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:
National Lampoon's Vacation Movie Poster
National Lampoon's Vacation
R1983
Based on 6 critics

Accompanied by their children (Dana Barron, Anthony Michael Hall), Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his... Read More

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Movie Poster
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
R1987
In Theaters on November 26, 1999

Easily excitable Neal Page (Steve Martin) is somewhat of a control freak. Trying to get home to Chicago... Read More

The Blues Brothers Movie Poster
The Blues Brothers
R1980
In Theaters on June 18, 1980

After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) --... Read More

Road Trip Movie Poster
Road Trip
R2000
Based on 32 critics

Josh (Breckin Meyer) videotapes his affair with another girl and accidentally mails it to his girlfriend.... Read More

Almost Famous Movie Poster
Almost Famous
R2000
Based on 38 critics

Set in 1973, it chronicles the funny and often poignant coming of age of 15-year-old William, an unabashed... Read More

Midnight Run Movie Poster
Midnight Run
R1988
Based on 16 critics

When Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) hires tight-lipped bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) to locate... Read More