‘I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake’. So said Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. He made a good point – often the joy of traveling is not arriving somewhere, but in the journey itself. It’s having the soft top down, the wind combing your hair, and the open road ahead of you. And with all that endlessly shifting scenery, road trips have inspired some rollicking good movies. From motorcycle rides along South American B-roads to hitchhiking adventures in Alaska, here are some of the best.
1. Darjeeling Limited
Transport yourself instantly to the golden deserts of Rajasthan with this Wes Anderson gem. You’re onboard a riotous train ride with three estranged brothers on a journey of reconciliation. Shot in and around Jodphur – the blue city – Darjeeling Limited is a one-way ticket to some fantastically exotic locations. Watching Adrien Brody and co roaring through the desert on a motorbike, it’s hard not to get itchy feet.
2. Almost Famous
Being on the road – that’s a memorable experience. But being on the road with a band? That’s every aspiring musician’s dream. In this coming-of-age classic, we follow a teenage journalist from San Diego on tour with fictitious band Stillwater. Yet, forget the cool leather jackets. This is for anyone who has ever wanted to hit the open highways of the States. Everyone’s invited on the tour bus in this light-hearted romp.
3. Into the Wild
Make sure to have a pack of tissues at the ready – this ain’t a walk in the park. Rather, it’s an immersive voyage of discovery in the Alaskan wilderness. It’s based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, who gave up his possessions to hitchhike into the unknown. While traveling like that isn’t for everybody, you’re sure to be moved – at least emotionally – by his plight.
4. Motorcycle Diaries
The image of revolutionary Che Guevara emblazoned on t-shirts worldwide is iconic. But in his early days, Che was just a footloose explorer traveling the backroads of South America by motorbike. This rip-roaring epic is a bumpy ride through the foothills of Argentina to the soaring Inca Trail. While he witnessed terrible injustices en route, the movie also makes one thing clear: he had some fantastic adventures.
5. Withnail and I
Two out-of-work actors trudging through mud in the Northern English countryside. Doesn’t sound like the basis for your average road trip movie, does it? Yet this laugh-out-loud comedy has become a cult classic. The poetry of the razor-sharp script is mirrored by the poetic landscape of the Lake District. Anyone who has been on a disastrous journey — this story of a hapless holiday is for you.
6. Little Miss Sunshine
An 800-mile road trip in a vintage Volkswagen van is many travelers’ idea of a dream come true. Yet packed in with a dysfunctional family on a cross-country drive, it might be less appealing. Especially if you had two days to get to Redondo Beach for your daughter’s beauty pageant. An unlikely scenario, granted. But it certainly makes Little Miss Sunshine entertaining viewing.
7. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
‘A Savage Journey to the heart of the American Dream’. Yep, the full title of the novel that inspired the movie says it all. Yet among the wild hotel stays in Las Vegas, it’s also a psychedelic exploration of 1960s counterculture. Jump in the backseat of a rented Chevrolet convertible as you speed across the Nevada desert. All from the comfort of your armchair, of course.
8. Everything is Illuminated
The line between comedy and moving drama is a difficult road to navigate in itself. Yet this compelling story of a Jewish-American man reconnecting with his Eastern- European roots nails it. Watching him travel in a beat-up car through the Ukrainian countryside is enjoyable enough. But throw in a translator with dubious English and a deranged dog, and this becomes one heck of a road trip.