The gradual erosion of the car trip experience, part 2


When I learned that my nieces were heading out on a road trip, I asked, "Are you going to sing songs?"

My eldest niece looked at me as if I were from Mars, then replied, "No, we bring electronics."

Comments (27)
  1. Jack B Nimble says:

    We always sang "Oh You Can't Get to Heaven" on road trips.

  2. Alan says:

    Ah, memories of long family car trips as a child in the 80s.

    They sucked.

    Hurray for the future!

  3. lister says:

    We never sang. We brought books and had travel games. I mostly just stared out the window. Kids today have it easy.

  4. Dan Bugglin says:

    If I use electronics in the car I tend to feel car sick now.  Never happened when I was a kid. :(

    Fortunately it's just with a 3DS or similar… with simple phone stuff I usually don't get sick.

  5. SimonRev says:

    My kids are limited to 30 minutes of PC or TV a day.  We recently went on a 18 hour road trip — so we gave them each a tablet with an assortment of games and movies.  I was shocked that they could get so involved that they would only come up for air when we stopped for gas.

  6. John Doe says:

    Why not take the chance to insert science documentaries, or Nth-grade ABC or algebra games, in the electronic devices?  They'll still be kind of knocked, but they'll be learning at the same time.

    And the best part is, if they don't like the entertainment, they'll have to put up with the trip and/or sibling(s), as it was probably originally intended.

  7. Fleet Command says:

    I normally don't let anyone discover this but none of you know who the hell I am so…

    I used to sing "Waiting at the church!"

  8. Lascaille says:

    @SimonRev – 30 minutes of TV a day? That's… half a program and 10 minutes of adverts? Sounds like a recipe for ADD. Carry on!

  9. back-seat rider says:

    A good dozen or fifteen years after graduating from college, my father remembered with distaste a ride he caught back home across the Midwest. I forget what song the driver kept singing, but it might have been "Working on the Railway". This may be why I don't remember us singing on long car trips, of which we took quite a few.

  10. back-seat rider says:

    And while I'm at it, shouldn't you count the interstates as part of the deterioration? I mean, why slide by Hagerstown on I-70 at speed, when you could be stopping at ever red light in the town, and as I recall taking a couple of cycles to get through each one?

  11. Gabe says:

    I would imagine that there are some families that like singing, and they sing on road trips. I recall having one friend growing up whose car actually had song books stowed away for just such occassions.

    My family was not one of those that sang. I generally brought programming manuals with me to read. I can't remember what my siblings did on road trips, but I doubt it was anything more fun than playing with a tablet computer.

    I suppose road trips are supposed to build character?

  12. SimonRev says:

    @Lascaille:  By TV what I really mean is Netflix or something from our XBMC library.  They are also allowed to pool resources — so that all three could work together and select a 90 minute movie.  They rarely do though.  In practice they blow through their chores, play a few minutes of Minecraft or Terraria then go play outside or read a book — which is more or less what we wanted them to do in the first place.

  13. j b says:

    On vacation trips, my parents used to sing in two-part harmony, or, my dad did some string bass or tuba part singing "bah, bah, bah". Problem was that he couldn't keep his foot steady when singing those tunes, so the driving tended to be a little bumpy, or what would you call it. We kids enjoyed it nevertheless.

  14. Cheong says:

    They refuse to sing even when you ask them to, anyway.

    In my experience they play games in iPad for a while, then they'll sleep through the rest of car trip when they get tired.

  15. Anonymous Coward says:

    I usually sing *more* when I bring electronics.

  16. John Muller says:

    Slug Bug aka Punch Buggy.

  17. Engywuck says:

    @TheMAZZTer: that's because grownups have some sort of "link" between their motion sensors in the ear and their eyes. The brain constantly compares what you see with what your ears tell you you should see (accelerations and such), and if there's a too large discrepancy you get sick. Which makes sense, because this can happen when you eat something unhealthy. In kids this protection is not yet active, because "nature" assumes that there are adults that wath over those kids. So kids can read while sitting in the backseat of a driving car, be hours on a swing (and walk flawlessly afterwards), spin around for minutes (and think you can spin around with them…) etc.

  18. GWO says:

    Of course, if the kids have (some generic tablet device) with Frozen, or Tangled or some other top notch entertainment, there's no reason that using electronics excludes the trip turning into a joyous sing-a-long..

    Altogether now:

    "Let it go, let it go

    I am one with the wind and sky!!"

  19. Boris says:

    I thought a car trip was just a means of getting from Point A to Point B?

  20. Brian_EE says:

    Maybe I'm being stupid and/or naive, but I've told my kids there will be no electronics on our 10-week journey from New York to Alaska and back next summer. They will be keeping journals and taking photographs of the adventure for a memory book I will get published and bound for each of them.

  21. morlamweb says:

    @Engywuck: I don't think that the motion-sickness effect is unique to adults or children.  In my own life, for instance, I've been able to read for hours on long car trips, plane trips, on boats, trains, whatever, ever since I learned to read.  I'm still that way now as an adult human.  Every couple of months or so my fiancee and I go on a road trip to visit the extended family a couple of states & about 300 miles away.  They drive on the way up because I can use daylight to read books, and I usually do, for the whole drive up.  On the way back, I drive the car, because my fiancee gets motion sickness from reading in the car.  I'm told that they have had motion sickness like that from childhood.

    Also consider the MythBusters: they have done multiple episodes (two that I can recall) that involve motion sickness.  One was a Shark Week special in which Adam got horribly sick due to the motion of their boat while Jamie was fine.  Clearly they're both adult humans, so according to your theory, both of them should have been seasick, but that wasn't the case.  Later they tested the extended MythBusters crew and only Adam Savage was proven to get motion sickness.  There's definitely a lot of variation in humans regarding susceptibility to motion sickness, but I don't think that it correlates with age.

  22. foo says:

    Take them on a ride with Engineer Bob and Charlie the Choo Choo. (age dependent)

  23. Gabe says:

    Brian_EE: I'm going to guess that during a round trip to Alaska you'll probably spend more than a week (close to 200 hours) in a car. What do you expect the kids to do for all that time? I certainly don't know enough songs to fill all that time. Are they going to be taking pictures from the car window and writing in their journals all that time?

    When my mother did that trip with her family, it was before cars had seatbelts. Her father had seatbelts installed so there would be no wrestling in the back of the station wagon among the camping gear. It was also before cars had FM radios (let alone iPods or tape players), and my mother doesn't recall any singing, so there was no music for entertainment. She brought a stack of books to read (good thing she didn't get carsick!), and played the usual highway games of looking for license plates and such.

  24. Mark Y says:

    @GWO: Isn't it "one with the wind and snow", not "sky"?

  25. GregM says:

    "Isn't it "one with the wind and snow", not "sky"?"

    One would think so with all the "let it go" lines, but it actually rhymes with a later line, which is "you'll never see me cry".

  26. GWO says:

    @MarkY and @GregM : Since when are people singing along on a car trip supposed to get the words right!

  27. carbon twelve says:

    After reading this, I sang with my kids in the car — it was excellent.

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