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'My Childhood Was Nothing But Road Trips'

Readers share their favorite road trip memories — baloney sandwiches, 8-track tapes and an occasional kid left behind

By Michele Wojciechowski

When I was writing about my own road trip memories, I thought it would be fun to ask other folks about theirs. I reached out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; the stories I got back range from sweet to hilarious and downright awful. Here are some of the best ones.

A grandmother and her grandson in an RV during a road trip. Next Avenue
"We went to Yellowstone and to Yosemite. All over California. Camped by the beach. Had Thanksgiving in Morro Bay. It was magical."  |  Credit: Getty

'Times Were Different Back Then'

"Parents had a station wagon. It had two flip-up seats all the way in the back — basically felt like you were sitting in a tire well, and I sat almost knee-to-knee with my brother. We had four adults and three children with a week's worth of luggage for a trip to Florida! And there was no air conditioning!"
— Donna H., Auvil, Maryland

"My favorite memory is of my mom telling my dad to stop drinking beer while he was driving us to our fishing spot — at 8 a.m. Times were different back then!"
– Maria P., New Jersey

"My father rented a van for a family vacation when we drove from Staten Island, New York to Seabrook Island in South Carolina. After a long drive, we were almost at our destination and found out the villa we rented wasn't ready yet.

We were beyond cranky when we checked into a hotel for the night. As my brother and I complained and whined about something, our father got so annoyed that he slammed the sliding door of the van closed, and it just kept going and flew through the parking lot!"
— Alice K. M., New York

"Camping with the family, brought the dog. Always put her on a long leash, tied off to the bumper of our Comet. It was a rainy trip, so we packed up early to go home.

As we were leaving, my mom kept saying, 'I feel like we are forgetting something.' The road out was slow and hilly. One time, when we hit a low point, I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw our dog panting at the top of the hill behind us, running as fast as she could, still tied to the bumper! 'Sandy!' I yelled.

Needless to say, it ended well or this would be another story altogether."

— Robin M., Ontario, Canada

"Drove across country as a kid. We had an accident in Gallup, New Mexico and had to spend a week or so there. It was super fascinating! Then on to Buffalo, New York. I think that was in 1965. We took Route 66.

My childhood was nothing but road trips. We went to Yellowstone and to Yosemite. All over California. Camped by the beach. Had Thanksgiving in Morro Bay. It was magical."

— Maureen M. B., Florida

'I Have Blocked Those Memories for My Sanity'

"My favorite memories are of my dad, every time we went through a tunnel, opening his window and making a siren noise, so we would hear the 'echo,' and if we went down a particularly big hill — mind you, we were kids so most (hills) were very big at the time — he would say, 'Look ma, no brakes!' (I now do this too!)"

— CarolLee K., Pennsylvania

"We camped frequently, often in places that required long car drives. We had an 8-track player in the car and only one tape that mom and stepdad would let my brother and me listen to — "Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel. I still know every word and all the instrumental parts to every song.

They liked tapes by awful easy listening artists of the 70s and I have blocked those memories for my sanity."

— Brenda L., New Jersey 

"When my parents forgot me at the restaurant ... and my sister Julie goes 'Where's Jeanette?' My mom says I'm in the back of the van, and Julie goes, 'No, she's not.'

And this is in pre-cellphone days. It took them 15 to 20 minutes to realize they'd forgotten me."

— Jeanette H., Wisconsin


'A Man Would Be Walking on the Moon'

"Lunch on the road! Baloney sandwiches, potato chips, Orange Nehi — things we only got when traveling.

Being trapped with my whiny little bro for endless miles — not so great."

— Liz B., New Mexico

 "Turnpike travel, paper tickets ... calculating costs between exits, tossing coins into those baskets. My dad was always so honest, even on unattended toll booths, always putting more coins in, just in case he calculated wrong."

— Lori S. P., Maryland

"We started in New York. Dad packed a tiny black and white TV in the car for a 4,000-mile road trip because he knew at some point in July 1969 a man would be walking on the moon.

We watched the event live, poolside, at a little motel in Laredo, Texas. Next day, we headed out for Mexico City."

— Nan L., Florida

"Masking tape down the middle of the bench back seat. Bro on one side, sis on other. Don't cross the line! After 5 hours, sleeping on each other."

— Janet J., New Mexico

"Traveling down south, stopped at a Stuckey's for peanut brittle. Mom and I ate the whole box. I asked Dad to stop at every exit for a restroom for at least 20 miles.

I was early teens then, now almost 60, and I have not eaten peanut brittle since."

— Lisa V., Maine

Contributor Michele Wojciechowski
Michele Wojciechowski Michele "Wojo" Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer who lives in Baltimore, Md. She's the author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They'll Carry Me Out in a Box. Reach her at Read More
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