Whether you’re heading out on a road trip or flying across the country, we’ve got a list of the 11 best road trip and travel movies for kids and families! These movies cover a variety of different travel locations and travel themes. We start our list with movies for younger kids (but that older kids and adults will still enjoy tremendously) and move on to a couple of choices for older kids and teens. While your kids have likely seen many of the more recent and popular movies on our list, we also cover a couple of classics towards the end of our list that might be new to them!
11 Great Road Trip and Travel Movies for Kids and Families
There’s no better road trip movie than Cars! As kids watch their beloved Lightening McQueen overcome many obstacles to win the Piston Cup, they are also transported back to historic Route 66. The movie takes place in a town called Radiator Springs, which is entirely fictional, however- it was carefully designed using iconic establishments along the real Route 66 and critics praised the film’s animators for perfectly capturing the overall vibe of this classic American road trip route. Lightening McQueen is all about speed and no matter where you’re going, he’ll help your kids get there FAST!
The Madagascar films are a bonus on our list because you get not one, not two, but three awesome travel films! The franchise started with Madagascar in 2005, where four animals who have lived comfortable lives in the Central Park Zoo in New York City escape and find themselves shipwrecked on the African island of Madagascar. The sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa finds the crew of animals attempting to pilot a plane back to New York City. The third film, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, lands the crew in Europe where they join a traveling circus on their journey to get back home to NYC. If you’re going on a long trip- this hilarious series of travel themed movies will be sure to help your little ones pass the time on the road!
Finding Nemo is a classic travel movie and is great for road trips- even though Nemo’s “road trip” takes places under the sea! When he’s plucked from the ocean and transported to a fish tank in a dentist’s office, his new fish tank friends help him escape and work his way from Sydney, Australia, back home to his dad- with a journey through the Great Barrier Reef along the way. Finding Nemo can help address some fears and anxieties kids may have about travel or going new places. Nemo will help them find the bravery they need to conquer their adventures and enjoy the journey!
Going on a road trip? Forget the car- take the whole house instead! A house that flies beneath thousands of colorful balloons! Elderly Carl is about to fulfill a lifelong dream by floating to the wilderness of South America in his house lifted up by balloons, but he discovered he has a stowaway, Russell, who ends up joining him on the adventure. Up takes kids on a journey to Paradise Falls, which is inspired by the beautiful Angel Falls in Venezuela. The theme of the movie is about seeking adventure, no matter what your age or where you are in life- which will help get young travelers excited about the adventures they are about to go on!
If you want to escape into the bright colors and lively music of South America, Rio will instantly transport you to Brazil, right alongside a domesticated male macaw bird who is flown there to mate with a female macaw to prevent the extinction of their species (don’t worry- it’s totally kid friendly!) The two birds get bird-napped by smugglers, then they escape and go on a wild chase around Brazil. The only problem is Blu doesn’t know how to fly and must learn along the way! This funny and engaging movie showcases a beautiful South American country while encouraging little ones to overcome any challenges or obstacles in their way.
If you’re heading to France- or on any kind of foodie adventure- Ratatouille is a must watch movie on the way! When a rat named Remy befriends Linguini, a clumsy young restaurant worker in a famous Parisian restaurant- he takes viewers on a culinary journey that will have everyone’s mouth watering! Ratatouille shows off the dazzling beauty of Paris, but the real adventure is in the food Remy learns to cook with the help of his human friends. It’s a great movie that combines the adventure of travel with the adventure of trying new foods- so if you’ve got a picky eater on your trip or you’re heading to a location where kids will be trying new foods, Ratatouille is a great way to get them ready!
If you’re heading to Hawaii or another tropical location, Moana is a fantastic movie to help get the kids ready. It’s actually great for any kind of trip you’re taking, because Moana is a story about traveling through one’s past and into one’s future in search of identity and self-discovery. The sea is the source of all life on Earth and Moana sets out on an exciting ocean adventure to discover who she really is. The colors are incredibly vibrant and the soundtrack will have the whole family singing along!
Harry and the Hendersons
If your kids have seen everything on this list so far- and most likely they have- then they’ve love this throwback from 1987. Harry and the Hendersons is a classic family comedy that follows the Henderson family as they travel home to Seattle from a camping trip in the Cascade Mountains. A family road trip isn’t a family road trip if something doesn’t go awry- and while driving home, something goes shockingly and hilariously awry for the Hendersons. They didn’t just run out of gas or get a flat tire… they ran over a Sasquatch! Thinking the creature is dead and not knowing what to do with it, they strap it to the top of their car and bring it home- where they come to realize it is very much still alive! Shenanigans ensue that will delight kids of all ages!
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Here’s another older film you might want to bust out for kids who have seen all the more recent movies on our list. This is a 1993 remake of the original Homeward Bound movie made in 1963- but it’s a timeless classic. When the Seaver family leaves for a road trip, they take their two dogs and a cat to a friend’s farm. But the anima’s fear they’ve been left behind forever, so they venture off on a journey to make their way home through the California wilderness to be reunited with their owners. Part travel adventure and part heartwarming story about the true meaning of family- kids will enjoy going on this wild pet adventure as you are driving or flying to their very own travel adventure!
The Muppet Movie
The oldest movie on our list is from 1979 but is a road trip classic with characters even the youngest of kids are sure to know and love. Kermit the Frog decides he wants a career in the movies, so he sets off on a cross-country road trip from his Florida swamp to Hollywood, California. On his adventure, Kermit meets Miss Piggie, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo who all share his excitement for breaking into show biz! There are numerous car swaps and breakdowns and a western style showdown in a ghost town out west. The newfound friends finally make it to Hollywood where they pursue heir dreams of making millions of people happy!
Little Miss Sunshine
Teens will love this quirky movie that follows seven year old Olive as she chases her dream of making the finals in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Her entirely dysfunctional family road trips to the pageant in California in an old Volkswagen van, with the typical road trip shenanigans amplified by the family’s quirkiness. It’s an emotional film that focuses on the meaning of family- and it will remind you that no matter what trials and tribulations you may face on an adventure, your family will help get you through- even if they drive you crazy along the way! Common Sense Media does rate this film for teens as it contains some mature content, so please be aware!
If you want to save this list of road trip and travel movies for kids, be sure to pin this post! And if you’re looking for more road trip tips for traveling with kids, you can also check our out post on How To Keep The Kids From Asking “Are We There Yet?!”