x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Top 5: Families who took to the open road

There have been many stories of travelling families documented throughout the years, both fictitious and real-life, immortalised on celluloid.

The Patridge Family. ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images
The Patridge Family. ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images

The Partridge Family

Those collars, that hair and that multicoloured bus - it must be the 1970s and it must be the Partridge Family. The all-singing, all-dancing TV family led by the widower Shirley Partridge were known for making music in their garage then taking it on the road in an old school bus. The show was a big hit in the 1970s and spawned the song I Think I Love You, which sold five million copies and reached No 1 in the US. The Californian family could be found travelling to venues in the Golden State, Las Vegas and beyond.

Lost In Space

It's the 1960s and the US public has an insatiable thirst for space, as it and Russia battle to put a man on the moon. So it's no surprise that TV executives decided to launch an all-American family into space and, of course, get them lost, with all manner of adventures ensuing. Based on The Swiss Family Robinson novel, this show ran for three seasons and was set in the distant future: 1997 to be precise. It also featured probably the most fantastic TV space robot ever and a wonderful 1960s-inspired vision of space-age fashion.


This was an engaging 2008 documentary film that charted the real-life story of a doctor, Dorian Paskowitz, who decided one day in the early 1970s to give up the rat race and raise his family in a 7.3-metre camper van, travelling across the Americas in search of surf and utopia. He and his wife had nine children and the film looks at his strict parenting, such as eating no fat and sugar, the highs and lows of a large family living in such close quarters and the effect on the children of not being a part of mainstream society.

The Wild Thornberrys

This Nickelodeon children's favourite sees an aristocratic family travelling the world in their "Commvee" searching for rare wild animals to film. The freckled, pigtailed main character, Eliza, has the ability to talk to animals and a chimpanzee named Darwin for a best friend. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea lent his voice to Donnie, a feral boy raised by orang-utans and adopted by the Thornberrys, while the British actor Tim Curry provided the voice of the father, Sir Nigel.

National Lampoon's Vacation

Yes, yes, we know there's a difference between travelling and being a tourist, but indulge us this once and remember all the yucks you had watching Clark Griswold and wife Ellen (Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo) take their family across the country to the Walley World theme park in this first of four Vacation films. Nothing ever seems to go right for the Griswolds until, of course, everything does. Remember this dialogue? Clark (lost): "We're from out of town." Man giving directions: "No (kidding)".