Long car rides as a kid


Growing up, I remember on later drives, my mom would hit just the right bump to jolt me awake as she perfectly pulled into the driveway. There were times where though where that bump came a little too soon and my drowsiness from the at most five minutes of sleep I received made me angry at the pavement below. Now as a seventeen year old who’s driven across states, I realize how much happened in that backseat. Besides the short frequent car rides, every once and a while I’d pack up my things for some big adventure. 

Whenever my mom was the driver, she’d begin to lay out blankets and pillows in the backseat, and oh I will never forget—I mean how could I—the glorious snacks. At my house when I open the cabinet, I find, if I’m lucky, a bag of chips; I don’t know what changes from house to vehicle, but for some reason if there was a long car ride, there was a feast. Now this feast may end up with a stop on the side of the road to throw out a barf covered car seat—don’t worry I didn’t throw up, just my brother—and sometimes an entire bag of popcorn for dinner, but it was always worth the build up.

I think one of the hardest things to do is entertain yourself in the car, especially when you’re younger, but my brother and I always found a way. I think the key to our success may be the Nintendo Switch, so I would recommend one of those for this situation. A few days ago I was trying to find good music to study and somehow landed on the Mario Kart soundtrack which really swung me back to driving to Lake Erie in 2018. It was always a struggle to play any type of card game in the car too, but my brother and I would somehow find a way—even if it ended with a game of 52 card pickup on the floor of the car (and you best bet we never found all 52). 

I can’t imagine not having my brother on these trips though; he was my full entertainment, even if it was just watching him play a video game and complain about how his phone is going to die—our mom would never give us the charger because I guess if her phone battery was under 98 percent, the GPS was a goner. So for all the only children out there, perks to you I don’t know how you survived a 45 minute drive with only your parents and a pillow. 

The key though, to any long car ride as a kid, only child or not, was of course sleeping. My neck may be crooked for the rest of my life, but I did get to sleep for a full 25 minutes on my way to Pennsylvania. The quality of sleep depended on the ride of course, since it was always a fight between my brother and I on who could lay their head on the middle console. Honestly looking back on it now, I think the best choice is the window if you can situate your pillow accordingly. 

My long car rides were usually pretty comfortable and entertaining, and now as a driver I hope I can create such a roomy and memorable experience just as my mom did.