My sister and I remember the days well. In our youth, there were no electronics to entertain us. We came up with our own forms of entertainment. And best of all, these were the days before seat belt requirements. Riding in the car was an adventure itself. Piling pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and other odds in ends into the car was like making your own little fort. We would busily claim our space amongst the luggage, our siblings, the cooler, and the family pet. Yes, the dog went everywhere with us and got top billing to boot. I considered myself the smart one and always selected the space behind my dad, so when he got angry at us goofing around and being too loud, I was out of reach of the hand that would come shooting back to grab one of us. Oh, the memories!
The early days of road trips were great! I have been from Vermont to Oregon and back. From Wisconsin to Texas and back. I have hit just about every state in the 48 at some point during a road trip. At 16, one of the first driving experiences for me was driving from Wisconsin to Vermont with my dad and sister. Those were still the days of radar detectors and CB radios. It was fun listening to the truck drivers, and our dad’s handle was “Woodchuck.” It makes me giggle to this day. It also brings back memories of the classic “Smokey and the Bandit” movies. Who doesn’t love a good road chase?
The trip was almost always as good as the destination. As we traveled the scenic American highway, we entertained ourselves with various classic card games such as Slug Bug, Finding the 50 States on License Plates, and the Alphabet Game. McDonalds even had a road trip box game back then with a version of road Bingo. One of our all-time favorite things was giving a signal to the truckers to honk their horn. And, when all else failed, we slept!
Our parent’s survival item was the cooler packed with drinks, snacks, and sandwiches. Our dad was not a big one for making too many stops. The one major rule of the road, when we stopped, everyone was required to use the bathroom whether they had to or not. As my sister and I reminisce, we realize we have instilled some of these things in our own road trips. You could call them road trip traditions. We both still pack food and drink in the car, the kids bring their pillows and favorite stuffed pals, we have our favorite spots to stop and dine, and when you stop for gas, everyone out for the bathroom. We love that despite the introduction of electronic entertainment, they still play some of our favorite road trip games. Neither of us ever think twice about jumping in the car. Hitting the road is a part of our DNA.