Arguably the biggest inspiration for most of us when we go on a road trip is the movies. You look at the vast open landscapes of Route 66, or the “grand” spectacle that is the Grand Canyon, these sights can inspire us to pack up our lives and our jobs, and get on the road. But, is this all we need to know about living life on the road? If movies have taught us anything, is that something inevitably goes wrong during these trips. So what are the best road trip movies to learn about life on the road?
Not a road trip movie per se, but it’s is worth mentioning. Steven Spielberg’s first movie, is very harrowing, at every turn in the road. A salesman (Dennis Weaver) is traveling through the California desert, being followed by a truck. As the man’s journey descends into a nightmare and being refused help at every turn, he is forced to fight this, seemingly driverless, truck, face on. This movie is a precursor to Jaws, and very suspenseful, and if anything, it teaches us to be aware of our surroundings that little bit more. Being on the road isn’t always a joyous journey. And you will meet people that are not inclined to help you. But this isn’t always the case.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
This classic 1987 comedy, starring Steve Martin and John Candy, as two people thrown together on a breakneck journey to get home for Thanksgiving, takes many twists and turns, not least with unpredictable cars, and near disasters on a never-ending basis! The expletive-rideen scene with Steve Martin’s character demanding a “BLEEP-ing car, right BLEEP-ing now” has to go down as one of the funniest scenes in comedy. But the moral of this story is you need a car that will get you from A to B safely and securely. A road trip is a wondrous thing, as long as you have a car you can rely on. So picking something like a Subaru Impreza over a Mini Metro is going to make your journey that little bit more comfortable, but is something that needs very little maintenance. Granted, most modern cars need little maintenance now, but you can’t be too careful, especially when you are driving hundreds and hundreds of miles.
On The Road
This adaptation of the classic Jack Kerouac novel inspired millions of beatniks to pack up and head out, perhaps never to return. This is a movie about friendship, making ends meet, and music, lots of music! The lesson to be learnt from this is that you need to pick a travelling buddy that you can go the distance with. Pick the wrong person, and you’ve got problems, stress, and thousands of miles of arguing. If you can’t pick the right person whose company you will never tire of, then at least planning journeys to allows some downtime for the two of you, but have plenty of in-car entertainment. While traversing the highways and byways of the world is awe-inspiring, sometimes you’re going to be too tired to function, so you need something to keep you motivated. Music is a perfect addition to any car; just make sure you both have the same taste!
Much a story about two middle-aged men going through their own individual crises, as it is about wine, Sideways offers a unique perspective on the standard American road trip. As these two characters, a school teacher (cum wannabe writer), and part-time actor (cum wannabe lothario) go around California’s wine country prior to the wedding of the latter, the personal problems they find themselves in, means that they lean heavily on each other to get themselves out of emotional turmoil. The moral of this is that you need someone you can trust implicitly. Whether they get along with each other or not all the time is irrelevant, but you are going to be exploring new horizons, learning how to do things for the first time, and venturing into uncharted territory, emotionally and physically. So you need someone that is going to be with you every step of the way, no matter how many problems hit the fan. If you don’t hit the road with someone you don’t trust, or you are going to have a very rude awakening!
It had to end with this! The first, and, arguably, best road movie of all time, Easy Rider is all about the journey. The two main characters are free spirits, and embark on a journey from Los Angeles to New Orleans by motorcycle, to get there in time for Mardi Gras. Along the way anything and everything happens. Despite the tragic ending, the moral of this movie is the journey. If you don’t enjoy the journey, and take in everything as you go, it’s going to be a worthless pursuit. Open yourself up to new experiences, go with the flow, and understand that you are on a quest, not just to learn about these new eye-opening places, but about yourself. And as a hippie-esque as that sounds, that’s part of the reason you wanted to go on a road trip in the first place! Easy Rider is the quintessential road movie, but it’s also a movie about the end of the 60s, where the hippie ideals paved the way for the cynical 70s. In the modern day, it’s impossible to truly recapture the 60s for its open road ideals. That’s the important lesson to take away is that you shouldn’t be reticent about any part of your journey. Be open, ready to absorb the wonders of the road.
Road trips and experiences is where you learn about yourself, about new places, but also how to live free from worry. It can be a task to undertake, but watch these movies, and learn from their mistakes. Take on board the positives from these movies, and you’ve got yourself a road trip that you will never forget.