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The Ticketless Traveler

The Ticketless Traveler: American Road Trip


Sometimes it isn't about the destination. Here's a list of all things that take me on a mental trip across America's highways.  

The staff of Jefferson Market Library on our last road trip!The staff of Jefferson Market Library on our last road trip!


On The Road by Jack Kerouac: The quintessential American road-trip novel. Read about the adventures of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise in the standard form or in the form of the original 120 foot long scroll.

You Can't Win by Jack Black: Before cars & motorcycles, people took road-trips the old-fashioned way—hopping freight-trains. Written by a Depression Era hobo and criminal, this book was a major influence on "Old Bull Lee".

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson: Grapefruit, Hawaiian shirts, and psychedelics! Thompson and his lawyer run wild around Las Vegas & the surrounding areas looking for the American Dream.


Two-Lane Blacktop: Two gearheads known only to the viewer as "The Driver" (played by a young James Taylor) and "The Mechanic" (played by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson)  drag-race their way across the United States in a 1955 Chevy. A brooding, existential film with minimal dialogue. 

Easy Rider: Ground-breaking and age-defining, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda play two hippies biking across the U.S. in the late 1960s.

Natural Born Killers: Serial killers, running wild across the country! Ahhh!

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: A young man's desperate struggle to re-claim his stolen bike. Are you calling me "low-brow" for mentioning this movie? Well, I know you are, but what am I?


There is nothing like getting in your car and blasting Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild to really get a roadtrip started. Check it out on the Easy Rider soundtrack or on a studio album.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, with John Fogerty's soulful voice singing songs about the Mississippi River and being stuck in backwoods towns, always makes me feel like I'm donning an American-Flag backpatch and carrying a fiddle.

"The Passenger" by Iggy Pop on the Lust for Life album is the audible version of looking out a car window at the city at night. Oh let's ride and ride and ride. 

"Another State of Mind" Social Distortion's homage to touring in a punk van can be found in NYPL collections via their live album.

Almost all of Johnny Cash's music makes me think of driving, but for this road trip, check out his America album and travel through the states and 200 years of history. It's School House Rock, Cash-style!  

I can't believe I am mentioning this in a public forum but, Meatloaf's second album Bat Out of Hell has some great road-trip songs. Paradise By the Dashboard Light, anyone?

Don't like my taste in music? I'll let you take control of the dial.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

"Hobo" by Eddy Joe Cotton

"Hobo" by Eddy Joe Cotton worth a mention. He would not return William Vollmann's calls. extra +++ for knowing about Jack Black1!


I can't believe I never read "Hobo"-- sounds like my kind of book! Thanks! Did you ever read the one on Boxcar Bertha? Maybe we need an entire hobo blog post... P.S. I finished "Wetlands"... wow.

Jack Black!

I love that book so much. I wanted to travel back in time and hang with that dude when I read the book. Actually, that would still be pretty cool.

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