Clark Griswold, wanting to spend more time with his wife Ellen and children Rusty and Audrey, decides to lead the family on a cross-country expedition from the Chicago suburbs to the southern California amusement park Walley World, billed as "America's Favorite Family Fun Park." Ellen wants to fly, but Clark insists on driving, so he can bond with his family. He has ordered a new car in preparation for the trip, but the dealer claims that it will not be ready for six weeks. Clark is forced to accept a Wagon Queen Family Truckster, an ugly, out-sized station wagon, as the car he brought to trade in has already been hauled away and crushed.
During the family's travels, they run into numerous mishaps, such as being tagged by vandals in a rundown area of St. Louis, Missouri, while Clark is tantalized numerous times by a beautiful young woman driving a flashy red 1983 Ferrari. They stop in Coolidge, Kansas to visit Ellen's cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie, who foist cranky Aunt Edna and her mean dog Dinky on the Griswolds, asking them to drop her off at her son Norman's home in Phoenix. After stopping at a decrepit and dirty campground in Colorado for the night, Clark forgets to untie Dinky's leash from the bumper before driving off the next morning, killing the dog. A state trooper pulls the Griswolds over and angrily lectures Clark over animal cruelty but accepts Clark's apology; Edna learns of her dog's death and becomes more irate with Clark. Exiting Colorado, Ellen loses her bag which had her credit cards, forcing Clark to have to cash a check for future spending.
While Ellen and Clark argue during a drive between Utah and Arizona, they crash and become stranded in the desert. After setting off alone in the desert to look for help, Clark eventually reunites with his family, who have been rescued and taken to a local mechanic. The mechanic extorts the remainder of Clark's cash only to make the car barely operational. Frustrated, they stop at the Grand Canyon; when Clark cannot convince a hotel clerk to cash a personal check because his credit card was reported stolen, he takes cash from the cash register behind the clerk's back and leaves the check. Leaving, they find that Aunt Edna has died in her sleep. They tie the deceased to the roof of the car, wrapped in a tarpaulin. When they reach Norman's home, they discover he is out of town and leave Edna's body at the back door. Having enough of the road-trip and of the mishaps they encountered, Ellen and the children want to go back home, but Clark has become obsessed in reaching Walley World and they continue on. After an argument with Ellen, Clark eventually meets the Ferrari-driving blonde beauty at a hotel and goes skinny-dipping with her in its pool, but they are discovered by the family before anything untowards can transpire. Ellen forgives Clark, and the couple goes skinny-dipping as well.
Despite the family's misfortunes, they finally arrive the next day, only to find that the park is closed for the next two weeks for repairs. Finally slipping into madness and realizing that all his efforts have been for nothing, Clark buys a realistic-looking BB gun and demands that park security guard Russ Lasky take them through Walley World; Ellen and the kids follow, attempting to placate Clark. Eventually, an LAPD SWAT team arrives, along with park owner Roy Walley. Roy understands Clark's impassioned longing to achieve the perfect vacation, bringing back memories of his own family's vacation headaches. He decides not to file criminal charges against the Griswolds and lets the family – and the SWAT team – enjoy the park as his guests.
But seriously I wish I had a road trip story that was half as interesting as the Griswold tale.
I did have an engine blow up on me while driving from Chicago to Winnetka Wisconsin. I drove 25 hours straight from San Mateo California to Dallas Texas hopped up on Monster Energy drinks only stopping to use the restroom along the way then made the same 25 hr Journey back to San Mateo a month later hopped up on Monster Energy drinks and Starbucks doubleshot