alongs). In the fun bus, time passes quickly, stops along the way are joyous as everyone piles out in the same happy-time mood, and great memories are made. PRESERVE THE FUN BUS AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
If the trip started early in the morning, the first stage may be the "quiet bus." This is marked by people sleeping and having hushed conversations. Hopefully, the quiet bus eventually progresses to the fun bus, but it may fall into the trap of "silent bus," in which everyone puts their headphones in or reads. Time passes very slowly on the quiet bus and people feel perpetually tired, even at the most exciting of stops.
The stage to be avoided at all costs is the "angry bus." This happens when people are sick and tired of being together and looks similar to the silent bus in that many people will have their headphones in, but any conversation will be clipped and sarcastic instead of sleepy and sad sounding. Someone may blow up at some point, which often marks a point of no return. Everyone's opinion of each other changes after the angry bus.
The fun bus can almost always be saved through two means, though. The first is the sharing of snacks. It is hard to ignore or be angry at someone who just passed their Cadbury chocolate bar around to everyone. Once someone starts, everyone pulls out their offerings and eventually polite conversation turns to stories about that one time you were on a long car ride and dropped a piece of chocolate and when you got up it was stuck to the back of your pants and people thought you had crapped yourself. The other nearly surefire way back to the fun bus is crazy souvenir shops. Everyone loves knickknacks and funny photo-ops. Differences are forgotten in the delight of finding ridiculous Loch Ness monster t-t-shirts, and shopper's high is contagious.
In a few days we will be leaving on a week long bus trip through Ireland, and fun bus preservation will be of the utmost importance. Snacks and lightweight conversation topics must be plentiful, though I am afraid none will leave Survivor: Ireland unscathed.