The Gen X Road Trip: As Kids vs With Our Kids

The Gen X Road Trip: As Kids vs WIth Our Kids ( #humor #funny #nostalgia #rememberwhen #80s #genX ) @Jenny From The BlogYou guys know how I’m a slightly obsessed, nostalgic Gen Xer? Seriously, things were so different when we were kids.  Take the road trip … Sure, there are  similarities — we elbowed our siblings, rolled our eyes at our parents as they blared their oldies, and asked “How much farther now?” more times than the Smurfs on their way to visit Father Time. (How many of you were with me for that reference?) And yes, my kids have to go to the bathroom the second we hit the highway, the same way we did, but that may be where the similarities end. Here’s proof:

AS KIDS: Wow, were our games complex. There was I SpyMake the Trucker Honk His HornThe License Plate GameGHOSTMad Libs, those Yes & Know invisible ink pads, and the most desperate game of all: the Wave Game, which was played in desperate times and consisted of you and your siblings waving at people in passing cars and then fighting over who got the most waves back. (It was hard to really tell who they were waving at, but you were always convinced it was you, which made keeping score tricky.) And of course there was my Dad’s favorite, The Quiet Game, which earned you a whole nickel (no it wasn’t wooden, I’m not that old).

OUR KIDS: My kids wouldn’t even understand most of the paragraph above. For starters, they’d say, “Mad Libs is an app, right?” and the one time I showed them a Yes & Know Pad at a rest stop — they oohed and ahhed like one would in the Museum of Natural History “This is what you did for fun in the olden days?”

AS KIDS: We brought our Sony Walkman (Walkmans? Walkmen?) and a box of mix tapes that were a compilation of songs we’d taped off the radio — well half songs I should say — as we were never able to hit the “record” button fast enough. We had those football and baseball “video” games with the dots that blipped across the field and, eventually, Gameboy, which gave me Tetris nightmares and had me looking at shelves at rest stops with the intention of mentally maneuvering all the Twinkies and Tasty Cakes onto the same shelf. (PS: All of the aboveran out of batteries halfway to your destination, as there were no chargers and the adults actually used the cigarette lighters to, well, light cigarettes … I’m pretty sure 90 percent of the adults I knew smoked.)

OUR KIDS: Kids pile into the car with 500 DVDs, multiple sets of headphones, Sony PS607s, Kindles, iParaphenalia (pads, touches, etc.) with a thousand apps (the use of a cellphone as a hot spot), and enough adapters to fill every car lighter. (My kids, by the way, wouldn’t even know the original purpose of those things.)

AS KIDS: We fought relentlessly over what seat we got … and there was a hierarchy: The BEST spots were the window seats. As fresh air was essential, being that you’d spend much of the ride in a cloud of Salems, or Pall Malls (well, in my case, a mix of that and pipe smoke). Of course, if you had a hatchback, you all go the best spot — in the trunk with seats folded forward bed-style! The worst spot? The hump. Half the time the hump didn’t even have a seat belt. Whoam I kidding, seat belts were merely a suggestion back then anyway. If the secondhand smoke didn’t kill ya, the lack of seat belts certainly didn’t help your odds of survival.

OUR KIDS: Well, there’s really no such thing as sprawling out because most of us, myself included, don’t allow those seat belts to be unbuckled until the car is in “PARK” and the carseats we use have like 37-point harnesses. (PS: I’m pretty sure I’ll be making my kids ride in the back until they get their learners’ permits, so calling “shotgun” would be futile.)

AS KIDS: For some reason, no one liked to use the AC back then or much heat, for that matter. We were either sweating bullets with our heads hung out the window trying not to catch bugs, or slightly frozen in those gloves where each finger was a different person or watching our Freezy Freakies change.

OUR KIDS: Air-wise our kids are in luck. They don’t have to spend 15 minutes trying to crank the window open (well, they can’t open them at all, they’re on child-lock), but no worries, there’s an air vent approximately every five inches. I turn back to check on my kids and they look like they’re in a photo-shoot.

AS KIDS: Once all your batteries ran out, you were stuck bopping along to the oldies, though you could’ve gotten lucky and enjoyed a little Billy Joel, Hall and Oats, Styx, maybe some Donna Summers. I remember hearing a DJ halfway through a car trip announce that disco was officially dead. I think I cried for the entire second leg. “Why mom why? Will I never get to hear (such classics as) ‘Hot Stuff’ or ‘That’s the Way I Like It’ or (my personal favorite) ‘Disco Duck’ ever again???”

OUR KIDS: My kids luckily have chargers at the ready, so it’s up to them if they want to listen to my XM, angst-ridden ’90s alternative, or my bubblegum ’80s on 8. And yes, like any typical over-indulgent Gen X parent, I allow them to pick the stations when they grow tired of all the crap they insisted on bringing along.

(That wouldn’t have gone over well with my Dad, who would’ve said, “You get to pick the music when you own the car.”)

