10 movies to inspire your next road trip

April 8, 2020

10 movies to inspire your next road trip

Road trips are my all-time favourite way to travel. Right from the get-go, you have control of where you’re going, what you’ll see, and how long it will take. Sure, things often change en route, maybe you get a recommendation by someone you meet, or a roadside sign catches your eye, but that’s the beauty of it! Not to mention you see so much more than if you were staying in one place for two weeks, of course I love that too because you get to know the heart and soul of that place, but there’s something so euphoric about checking off so many places you’ve been dying to see. Plus, you get quality time with whoever you are sharing this journey with! Not every road trip is smooth as these films will show; sometimes there’s car troubles, detours, traffic and closures. Maybe your accommodation sucks one night, maybe the only food available for hours was a bit iffy and maybe you have a massive blow up with the person sharing the driving time… but one thing is for sure: every road trip is a lesson in life and these road trip themed movies all have one to teach! 

At this time we are all working through a worldwide pandemic-induced isolation period. I for one am desperate to get lost in a journey, especially as I can’t go on my own at the moment, so I’ve put together a list of 10 films that will inspire your next road trip when we can get out on them again.

1. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Directed by Stephan Elliot

Written by Stephan Elliot

Starring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terrence Stamp.

Road trip route 

Sydney to Alice Springs, Australia.

Plot

A couple of drag performers and a transgender woman take their cabaret show on the road and embark upon a road trip across the Australian Outback all the way from Sydney to Alice Springs in a bus they name Priscilla.

Trailer published by Movie Clips Classic Trailers.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a lesson in resilience, acceptance and self-love. These fantastically eccentric characters teach us to open our minds, hearts and to be our best selves. If you’re not standing on top of a pink bus, dressed head to toe in sequins whilst miming along to an iconic aria on your next road trip then, quite clearly, you’re doing something wrong!

PFH Fun Fact: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has since been transformed into a stage musical which has been performed all around the world.

2. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring Steve Martin and John Candy

Road trip route 

New York City to Chicago, USA.

Plot

Due to bad weather, Neal Page’s (Steve Martin) flight home gets diverted. Desperate to get home for Thanksgiving, he embarks upon a long and complicated journey alongside Del Griffith (John Candy) who is heading in the same direction.

Trailer published by YouTube Movies.

This 80s classic is the OG comically-awkward-and-disaster-prone-road-trip-with-a-complete-stranger movie. Its lesson is in friendship and how it can develop in the most unlikely circumstances but also maybe do yourself a favour and don’t embark upon a very long journey with a stranger who makes you feel uncomfortable!

PFH Fun Fact: Planes, Trains and automobiles was inspired by the director’s very own misadventure from New York City to Chicago.

3. The Blues Brothers (1980)

Directed by John Landis

Written by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles

Road trip route

All around Chicago, USA.

Plot:

After being released from prison, Jake Blues (John Belushi) decides to put his old band back together with the help of his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), to save the Catholic orphanage where the bothers grew up.

Trailer published by Movieclips Classic Trailers.

This cult classic has been adored by generations and that is no doubt thanks to its timeless musicality performed by industry legends. It’s completely outrageous and unrealistic but done in such a fantastic way that you don’t remember it for its ridiculous mishaps but instead for the musical reconciliations. This road trip teaches us not to ignore the calling to get on the road to make something happen for the greater good!

PFH Fun Fact: Blues Brothers set a world record for the most amount of cars wrecked on set: 103.

4. Due Date (2010)

Directed by Todd Phillips 

Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel and Tod Phillips

Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifianakis

Road trip route

Atlanta to Los Angeles, USA.

Plot

After getting kicked off his flight without any of his personal belongings, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) has no choice but to hitch a ride with eccentric Ethan Tremblay (Zack Galifianakis) in an attempt to get home to his pregnant wife.

Trailer published by Hollywoodstreams.

It’s basically a modern day re-hash of Plane, Trains and Automobiles but as all Zack Galifianakis movies are, the humour is a little more crass. It’s no critically acclaimed masterpiece but it’s a fun watch and an especially good example of why you should NEVER put your wallet and passport in the backseat pocket on an aeroplane!

5. Rain Man (1988)

Directed by Barry Levinson

Written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass

Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise

Road trip route

Cincinnati to Los Angeles, USA.

