A road trip, sometimes spelled roadtrip, is a long-distance journey on the road. Typically, road trips are long distances traveled by automobile.
The world's first recorded long-distance road trip by automobile took place in Germany in August 1888 when Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, the inventor of the first patented motor car (the Benz Patent-Motorwagen), travelled from Mannheim to Pforzheim (a distance of 106 km (66 mi))in the third experimental Benz motor car (which had a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour (16 km/h)) and back, with her two teenage sons Richard and Eugen, but without the consent and knowledge of her husband.
Her official reason was that she wanted to visit her mother but unofficially she intended to generate publicity for her husband's invention (which had only been used on short test drives before), which succeeded as the automobile took off greatly afterwards and the Benz's family business eventually evolved into the present day Mercedes-Benz company.
Presently there is a dedicated signposted scenic route in Baden-Württemberg called the Bertha Benz Memorial Route to commemorate her historic first road trip.
The first successful North American transcontinental trip by automobile took place in 1903 and was piloted by H. Nelson Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker, accompanied by a dog named Bud. The trip was completed using a 1903 Winton Touring Car, dubbed "Vermont" by Jackson. The trip took a total of 63 days between San Francisco and New York, costing US$8,000. The total cost included items such as food, gasoline, lodging, tires, parts, other supplies, and the cost of the Winton.
The first woman to cross the American landscape by car was Alice Huyler Ramsey with three female passengers in 1909. Ramsey left from Hell's Gate in Manhattan, New York and traveled 59 days to San Francisco, California. Ramsey was followed in 1910 by Blanche Stuart Scott, who is often mistakenly cited as the first woman to make the cross-country journey by automobile East-to-West (but was a true pioneer in aviation).
Many people may go on road trips for recreational purpose (e.g. sightseeing or to reach a desired location, typically during a vacation period (e.g., in the US, driving to Disneyland from Oregon)). Other motivations for long-distance travel by automobile include visitation of relatives, who may live far away, or relocation of one's permanent living space.
In the United States, a road trip typically implies leaving the state, or in extreme cases, leaving the country for places such as Canada or Mexico. However, in larger states, travel within the state may also be considered a road trip.
Many movies and other forms of media have been made which focus upon the topic of road trips, including the namesake. Many tend to be comedic in nature, although road movies such as Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise exemplify the American dream.