There's something so quintessentially American about driving cross-country during the summertime. The open road, the endless nights, the mountain views, the desert at dawn ... It's the kind of thing that looks great in pictures, and the Great American Road Trip has a long, storied, rich history in film.

We're approaching the halfway point of summer, so we thought we'd comb through some particularly memorable road movies to see what lessons we could glean -- both what to do and what not do when you finally buy that sky-blue convertible you've been dreaming of and hit Route 66 on a magical trip of discovery, Americana and, of course, wacky hijinks.

Here are seven tips to make your road trip the best it can be.

Tip 1: Plan ahead.

Movie: 'National Lampoon's Vacation'

One principle we need to state right away: A road trip is about the journey, not the destination. However, it's important that you know where you're headed and that where you're headed will, in fact, be there and be open when you arrive. When Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase, in one of his Mt.Rushmoreroles) and his family finally make it to Walley World only to find that it's closed for repairs, the disappointment is palpable. It's enough to make you want to punch a moose in the mouth:
Midnight Run
Based on 16 critics

Scruffy bounty hunter (Robert De Niro) brings in fussy embezzler (Charles Grodin). Read More

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
In Theaters on November 26th, 1999

A stranded ad exec (Steve Martin) and a salesman (John Candy) make unlikely co-travelers. Read More

December 8, 2016
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The Blues Brothers
In Theaters on June 16th, 1980

Joliet Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) reunite hot Chicago band. Read More

Road Trip
Based on 32 critics

Friends (Seann William Scott, Breckin Meyer, D. J. Qualls) travel to intercept an illicit videotape. Read More

Almost Famous
Based on 38 critics

An aspiring teenage rock journalist gets his big break when he follows an up-and-coming band. Read More

National Lampoon's Vacation
Based on 6 critics

Griswolds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo) aim station wagon at California fun park. Read More