So you have a date for Valentine’s Day. That’s great!

But let’s be real. Dating can be unpredictable. You fantasize all week about how Friday night will be the start of your forever fairy tale. Next thing you know, you’re wearing your vintage fur jacket in a (surprise!) vegan restaurant, and your recent ex is seated at the table next to you. To top it all off, your date has been face down in his Instagram feed since you ordered drinks, and you’re pretty sure his shoes are terrible.

While there are many factors of dating you can’t control, you can at least try to make the pickup a success. Because, who knows, you might actually want to see this person again.

While we can’t help you get reservations at the most romantic spot in town, we can offer a few pointers for picking up your date. Check out these Valentine’s Day driving tips so you can start your next date out on the right foot (and I don’t just mean no Crocs™!).

Let your date be the DJ

This is a great way to see what musical tastes you have in common without asking the dreaded, hopelessly cliché list question. Just hand over your phone (or control of the radio) and let them choose the tunes. This way, your date gets to pick the soundtrack while also getting a pretty good preview of what you’re into.

Clean up after your pup

So your dog’s normally your copilot. Cool! Pets are the perfect icebreaker for a lull during first-date conversation. However, the subject shouldn’t arise due to dog hair lining your passenger’s seat or the smell of chewed rawhide.

Give your passenger seat a once (or twice) over with a lint roller or vacuum before your date. (While you’re at it, do the same for your sweater!) Then place an air freshener in the car with a scent that’s just strong enough to cover up evidence that your pup’s a regular passenger.

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Consider the date a no-phone zone

Getting lost in your phone while behind the wheel isn’t just unsafe — it’s also downright rude. It doesn’t matter if you’re sending a quick text or rattling off favorite bands from your iTunes. Date night’s the time to disconnect from technology no matter what! Be in the moment and enjoy the company in your passenger seat.

Play it cool (but not too cool)

If he’s in a sweater or she’s in a skirt, cranking your car’s climate controls to extremes could be more uncomfortable for your date than the inevitable small talk. Once your date’s settled in, casually ask for their preference.

Stay even-keel behind the wheel

Even if your date exhibits your top 5 deal breakers in the first few minutes, curb that road rage. Otherwise you’ll risk coming off like a total psycho and might ruin your chance for a second date. Not to mention the fact that road rage can be extremely dangerous.

Say “ok” to valet

Unless the date itself is actually a hike, don’t make it one! Whether your partner’s playing it cool in pared-down leather boots or decked out in sky-high sandals, valet is much preferred over finding a parking spot that’s miles away from the restaurant. No date should ever turn into an impromptu excursion just to save a few bucks on parking. Once you hand over the keys to the valet attendant, the night’s yours to enjoy.

Whether this night ends up as an adorable anecdote told at your wedding or a hilarious horror story you share with friends over brunch, be happy knowing that you never know. That’s what makes dating so fun, after all.

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Look no further than this car-themed Valentine’s Day playlist to serenade you as you drive to pick up your date.

Should the night take a turn for the better, have your ride make out ready with these helpful pointers.

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about Emily Rose

During her time at Esurance, when Emily was not giving the nitty gritty details of insurance a much needed makeover, she enjoyed scouring thrift shops for cool vintage finds and taking her role as a proud Pom mom much too seriously.