According to research done by the insurance firm Endsleigh, almost a third of students list a road trip across North America as their dream destination, no doubt this has been inspired by one of many great road trip movies. Not only do road trip movies show entertaining stories against an ever changing backdrop, but they introduce us to a range of iconic landscapes, and local characters along the way.
Perhaps you daydream about going on one of these road trip adventures as taken by one of your favorite movie stars. There’s no need to just stick to the US (although there are plenty of fantastic car journeys to be taken there), there are inspiration road film settings from all over the world.
Here’s a selection of five great road trip movies, with some top location tips for you to recreate them yourself.
- Sideways – California wineries, USA
Meandering through the sunny Santa Barbara countryside, Sideways (2004) gives a quirky glimpse of this Californian wine region. As the movie’s stars, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) spend the trip guzzling wine, flirting with awkward romances and facing their own inevitable journey into middle age, the audience enjoys the backdrop of the area’s beautiful scenery.
The pair spends the weekend driving along the California coast between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, passing through some key local wineries. Whether you consider yourself a wine buff or not, you can enjoy a fun few days visiting the likes of Foxen Winery in Santa Maria, Kalyra Winery in Santa Ynez and the Firestone Winery and Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard (where Miles discovers his novel won’t be being published, and unwisely tries to guzzle the contents of the spit bucket), both in Los Olivos. Obviously, if you intend to take part in some wine chugging yourself, perhaps you should consider leaving the car and getting a taxi back to your accommodation!
Speaking of accommodation, make sure you include the Days Inn Buellton where the two stay in a quirky windmill, before eating at the Hitching Post II for ostrich steak. The unique town of Solvang is just east of Buellton and is uniquely modelled after an authentic Scandinavian village, thanks to the Danish-Americans who built it back in 1911.Here, Miles and Jack enjoy breakfast at the Solvang Restaurant before taking in a selection of vineyards. The village is also home to the River Course at the Alisal, where Jack and Miles stop in for some golf.
Easily reachable from LA, this area is perfect for enjoying a snapshot of Californian wineries and soaking up some of the mountainous landscapes from behind the wheel. From here you can either head onwards up to San Francisco or return to LA to mingle with the stars.
Top tip – Remember that in America, as with most other countries in the world, the drivers stick to the right side of the road. Check out different countries regulations here to make sure you don’t make any mistakes – especially if you’re spending your days visiting wineries! Bonus tip – use the spit bucket; don’t drink and drive!
- Sightseers – Cumbria and the Lake District, Britain
Whilst the UK doesn’t have the huge stretches of land that make the USA so popular for road trip movies, we have recently been able to enjoy the black comedy tour of the Lake District, Sightseers. The lead characters are Midlands couple Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) who head out in a cherished Abbey Oxford caravan to soak up some of the north of Britain’s top ‘heritage’ spots, including the Keswick Pencil Museum. Oh, and they commit a series of brutal murders along the way.
You may not be a serial killer yourself, but you can certainly pop on your raincoat and enjoy the route taken by the couple as they commit their crimes. They begin by ‘accidentally’ running over a litter bug, following an argument at the Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire, before continuing to take in other key sites like the aforementioned Keswick Pencil Museum.
After winding through beautiful scenery and hiking through some of the lush scenery of rural Britain, the couple wind through the high peaks of Winnats Pass, just west of Castleton, before filming their dramatic final scene by the majestic Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire.
The film gives an amusing take on the stereotypical British caravan holiday, but does little to diminish the beauty of the north of England. The gorgeous landscapes speak for themselves and make an inviting road trip destination; minus the bloodthirsty killing spree.
Top tip – Why not follow in Tina’s footsteps and buy yourself a £24 giant pencil for writing letters home?
- The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – Argentina, Chile, Peru
Tracing the tyre tracks of a young Ernesto Guevara Lynch, better known as Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries movie is based on the memoirs of the Marxist revolutionary. He travels through several South American countries, witnessing social injustices, key sights and stunning scenery as he motorcycles and hitchhikes his way around the continent. It’s thought that this trip is what inspired him to devote his life to fighting for the cause of the poor.
