Road trip movies are a popular Hollywood trope, and really, what’s not to like? Get a group of likable characters, stuff them in a car, bus or Winnebago, and watch their interpersonal relationships unravel as hours of proximity exposes the rifts between them.
In addition to entertainment, these four classic road trip movies provide lessons you can apply to your day-to-day dealings with your own car. As long as you don’t take things too seriously, you can tap into this cinematic wisdom and be prepared for whatever the road throws at you.
1. ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’
Not all road trips go according to plan, especially in the movies. This classic hit from the ’80s stars John Candy and Steve Martin, and if there’s one lesson about cars to take away, it’s that you should always, always, always get the full insurance when you rent a vehicle. Sure, there’s a chance you won’t set your rental on fire after falling asleep on the highway and then be forced to drive the charred wreck back to town in a major snowstorm — but there’s also a chance you will.
2. ‘Smokey and the Bandit’
If you’re going to drive cross-country with valuable cargo, it’s nice to have a buddy ahead of you in an ultra-flashy muscle car. Burt Reynolds proved to us that the easiest way to solve the “long way to go, short time to get there” problem was to travel with a buddy, preferably in a Trans Am. You never know when you might need help, especially if you are traveling across long stretches out west.
What started out as a simple commute turned into the world’s worst road trip in Steven Spielberg’s 1971 movie, “Duel.” Although it was filmed 40 years ago, the lessons in the flick still hold true today in a world where road rage can be lethal. Regardless of whether you’ve been cut off, honked at or otherwise disrespected on the highway, it’s always best to just let it go and keep driving. Especially if there’s a homicidal truck driver on your tail.
4. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’
If there’s one lesson that most road trip movies teach, it’s to always be prepared. The post-apocalyptic desert in “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the very definition of an unforgiving environment where you need to bring all the extra gas, water and ammunition you can pack if you want to survive. Of course, the veneer of civilization allows you to replace “ammunition” with “beef jerky” if you so desire, but it’s still sound advice.
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