By Bianca Smith • April 05, 2018
Road trips, we've all got memories of them. Some good, some give nightmares. It's such a classic way to travel. You can spontaneously turn off to see the world's largest teapot (it's in West Virginia), or detour to the beach while blasting Prince's Little Red Corvette at top volume. We dare you to try that on a flight. Sure road trips have some less fun aspects, but it's all part of the adventure, right?
So, today in celebration of Read a Road Map Day, here are some of our favorite road trip books, including some for kids.
When Colin Singleton's heart is broken by the nineteenth Katherine he's dated, his best friend announced the only remedy possible: road trip! Colin is also a self-declared, washed-up, child prodigy who's convinced devising a formula to predict romantic relationship success will turn his prodigy status into genius. It's a road trip story, so like most, there's also a girl (not named Katherine), a pink house, and a crazy situation with a tampon string factory.
We couldn't make a road trip book collection without this American classic. The story behind the novel is as immersing as Sal Paradise and his friend Dean Moriarty's travels. On the Road is based on Jack's novels from his own road trips while writing The Town and the City. He kept notebooks of his travels and over three weeks typed them into a novel.
American Gods is fantasy, Americana, and mythology all rolled into one 465-page road trip as only Neil Gaiman can. The story does start in an airplane, but after meeting on the plane, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday take an epic road trip recruiting the Old Gods along the way. That's a simplified version of a beautifully detailed and justifiably complex story. If you're not the driver, you can read it during a road trip. It'll last you across a country, except if you're in Europe and you may need two. It's long.
Here is another novel based on the author's personal road trips. Trips is actually a rather appropriate word here when the protagonist, Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, travel to Las Vegas to chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze. While Raoul is a journalist with the intention to report on a motorcycle race, they end up with a series of bizarre hallucinogenic experiences, where they destroy hotel rooms, wreck cars, and have visions of anthropomorphic desert animals. Not recommended for reading aloud during a road trip with children.
Amelia is going to see her best friend, Nadia. Road trip! She plans the trip: what she needs, where they're traveling, etc. in her journal. Amelia Hits the Road isn't a traditional story. It's a ten-year-old's journal, and that includes scribbles and handwriting, and illustrations. Discover Amelia's awful sister, Cleo, and the adventures on their way to the Grand Canyon.
Oh, family road trips are terrible. Why can't they go somewhere fun, like Disney World and hotels with swimming pools and water slides? Poor big brother has it so hard; his parents insist on obscure vacation destinations. The drive is bad, with argumentative games of 20 questions and read-aloud of the change a tire manual. Then when they arrive it's worse. They eat bugs in Mexico and mistake alligators for logs in the middle of Okefenokee Swamp. All while having to keep his little brother out of trouble. Kids (and grown-ups) will relate to big brother's "terrible" vacations while being more than a tad envious of their adventures.
If the author's name looks familiar, it is. The Fonz writes children's books. In Barfing in the Backseat, series protagonist Hank Zipzer is on his way to a crossword contest with his family. His father is competing, and Hank gets to visit a theme park while his dad is competing. But only if he completes his homework. It's a road trip story so naturally things go wrong, including a left-behind homework packet. Will Hank make it to the rollercoaster?