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Jamie Gibbs

Things that defined British road trips in the 90s

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Boiled sweets, cigarette smoke and musical atrocities – a feast for all the senses.

We’re all partial to a bit of nostalgia, a bit of it was better back in my day. But were those family trips to a rain-sodden caravan park in an uncomfortable Ford Mondeo really as good as you remember? Of course they were, and here are a few reasons why.

1. Little Chef, when it was still good 

 little chef

Forget your Costa and keep your KFCs - the pancake stacks and Olympic Breakfast at Little Chef used to be worth a trip in their own right.

2. Those same three cassette tapes

 cassette

Maybe you were lucky enough to have some Queen or Beatles greatest hits in the collection. The reality is that they were probably Robson & Jerome and Simply Red albums, along with some sort of poorly-recorded tape of radio recordings from home.

3. Getting lost. I mean, proper lost 

lost car

Fancy your chances going off-map? You maverick, you rogue. Oh look, now you're stuck down a one-way dirt track somewhere near the B1190 and your petrol light has come on. Never think you're better than the map. Never! 

4. Mints and boiled sweets

a boiled sweet

Before the gelatine joy of Haribo and Maoams came into our lives, we had to make do with crunching down on some of the most boring sweets known to mankind during those long arduous car journeys. 

5. Crackling local radio

radio tuning

KCCCCCHHHH KCCCCHHHH “Welcome to Anglia FM – up next, the agricultural news.” Thank goodness digital radio was on its way to save us. In the meantime we could always rely on cassettes as our saviour.  

6. A-Zs and road maps

confusing map

Sat nav, how do we love thee? No more squinting at tiny A roads, tracing your routes across worn folds or trying to recover that pesky missing page. 

7. Smoking in the car

smoking in the car

Sure, you can still smoke in your car now. But back then cars were smokier than an 80s pop video! Egg sandwiches and cigarettes - cars back then must have hummed something chronic.

8. The chaos of the back seat

chaos in the back seat

Aside from the safety aspect, this was annoying as hell if you were a parent in the front trying to control your unruly kids. And if you were a sibling, the back seat was the place where turf wars were fought and won – for stretching and sleeping.

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