If your next family vacation in the car, requires some in-seat entertainment, watch one of these road trip movies on a tablet or portable DVD player (yes, they still exist!). Or go on the adventure of a lifetime without ever leaving your couch! Sometimes we like to travel from the comfort of our own homes, and road trip movies make that both possible and enjoyable. Plus, you don’t have the kids asking “are we nearly there yet?”! From old-school movies that you probably watched as a kid to modern day animations, these 11 road trip movies will make you laugh, cry and inspire you to book your next family vacation!
1. National Lampoon’s Vacation
The king of road trip movies has to be National Lampoon’s Vacation. This cross-country caper starring Chevy Chase might look a little dated, but it’s as funny today as it was when it first came out in 1983. In this movie, the Griswold family, led by an ever-optimistic Clark and his long-suffering wife, Ellen, decide to drive from Chicago to California to visit Walley World. No sooner do they hit the road in their station wagon when disaster strikes. They get lost, they pick up an extra passenger (Aunt Edna and her dog), there’s a robbery and, when they finally arrive at the fabled theme park, it’s closed.
2. Finding Nemo
The best road trip movie that has nothing to do with cars has to be Finding Nemo. This Disney Pixar movie about the young clownfish Nemo and his sidekick, Dory, is a heart-warming and funny adventure movie underwater. Nemo escapes from the dentist’s aquarium, battles the open ocean, encounters many a dangerous sea creature—and plenty of friendly ones, too—and is eventually reunited with his dad. It’s a wonderful tale of friendship and believing in yourself.
3. Little Miss Sunshine
Undoubtedly one of the best road trip movies on Amazon Prime is Little Miss Sunshine. The story focuses on seven-year-old Olive and her dream of winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. In order to make this dream come true, her dysfunctional family sets off in an old VW van on a road trip from Albuquerque to California. Misadventures and mishaps take place along the way, largely owing to the families own quirks and neuroses. It’s sad, it’s funny and will ultimately make you realize the importance of family—even if they drive you crazy sometimes.
4. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Another oldie but goodie road trip movie is the 1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Led by Steve Martin and John Candy, this movie follows the trials and tribulations of advertising executive Neal Page, who’s trying to fly home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Unfortunately, a sudden snowstorm forces his plane to land in Wichita. This results in a three-day road trip with Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman who appears, initially, to be the worst kind of travel companion.
5. The Muppet Movie
When Kermit is approached by a talent scout, he dreams of making it big in Hollywood and sets off to seek fame, fortune and the chance to make “millions of people happy.” No sooner does our froggy friend leave his Florida swamp, however, when he is pursued by Doc Hopper, who wants him to be a spokesperson for the fried frog legs at his restaurant chain. Along the way, Kermit meets Fozzie, Gonzo and Miss Piggy, who help him escape Doc Hopper’s clutches and eventually make it to Hollywood. The Muppet Movie is a fun, family-friendly road trip movie that will have everyone laughing out loud.
6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
If only every real-life road trip could be in a car like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This wonderful tale of the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and his incredible flying car is still a popular road trip movie today, even more than half a century after it was first released. At a seaside picnic one day, Potts tells his two children a fanciful tale of a far-off land, ruled by the evil Baron Bomburst. Off the family go in their magical flying—and self-driving—car to save their grandfather from the tyrannical leader of the fictional land, Vulgaria.
7. Cars 2
Some people might argue that Cars 2 is not as good as the first movie, but we say this cartoon adventure is excellent, and one of the best road trip movies around. In this escapade, Lightning McQueen and his tow-truck buddy, Mater, head overseas for the first-ever World Grand Prix. While McQueen gets serious about the race, Mater gets caught up in an international spy conspiracy that takes him—and the story—to Tokyo, London, Paris and the newly invented Italian town of Porto Corsa. The animation is stunning, the jokes and one-liners are funny, and there’s a good moral about looking out for your friends, too.
8. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Prepare to have your heartstrings pulled in this lovely tale of three pets searching for their masters. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is one of the best road trip movies on Amazon Prime and tells the tale of Shadow, a wise golden retriever; Chance, a lively American bulldog puppy, and Sassy, a weight-conscious Himalayan Cat. The trio are placed in a Californian ranch when their owners are transferred for work to San Francisco. No one is happy about the arrangement, however, and they soon set off in search of their family. It’s an adventure that’s filled with excitement, surprises and more than one nail-biting encounter.
9. College Road Trip
This is the perfect road trip movie for any parent who’s struggling with the idea of their children growing up. Independent Melanie Porter can’t wait to go on her girls-only road trip to check out colleges. The only trouble is, her overprotective father, James. When he decides to tag along, mishaps and misadventures ensue. Her brother—and his pet pig—stow away in the trunk, James borrows and totals a police car, and later crashes a hotel wedding. College Road Trip is a fun story about growing up and letting go.
10. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
The funniest castaways on screen are back in this madcap adventure to Africa. In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria attempt to return to New York, but their plane crash lands in Africa, where more zany shenanigans follow. Alex is reunited with his parents, Marty finds a herd of Zebra who look and sound like him, Melman becomes the local witch doctor and Gloria falls (temporarily) head-over-heals with the smooth-talking hippo, Moto Moto. The penguins provide the biggest belly laughs in this cartoon caper that parents will love just as much as kids.
11. Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Hilarious hijinks prevail when the bumbling Mr. Bean attempts to go on holiday in the south of France in Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Having won a trip to Cannes, he sets off only to find that nothing goes according to plan. He unwittingly separates a young boy from his father and spends the rest of the movie trying to reunite them. Along the way there are cultural misunderstandings, unfortunate coincidences, language problems and much more. It’s very silly, but guaranteed to make you laugh.
Related: Road Trip Hacks Every Family Needs
Katja Gaskell is a travel writer and family travel blogger based in London, U.K. after 12 years on the road in Australia, India and Mexico. She has written guidebooks for Lonely Planet, reviewed hotels for the British boutique hotel site Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed articles to publications including BBC Food, Angels & Urchins, Lonely Planet online and more. She is also the European Editor of Twist Travel Magazine. Katja is a firm believer that you can – and should! – travel with your kids everywhere. Find Katja on her own site globetotting.com and on Instagram @globetotting.