car(photo taken in early 70’s…ignore the cute child up front–that’s me–and check out the car in the background…now, imagine it with 7 people for 2 days of traveling)

I come from a big family and packing for road trips with us meant using up every inch of space, and I’m not just talking about the luggage.  We poured people into every nook and crevice of the car.  The size of our car grew with the size of our family, from 7 of us in total to 12 ultimately, but there was never a day that we had the kind of leg room my children enjoy.

We lived in South Florida and had family we drove to see in upstate New York, so you can only imagine how long we were stuck in the car together. 

Luckily for my parents, seat belts weren’t required at the time, or we wouldn’t have gone anywhere.  For example, my designated seat was at my mom’s feet.  No joke…I sat there on the trip all the way to New York and I was happy about it because my brothers and sisters couldn’t mess with me there.  Sure, it got a little warm sometimes from the heat of the floorboard, but it worked.  My youngest sister got the best seat in the car because she was small enough to stretch out lying down in the back dash—you remember that part of the car that sort of sat over the trunk behind the back seat where the rear window met the metal of the car?  Beyond that spot, the cherished seat was on my dad’s lap, helping him drive.  No joke.  Imagine that happening today!  Even with our designated spots, there were always arguments along the way and lots of “invisible brick walls” to separate us. 

With this many people we were required to pack light and my dad was the master at getting the maximum stuff into the minimum amount of space.  It’s an art I have inherited.  I love having a pile of stuff that everyone else says will never fit sitting outside the trunk, putting each piece in exactly the right spot and making sure there’s room for something else, just in case.  Not everyone can make it fit.  I feel for those folks because I’d hate to have to leave something home that I know I’m going to want on the trip.  Especially if it was one of the kids!  Hey—you can’t throw them on your lap anymore!