Plot

Entitled and selfish Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns of his long-lost brother, Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), when he finds out that Raymond is who his estranged father has left his multi-million dollar fortune to. Upon realising his brother is autistic savant, with little understanding of money, he kidnaps him in an attempt to gain the fortune for himself.

Trailer published by Movieclips Classic Trailers.

Rain Man is a heartwarming story of two brothers living polar opposite lifestyles reuniting. We learn to appreciate what makes us unique and that it is the bonds we make in life than is far more valuable than money ever could be.

PFH Fun Fact: Rain Man won four Oscars at the 1989 61st Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Hoffman).

6. We’re the Millers (2013)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Written by Rob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders and John Morris

Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Anniston and Emma Roberts

Road trip route

Denver, USA to Mexico.

Plot

A middle-aged drug dealer’s boss forces him to smuggle two tons of marijuana across the border to Mexico. As a cover he hires a stripper, runaway and his neighbour’s son to play his family on  “vacation” in an RV.

Trailer published by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Somehow a pretty dark topic of drug trafficking becomes a light hearted comedy as this bunch of misfits navigate family-life on the road. We’re the Millers shows us that family is formed from acceptance and a place of belonging and not necessarily by blood.

PFH Fun Fact: The cast and crew played a prank on Jennifer Anniston which can be seen in the bloopers at the end of the movie.

7. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Written by Michael Arndt 

Starring Steve Carell, Toni Colette, Grey Kinnear and Abigail Breslin

Road trip route

Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, USA 

Plot:

A dysfunctional and emotionally exhausted family of six pile into a yellow VW camper van and embark upon a road trip from their home in Albuquerque to Redondo Beach where the youngest member, Olive (Abigail Breslin), has the opportunity to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

Trailer published by BigBeachFilms.

It’s hard not to find six-year old Olive’s innocence and pluckiness, despite everything going on around her with her family’s antics, completely endearing. The Hoover family’s mishaps on the road shows us how support, compassion and camaraderie goes a long way. 

8. Thelma and Louise (1991)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by Callie Khouri

Starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis

Road trip route

Oklahoma to Arizona, USA.

Plot:

Best friends, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), decide to breakaway from their disappointing lives and repressive relationships, but when one crime leads to another they find themselves on the run rather than the road to freedom. 

Trailer published by MGM.

Thelma and Louise has without a doubt one of the most dramatic endings in cinematic history and no matter how crazy it is, it’s hard not to appreciate its pure beauty and testament to unconditional friendship. Ok so it’s definitely not the road trip any of us want, but boy does it make me want to wrap my hair up in a headscarf, pop the roof down on a classic convertible and drive with no particular destination in mind!

PFH Fun Fact: Thelma and Louise was nominated for six Academy Awards and won Best Original Screenplay.

9. The Guilt Trip (2012)

Directed by Anne Fletcher

Written by Dan Fogelman

Starring Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen

Road trip route

New York City to Las Vegas, USA

Plot:

Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is taking his environmentally friendly cleaning product on the road when making a stop at Mum’s (Barbara Streisand) house in New Jersey leads to her joining him on a road trip where she drives him crazy.

Trailer published by Movieclips Trailers.

A comedic love/hate relationship of a mother and son duo might be enough to convince you that maybe your mother is your ultimate road trip buddy? After all, a road trip is a great way to get to know someone better than ever before.

PFH Fun Fact: Dan Fogelman based the film on a road trip he took from New Jersey to Las Vegas with his own mother, Joyce.

10. Paul (2011)

Directed by Greg Mottola

Written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and the voice of Seth Rogen

Road trip route

San Diego to Crook County

Plot:

Two English sci-fi nerds travel to the USA to go to the San Diego Comic Con and then embark upon a road trip in Winnebago through the southwestern states to visit all of the legendary UFO sites. Outside Area 51 they encounter an Alien who sends them on an adventure that’s out of this world.

Trailer published by YouTube Movies.

In my opinion Paul is the funniest film on this list! I never thought I would be interested in basing a road trip around Alien fanfare but Pegg and Frost sure know how to make it look like a blast! Paul teaches us to take an open mind on every road trip because you never know what you’re going to discover out on the open road.

PFH Fun Fact: Pegg and Frost made this movie as tribute to Steven Spielberg’s science fiction classics.

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As all good road trip movies do, each one of these represent a journey to self discovery. So, what will yours be?

Inspired? Then check out my road trip packing guide for everything you need for a comfortable road trip.

Aloha, Gabriella

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