For those lucky enough to have traveled the globe for a large part of our adult lives, we tend to forget the closer-to-home family vacations of our childhood. But once the US hit pause - and that is the nicest way I can describe it - we at Earle Travel began to remember those bygone trips and share our fond memories of simpler times…
If you lived out West back in the day, your annual summer vacation likely meant a cruise down Route 66 or a visit to the Grand Canyon. But for us Midwesterners, a 1960s family vacation meant one thing and one thing only… Florida, here we come!
Ah, the 60s… the cars were big and the gas was cheap. We were a Chevrolet family, personally, and the old Impala had ample room for two kids, two parents, one set of grandparents, and literally everything but the kitchen sink… There was no packing light for two weeks in the Sunshine State. (I can’t help but think of the sheer discipline it takes to prepare for a modern vacation! Just one bag, a small carry-on, the oh-so-inconvenient 3 oz. liquids and the inevitable shoe triage to determine which of the seven pairs I have laid out get to make the trip… sigh).
But not so when the family truckster was your mode of transportation. We could bring it all: flips flops, floaties, beach towels, beach chairs, beach toys, and coolers overflowing with any manner of treat a kid could want. I guess we didn’t think Florida had adequate grocery stores?
Sarasota was our beach town of choice, and in those pre-interstate days, it was a full two-day drive. We liked to make it past Atlanta on day one, which meant there was no time to dally. I still remember my dad topping 100 MPH to pass a camper van while cursing their existence. The barns of Tennessee blipped by quicker than you could say ‘See Rock City!’. We had a schedule to keep, after all! About the only thing that could interrupt our strict schedule was a quick pit stop at Stuckey’s for one of their famous Pecan Logs.
As the city came into view, it was time to look for the night’s accommodations. Motels were plentiful, but our lodging HAD to have a pool (I may have been six, but I already had high standards). With luck, the orange roof of a Howard Johnson’s would appear just in time. That meant a quick dip in the pool for the kids and then a great meal under the aforementioned orange roof. Forget “28 Flavors”; fried clam strips for all!
An early rise meant a quick trip to Waffle House for pecan waffles (when in Georgia!) before hitting the road again to make it to the beach by dinnertime. The vacation days in Florida were lazy and unstructured. There was no Disney World or Sea World, just beautiful white sand beaches and family. While times certainly have changed, there is nothing quite like the simple joy of quality time with family.
As we continued to trade stories around the office, we could not help but wonder if the passion for travel all of us at Earle Travel share may have started in the back seat on a family road trip.