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Buckle Up to Learn Why Americans Love Their Road Trips So Much

When it comes to road trips, PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta says it’s all about “passing through.”

image via (cc) flickr user jocelynyo

The first day of summer might still be a few weeks off, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start planning that ultimate warm weather pastime: The road trip.


Whether it’s a family of four packed into a crowded SUV for a carefully plotted vacation, or a group of college friends hitting the highway without so much as a map, road trips have become as much a rite of summer as BBQ and baseball games. But what is it about road trips that compels millions of Americans to get in their cars and go each year? Is it simply summer ennui pushing us to seek new locales?

That might be part of it, but PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta thinks it’s something more, something deeper, something unique to America’s national identity that drives us to, well, drive. The key to why Americans love road trips, argues Rugnetta, is the concept of “passing through.” Before you hit the road yourself, take a few minutes and let him explain what he means.

As you can see, despite their German origins, road trips have become embedded in American culture through a unique combination of geographic reality, historical causality, and cultural mythology.

Hopefully this gives you something interesting to talk about during your next long car ride. And if you need some inspiration for where to go, here’s a map for a forty-eight state trip that should keep you on the roads all summer long.

[via laughing squid]

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