Whether you’re prepping for your first cross-country road trip or are looking to reminisce about that one time you went on the adventure of your life with a few friends in an old Chevy, the best road trip movie can certainly help bring back or kickstart some memories.
People go on road trips for various reasons. And, in film, they do so for even more varied reasons. Whether they’re on the run after a huge heist or are taking an emotional life-changing journey as part of a coming-of-age story, the stories behind the best road trip movies are enchanting and alluring.
Discover the open road long before you even start the car with our top seven contenders for the best road trip movie of all-time. Think we missed one of your favourites? Drop a comment and let us know.
Best Road Trip Movie
The best road trip movie ever? Easily Easy Rider. Okay, it was at least one of the first. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper starred in this classic road trip movie that’s all about exploring the open road in search of “true” America. On the back of a few Harleys, the pair explores everything that personified the 1960s: communes, LSD and lots and lots of marijuana. Watch for a young Jack Nicholson and get inspired to hop on that motorcycle for a cross-country adventure.
If you know the real story of Bonnie and Clyde then you’ll be thankful that, despite its violence, Bonnie & Clyde doesn’t take things too far. The 1960s classic follows the young duo as they embark on a cross-country spree of murder, crime and pure savagery. The high-intensity movie ends in a climactic final scene that’s become one of the most iconic scenes in movie history since. Don’t model your road trip after this film, but definitely do enjoy the wild ride it takes you on.
Clark Griswold was and still is, the most iconic American dad ever to grace the silver screen. Accident-prone and with his eyes set on Wally World, the movie follows as Clark takes his family on a road trip through two national parks. The movie, at least back in the 80s, portrayed the woes of American family road trips pretty perfectly. While things aren’t quite the same now, it’s still a great watch.
Looking for the best road trip movie to watch when you’re in the mood for a light-hearted laugh? Dumb & Dumber is a classic. Dumb duo Harry and Lloyd head out in a sheepdog-style truck as they try to return a briefcase to a woman in Aspen, Colorado. The road trip, of course, doesn’t go even slightly according to plans. Watching this movie will make you thankful that, even if you had the worst road trip of your life, it probably wasn’t this bad. That is unless you also ended up driving down the road on a 50cc scooter with frozen snot on your face.
There are few road trip movies that are more iconic than The Motorcycle Diaries. The story follows a young Ernesto Guevara (yes, the ‘Che’) and his friend on an 8,000-mile journey across South America. Making their way from Argentina to Peru on the back of a beat-up bike, the story is one of discovery, both of self and the world around them. Watch as Che sees things on the trip that eventually inspire his future principles as a freedom fighter.
Even if you don’t think it’s the best, Little Miss Sunshine is easily one of the most dysfunctional road trip movies you’ll ever see. Various eccentric, wacky, far-out family members pile into a beat-up old VW bus for this road trip movie, which includes lots of memorable quotes and heart-wrenching scenes. Road trip theme aside, the movie is fantastic from a cinematic standpoint. But, the wacky interstate adventure that ensues is a riot to watch, too.
Okay, so we’ll start off by admitting that the movie is nowhere near as the Jack Kerouac book of the same name. However, if you’re looking to skip a few days of reading then watching On the Road is the next best thing to the original story. Kerouac inspired a generation of travellers with his 1957 novel. The story deals with the struggle to retain the freedom of the American dream, which is pretty relevant even in modern times. If you’re planning a road trip across America, this is a must-watch and then a must-read (or vice versa).