All in all, I’d say our kids have got it A-OK, though it doesn’t stop them from complaining that they’re bored every seven minutes. Next trip, we do it old school-style, and I’m sure all trips to follow will be a breeze.

What did I miss about car trips in the olden days?

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18 thoughts on “The Gen X Road Trip: As Kids vs With Our Kids

  1. Lkelly

    This is great – particularly the note about being hot boxed by our parents in a cloud of ‘ciggy’ smoke….ours were Merits. We played the punch buggy game – where you had a free pass to dead arm your sibling when you saw a Volkswagen beetle.

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Oh, I forgot punchbuggy… my kids still do it, yet they have this knack for thinking everything is a punchbuggy… mini coopers, smart cars, anything smaller than a mini-van. I think they just like to hit me!

  2. liz

    Yes the road trips were the greatest. Though we didn’t have a hatchback, my family had the original mini-van – a pickup truck w/ a cover. Where my parents in all their wisdom would drive from south louisiana to northern ohio w/ 3 kids in the back and the only protection from the road was my mom’s insistence that all the luggage get placed along the tailgate incase it opens. The bags would fall out but not the kids.

  3. Terry

    Bahaha! I was always stuck on the “hump bump”! Ahhh, the memories…the smog and I’ll never understand why my Dad NEVER had to pee. Stopping was not an option. 🙂

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      That was the seat you got if you were the youngest or lost a bet. I remember my mom had a Camaro with the most uncomfortable bucket seats, but nothing was worse than the bump in that car. I don’t know if it had a belt at frankly, your head could hit roof or fly out a T-top anytime someone drove over something larger than a pebble.
      Jenny from the blog recently posted…7 Things You Won’t Get to Do Once You Have Children – Humor Lists No. 42My Profile

  4. sparkling74

    AS always, I’m saying “so true, so true” as I read every word of what we did and what our kids have no clue about. Thankfully, our family had a motorhome so our road trips were a little more spacious. And my parents never smoked. We had our walkmen but the 4, count them 4! batteries would die and we’d think it was really funny to listen to the last minute before the batteries died when everything was in slowmo. And who took the batteries out and switched them around trying to get every last bit of juice out of them?

    Those invisible ink pads. I hated them. HATED the way they looked!!

    And did anyone have that stupid license plate bingo game where you were supposed to slide a little window over a state when you saw one (because you can’t use bingo chips in the car)? My sister would never play that with me!

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      OMG that’s hilarious. My stepdad had a motor home so I know the motor home drill. A lot of CB talk with creepy creepy men who should have probably known I was in no older than 11 by the tone of my voice! I can picture the windows, but didn’t know they existed. I feel deprived… we had to rely on our memories! WTF?
      Jenny from the blog recently posted…Anti Aging Smoothie Recipes That Will Make it Easier to Lie About Your AgeMy Profile

  5. Foxy Wine Pocket

    Oh my god. I’ve tried to block those roadtrips out of my memory. I was the youngest of six so I sat in the front of the station wagon in between my parents. I can still hear the cigarettes being smashed out in the metal ashtrays. The only game I remember was the “Car Bingo” game where you got to cover an object you saw outside the car by sliding the tiny red see-through plastic square over the object on the Bingo card. Only I sat in between two huge adults so I didn’t get to see much.

    But I remember my siblings having all of the toys you have pictured.

    I need a drink now.
    Foxy Wine Pocket recently posted…Wanna See My Foxy Pocket? (Plus an Exciting Announcement)My Profile

  6. maurnas

    Oh my god. Now I don’t think I can go another day without a view-master. I was obsessed with those as a kid. I think it went into hibernation, but that image just woke it up.

  7. Ribena Tina @ ribenamusings

    We had the ‘Count as many cars of the same colour as you can and beat your sister’ game as well as many of the same you guys did in the US – we probably copied you.

    Beautiful B and I recently went on a trip to London and I took her to all the museums. Her favourite was the Science Museum surprisingly. You know you are getting old when you see a display that shows IT and such over the generations and the Etch-A-Sketch and Gameboy are there just to name 2 of the things. Beautiful B had so much fun telling me I was old enough to be in a museum. Oh how we laughed…..
    Ribena Tina @ ribenamusings recently posted…Can’t quite put my finger on itMy Profile

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Jenny – So glad you stopped by. I’m not such a huge fan of monkey bars, they’re totally overrated – you didn’t miss much. Though, I’m less of a fan of playing with dead people, so technically, you win. (That said, I’m sure you didn’t feel as bad about your vacays after seeing Weekend at Bernie’s and Beetlejuice — they really did a lot to glamorize the whole play with dead people movement, phew.)

  8. Amy

    Haha, i’m 22 and played most of these games! (Except Jenny’s playing at the graveyard game!)
    And of course all car journeys were a fight for a window seat and siblings were not allowed over the line on the seats and knees were most definitely not allowed to touch! Then there was “eye spy”, punch if you see double letters on number plates game, punch if you see a yellow car game aaaaand punch if you see a mini game. Turns out we were a punchy little bunch!
    Amy recently posted…… Aaand Stop!My Profile


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