'Cause how you get there is the worthier part
August 28, 2023 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I like road trip stories whether there is a goal or just a journey with a faint MacGuffin of purpose. Looking for recommendations for a short story/novella/novel (or heck even real life travel memoir) that consists of adventures on a road trip.
posted by Mitheral to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods. Two men go for a long walk.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:35 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]

I used to really like memoirs about people who went on long walks. The 2 books I remember the most are Worldwalk by Steven Newman & A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins.

If you want more roadtrip books, Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon is a classic. He has some other travelling books that might also hit the spot.
posted by belladonna at 7:32 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]

"Road Fever" by Tim Cahill, about an attempt to beat a driving record for the length of the America's. Funny and informative and captivating.
posted by brainwane at 7:40 PM on August 28

Bryson but Down Under/In a Sunburned Country
posted by billsaysthis at 9:24 PM on August 28

No list like this is complete without On the Road by Jack Kerouac, the quintessential road trip book.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig. I can't recommend this enough.

Seconding anything by Bill Bryson, really. In addition to the ones mentioned, Notes from a Small Island and The Lost Continent are both brilliant. If you've never read Bryson, his writing is both very absorbing, and also laugh out loud funny

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin is a stone-cold classic. I'm not exactly sure why, personally, as I find it too....modernist? staccato? I'm not sure....but I know a lot of people think it's amazing and you might too.

The Road to Oxiana by Robert Bryson, about an archaeologist/historian/architecture buff and his friend travelling through Iran in the 1930s. Nominally the story is about their efforts to get to a specific place in Afghanistan, but like all good road trips it's the people and places and experiences during the journey which stand out.
posted by underclocked at 11:25 PM on August 28

Anything by Bettina Selby, hardcore longdistance cyclist, I met her once, she is the real deal. Has a lot of interesting insights in to cultures we take for granted.

Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels got me moving and I carried it like a talisman on an American cycle trip. Also explores some of the effects on relationships from travellings for multiple years; it's not the same when you get 'home'.

N'thing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it took me three goes, finally with a pack of PostIts and a notepad, very worthwhile.

Turn Right at Land's End by John N. Merrill - a 7000mile walk around the British coast, older but for geography and local culture still a valueable guide - wry humour too, great book.
posted by unearthed at 2:04 AM on August 29

If you read children's books, then Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming and Diana Wynne Jones's Cart and Cwidder (part of a fantasy series).

Lois McMaster Bujold's The Paladin of Souls is a road-trip fantasy novel, though ideally you'd start with the previous book, The Curse of Chalion.

Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt.

In non-fiction, Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford, by Helen Dore Boylston and Rose Wilder Lane. Journey was in 1926.
posted by paduasoy at 2:18 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
posted by evilmomlady at 4:11 AM on August 29

I really enjoyed Amor Towles’s The Lincoln Highway - road trip with some crime.

Paul Rudnick’s I’ll Take It (out of print but it’s out there) is one of my all time favorite books - three sisters and one son drive up to Maine to go shopping to commit larceny to see the leaves change.
posted by Mchelly at 4:53 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]

American Ramble by my friend Neil King

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
posted by jgirl at 5:07 AM on August 29

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. Also walking, in Cornwall. Really lovely.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 6:48 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]

Mark Twain’s Roughing It and Innocents Abroad
posted by xueexueg at 10:20 AM on August 29

Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young is a bit of a early '80s classic - UK journalist takes a variety of boats from Greece to China...
posted by patricio at 1:21 PM on August 29

Going really old school - the travels of Celia Fiennes are fun.
posted by paduasoy at 3:39 PM on August 29

Couch by Benjamin Parzybok is an off-beat example of what you're looking for. Three slacker roommates have to move out of their apartment in Portland, taking their couch with them. And then their couch starts giving them suggestions about which way to turn. Since they can't ask it where it wants to go, they just carry it further and further abroad, waiting for the occasional opinion to emerge from the cushions, and having interesting encounters and adventures along the way.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:36 AM on August 30

I haven't read the whole book, but here's an excerpt from "Arbitrary Stupid Goal" that might fit your bill.
posted by soonertbone at 5:11 PM on August 31

I recently read Kingbird Highway, Kenn Kaufman's memoir of the year he spent (mostly) hitchhiking to attempt to break the record for most bird species seen in a year in North America.
posted by invokeuse at 7:34 AM on September 1

I thought you'd get loads of fiction so held back, but as you haven't, here's a Reddit thread on road trip romance novels.
posted by paduasoy at 1:16 AM on September 2

Compartment no 6 by Rosa Liksom is about a Finnish student who travels by train from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar in 1986. It's quite a short novel, and fairly strange and interesting.
posted by goo at 12:23 AM on September 24

Came across this novel today so adding it to the suggestions: The Widows' Adventures, by Charles Dickinson.
posted by paduasoy at 12:45 PM on October 13

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