Roadtrip Nation

TV review by
Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media
Roadtrip Nation TV Poster Image
Recent college grads travel the road of life.

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Positive Messages

Young people learn from the experience of older people -- what could be smarter than that?

Positive Role Models & Representations

The young adults learn and demonstrate courage, integrity, and perseverance on their trip. They also encounter positive role models in their interviews.


Pretty mild: "Crap," "half-assed," and other mildly vulgar phrases.


You can buy the tie-in books, and some of the interviewees work for known companies, but the whole thing is really pretty educational.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roadtrip Nation's goal -- inspiring young people to find their path in life by exploring how others found theirs -- is morphing into a national movement. Since the series focuses on the need for people to discover what will give them inner satisfaction, the "typical" college-grad school-family track isn't a given -- careers from lobsterman and rocket scientist to police commissioner and CEO are all treated with equal respect.

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What's the story?

In ROADTRIP NATION, trios of recent college graduates wind their way across the country in lime green RVs, documenting their experiences. Unlike MTV's Road Rules, this is a journey with a real purpose: These road-trippers want to find themselves -- and a life path that doesn't follow a rigid, set line. As they crisscross the United States (or Canada or the United Kingdom), the trippers interview self-made people from all walks of life -- a Supreme Court justice, a hip-hop mogul, the chairman of Starbucks, a research scientist, a rancher, a truck driver, a national parks supervisor, a food critic, Madonna's stylist, and more. The interviewees recall how their own adulthood started, describing both their missteps and how they avoided the paths prescribed for them by their parents or society. They talk about their lives in terms of satisfaction, passion, and realistic pride in their accomplishments.

Is it any good?

Viewers used to the histrionics and excitement of most reality TV shows might find this one slow, but so much more impactful. Roadtrip Nation's camera shots are mostly of passing scenery and talking-head interviewees. They're cleverly edited into a kind of visual collage, which quickens the pace a bit. As anyone who's gone on a long road trip knows, spending long days in a vehicle provides big-time opportunity for deep self-reflection, which -- if not exactly the stuff of high drama -- is usually very meaningful. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the paths chosen or not chosen by people in their own circle, using questions similar to those asked on Roadtrip Nation: What was your life like when you were in your early 20s? How and why did you choose your work/career/life path? Are you doing what you set out to do? Who or what influenced you?

  • Parents can ask teens what lessons they hear the interviewees describing about life, family, and what they did (and what they learned) when faced with adversity.

  • How do the young adults on Roadtrip Nation demonstrate courage, integrity, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love smart reality TV

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

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