Real Talk

The best road trip movies for travel buddies

'You may not find a path, but you will find a way' - Tom Wolfe

When you think of the best road trip movies, does the final destination linger in your memory the most? If you’re like me, it’s the budding friendships, sibling rivalries, bromances and everything else that make the film tick. You really root for the characters. 

Suddenly, the mysterious location of hidden treasure doesn’t seem as important anymore – we simply want the adventure to continue. Friendships blossoming, drama unfolding, and the wheels ever-turning: here are our all-time favourite road trip movies for travel buddies.

 

1. Uncharted (2022)

What’s the road trip? A globe-trotting mission across New York, Barcelona, and Bangkok, to find the lost city of El Dorado…

Have you heard Sony’s new blockbuster film is coming out in cinemas this February? Anyone who’s played the popular game series of the same name will know: Uncharted is sending a super cute bromance our way! 

That would be between treasure hunters, Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and long-time mentor, Victor (Mark Wahlberg). Searching for the land of El Dorado, the duo dodge enemies and swing on chandeliers – but it’s never too long before they share a little joke and chuckle along the way. 

If you didn’t think Tom could get any more adorable in Spiderman (or if you just love adventure movies about hidden treasure), Uncharted is definitely for you. And seeing as the Nathan Drake game series spanned multiple parts, we might be treated to a cheeky Sony trilogy, which are always worth the cinema trip (or three..) But as the best road trip movies tell us: let’s keep it moving. Onwards, number two!

 

 

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2. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

What’s the road trip? A dysfunctional family set off on a rambunctious journey from Albuquerque to California… in a VW that could fall apart at any second.

How could we leave this coming-of-age, feel-good classic out of the bunch? When it comes to travel movies, this one is great for comedy and unexpected moments, following the Hoovers on a super long journey as they try to get their daughter to a prestigious beauty pageant. 

The film won an Oscar for best screenplay, so as you’d expect, the writing is just as hilarious as it is heart-breaking. Oh, and did I mention the final scene is an iconic musical interpretation of ‘Super Freak’ by Rick James? Get your DVD player plugged in, NOW!

 

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3. The Darjeeling Limited (2003)

Where’s the road trip? A trip through India on the Darjeeling Limited, a fictional express train…

One of Wes Anderson’s first and most revered films, The Darjeeling Limited is a situational comedy and coming of age drama all at once. In classic Anderson style, the cast is glittering with stars, including a much-younger Owen Wilson (wooooow….) 

Three estranged brothers attempt to bond on a trip to India that no one really wanted to take but were obliged to, after the accidental death of their father. While the brothers are awkward and quarrel with each other, they grow closer as the film progresses. Whether or not they want to strangle each other, the brothers have to work together in super critical moments of their journey.

At the end of it all, they’re travel buddies and better brothers for it. Expect stunning visuals of the Indian countryside and an escapist experience with this one. 

 

 

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4. Stand By Me (1986)

What’s the road trip? 4 boys take a dangerous but transformative journey through the Oregon countryside to see a dead body… 

Stand By Me follows best friends Gordie, Vern, Chris, and Teddy as they journey through the United States alone. Danger is everywhere, but a feel-good vibe prevails through most of the film, set off by Ben E King’s iconic anthem ‘Stand By Me’, popularised partly by this movie. 

Along the way, there are older bullies, a swamp of leeches, a run-in with a train, plus the scrap metal guy and his really scary dog. I still shiver in my boots at the words, “sick ‘em, boy!” 

But it’s these perilous moments that make this film so incredibly watchable; with tremendous social class commentary, as the boys bond and we learn about their disparate situations at home. WARNING: The train scene on the bridge might make you s**t yourself…

5. Easy Rider (1969)

What’s the road trip? A motorcycle romp from L.A to New Orleans, down the iconic road that told the story of America: Route 66.

 

 

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Another classic, incoming. This road flick from the 60’s follows two hippy bikers, Wyatt and Billy, as they ride through America to the Mardi Gras carnival. Sleeping outdoors and meeting all sorts of interesting people living alternative lifestyles along the way, the men learn more about themselves, and each other. 

When the film was first released, bikers were disregarded in America as dangerous youths and criminals. Easy Rider showed audiences this softer, more sensitive portrayal of the ‘hairy bikers’, Hell’s Angel stereotype. The men seem genuinely hurt when they’re stared down in public by onlookers who hate their hippie style (or perhaps what it represented). 

In any case, Easy Rider is one of the earliest ‘bromance films’ I’ve heard of. It’s a great watch if you’re interested in the cultural shift of the 60’s and the rise of alternative culture. 

Ready to chart your own adventure? Check out Contiki’s dreamy road trip and travel experiences today!

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