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Road trips, often understood as an embodiment of American freedom, are an essential summertime activity for millions even amidst a global pandemic. New research and recent events, however, complicate the vision of the great American road trip by revealing how it has been shaped by democratic ideals, commercial interest, and nostalgia. Reexamining the road trip through a historical lens can inform the work of transportation professionals – especially in the context of the mobility revolution, social justice reform, and pandemic shutdowns.