Road trips are the perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation. They’re all about initiating cruise control, taking in the scenery, and truly appreciating the journey. Whether you’re by yourself or with a group, a road trip can be magical.
But what’s not magical is when the driver’s seat spontaneously spins around as you speed down the highway. And that’s exactly what happens in the soon-to-be-released movie Vacation. In this sequel to 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, grown-up Rusty Griswold schleps his family on what he expects will be an unforgettable road trip to Walley World. “Shocking” spoiler alert: things don’t go as planned.
If you’re feeling like you need even more road trip entertainment, these 7 flicks can soothe your longing for (vicarious) adventure.
7 must-see road trip movies
1. Badlands (1973)
Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek star as 2 criminals on the run through South Dakota and Montana. The story is rumored to be roughly based on a 1958 killing spree that occurred across rural towns in Nebraska. Does the Tinseltown tale end with a high-speed chase and shoot-out, just as it did in real life? You’ll have to watch to find out.
2. Paper Moon (1973)
Set during the Great Depression, this film follows unlikely co-travelers Moses Pray and 9-year-old Addie Loggins. After Addie’s mother passes away, Moses agrees to drive her to Missouri to live with her aunt. At first considered a burden, Addie proves helpful in carrying out his con-artist schemes. Along the way, Addie insists that Moses is actually her father. Tatum O’Neal, who played the role of Addie, won an Academy Award for Supporting Actress in 1974. Tatum’s real-life father Ryan O’Neal played her maybe-father in the film.
3. Fandango (1985)
This film depicts 5 college seniors on an epic “bromance” expedition, taking their shenanigans to Mexico. The film was set in 1971, before the Vietnam War ended, and some of these young men had just received draft letters. The story captures the impending doom of postcollege life through a reflective and hilarious lens.
4. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
This dramedy follows 3 drag show performers as they literally “take their show on the road” in a purple bus named Priscilla. As you’d expect, their road trip from Sydney to a rural town in Australia sets the tone for humor (along with insightful moments). The film won an Oscar for best costumes, naturally.
5. The Go-Getter (2007)
It’s the classic tale of boy’s mother dies, boy steals car, boy talks to car’s owner using a cell phone left in the car. Okay, maybe not so classic. But that’s what indie movies are for, right? The plot centers around a teenager on a quest to find his estranged brother. Viewers can expect a quirky string of humorous mishaps along the way.
6. The Lucky Ones (2008)
In this movie, 3 injured soldiers return home after their tours of duty. When their flights are canceled, they decide to share a rental car to St. Louis, Missouri. Their road trip turns into an inspirational journey involving a tornado, a car accident, and the emotional struggles of living life postwar. Rachel McAdams, Michael Peña, and Tim Robbins star in this film that speaks to the true power of a road trip.
7. Road to Paloma (2014)
I’d be remiss to leave out a motorcycle trip. A Native American named Wolf is on his way to the Teton Range with his mother’s ashes in tow. Oh, and he’s also on the run from the FBI. Jason Momoa (from Game of Thrones) directs and stars in this rough ‘n tough journey of violence and redemption.
Road trips always make for great stories. What road trip movies have we forgotten? Leave your vote in the comments section below.