In total, the nine month journey took Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina and west into Chile. Here he heads north, visiting key Chilean cities like Santiago and Valparaiso, taking in a tour of the world’s largest open-pit copper mine in Chuquicamata, which visitors today can still visit on weekdays.
From here the pair hitchhiked towards Lake Titicaca in the Andes of Peru and onwards to Cuzco, home to the famous Machu Picchu ruins. Throughout Peru they travel through Lima and Iquito, volunteered at a leper facility in San Pablo de Loreto and boarded a raft to float along the Amazon River.
These routes in South America are well travelled today, with many good road links for road trippers planning their own Motorcycle Diaries experience. Not only does the story stand as a great starting point for anyone wanting to understand the young revolutionary, but it also gives great insight into the countries he passes through.
Top tip – It’s extremely likely that you’ll face many police checkpoints as you drive through South America. Make sure you have all the necessary papers and documentation for yourself and your vehicle easily available as you drive and you should be fine.
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994) – Australia – Sydney to Alice Springs via Coober Pedy
An Aussie road trip often forms a rite of passage for backpackers and travellers heading to this giant continent. It also formed the basis of cult movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which follows two drag queens, Mitzi Del Bra (Hugo Weaving) and Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce) and transsexual woman Bernadette Bassenger (Terence Stamp), as they make their way from Sydney to Alice Springs in ‘Priscilla’ their glamorous silver school bus.
They start their journey across the Aussie outback from the iconic sights of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge before heading into the hot New South Wales desert. After driving for around 750 miles they stop in an outback mining town called Broken Hill, where they stay in the eccentric Mario’s Palace. Covered in extravagant murals, this is a popular resting point for travellers looking to recreate their own Priscilla experience.
The dragsters’ bus breaks down a few miles further on at the Mundi Mundi Plain Lookout, which serves as a viewpoint of the seemingly never-ending surrounding flat lands. They experience some unwelcome hostility in the town of Coober Pedy, where the land is so inhospitable that many people live in underground homes. They then head to their intended destination of Alice Springs to perform at the Lasseters Hotel Casino before triumphantly climbing to the top of the stunning King’s Canyon as the sun sets.
The journey is easy for road trippers to recreate; and why not take some sequinned headpieces with you so you look suitably fabulous along the way?
Top tip – Each state in Australia acts almost like an individual country, with different rules on what you can take in. If you’re driving with food in the car, there’s a likelihood you’ll need to bin all fresh items and opened preserves before crossing a border. Check with Quarantine Domestic for individual rules.
- Thelma and Louise – Little Rock, Arkansas to Grand Canyon, Arizona
If you’ve ever been keen to drive from Oklahoma to Mexico without cutting though Texas, then you can try the Thelma and Louise route for yourself. After Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) find their trip to the mountains scuppered due to their murder of a violent drunkard, the two agree to make their way across the border to Mexico. However, things don’t go to plan and they end up in a dramatic climax at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Just as the antics from the movie cause our two leading ladies to take the (very) long route to Mexico, so too can road trippers today drive the lengthy journey themselves. For anyone looking to tie on their headscarves and make like T and L, you’ll need to start out in the wet green landscapes of Little Rock Arkansas (which was actually filmed just north of Los Angeles, around Gorman).
From there you can head through Oklahoma City, taking the long route to Mexico via Colarado, stopping off at the Bedrock General Store at Unaweep Canyon to call the FBI, or just to soak up the impressive scenery of the surrounding canyons that cut through the Uncompahgre Plateau. The dry New Mexico desert will stretch ahead until you greet the majestic Grand Canyon – one of the great seven natural wonders of the world.
Top tip – If you really want to get to the Mexico border from Oklahoma City, definitely drive through Texas, no matter what your history may be there.
About the Author: Laura Wilkins is not only a keen traveller, but also works in the travel industry. In between her many overseas visits, she has written destination and advice pieces for a range of online publications including BabyWorld, dGeneralist, AOL and Yahoo.
Photo Source: Google Commons