We have been doing tons of family road trips recently, and I have to say, it is one of my favourite ways to holiday. Even if you are not driving your own vehicle, the experience of overland travel is so much more intense and colourful than simply jet setting around.
We asked the world of travel bloggers to share their favourite and most epic road trip itinerary’s, tips and stories.
We were amazed at the feedback we got. It seems like just about everyone out there has been on at least one extraordinary road trip, and we can’t wait to share the details with you now….
USA Road Trips
Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville to Cincinnati
Chris Christensen – The Amateur Traveler
The State of Oregon
Adelina Wong – Pack Me To
Last summer I went on an 8 day road trip around the state of Oregon. We started in Portland, headed down the beautiful Oregon Coast, before turning inland to see the stunning Crater Lake inside a volcano. Throughout the whole trip I was in awe of the gorgeous landscape everywhere we drove. Oregon is such a beautiful state that is often overlooked. Especially as we headed down the coastline, every turn revealed an overlook more beautiful that the one previous.
Top tip: If you decide to do this trip, be sure to plan more time than you think you’ll need. There are many roadside attractions and lookout points that you’ll want to stop along the way.
The State of Arizona
Jan Ross – Wanderlust Wonder
By the time our invitation to a resort in Arizona fell through, it was too late. We had already planned our trip and bought airline tickets, so we decided if we were going to Arizona, we would see as much as possible of the Grand Canyon state. Ironically, we had already seen the Grand Canyon, so we decided on Phoenix, Lake Havasu, Tucson, and Sedona. Four completely different locations with (as we soon found out) widely different weather. Our biggest shock was driving from Lake Havasu where we had lounged by the lake in shorts over the mountains to Sedona and suddenly seeing snow by the side of the road. From the astonishing Taliesin West Frank Lloyd Wright winter home to tiny sailboats on Lake Havasu to saguaro cactus forests in Tucson to soaring red rock mountains in Sedona, we burned up the miles trekking across this beautiful state.
Top tip : For anyone who is planning a similar road trip, allow plenty of time in Sedona as we were truly astonished by the unique beauty of this location.
San Francisco to Big Sur
Avichai Ben Tzur – X Days In Y
Charming towns, rugged beaches, and towering Pacific Ocean cliffs – these sound like the ingredients for a great road trip. The Pacific Coast Highway a.k.a Highway 1 stretches along most of California’s Pacific coastline.
If you only have a few days, head down from San Francisco to Big Sur which would first take you along the coastline to surf central Santa Cruz and into Monterrey with its famous aquarium. Then cruise along the famous 17 Mile Drive towards Carmel and don’t forget to visit The Lone Cypress tree as you see golf addicts hit the links on Pebble Beach. Take a refreshing stop in artsy Carmel, visit the white sand beach and spot the dolphins grabbing lunch. Hit the road again driving across the engineering marvel that is Bixby Bridge and into Big Sur.
The highway now snakes its way around towering cliffs and every turn reveals another one of nature’s marvels. Take your time, as you’ll be stopping frequently to take in the breathtaking views. You might even spot some whales swimming offshore. Take a break at McWay Falls, a picture postcard beach where the fresh water tumbles down to the golden beach. If you have more time, head south, stopping at glamorous Hearst Castle and swanky Santa Barbara before reaching the City of Angels.
Top tip: give yourself plenty of time for stopping along the way as there’s so much to see. Make sure to also have plenty of gas in that tank!
Across the USA and back again
Katie – From Shores to Skylines
Road trips are a huge part of the American culture. Growing up, I took several a year with my family, so it seemed fitting that the first trip my husband and I would take together would be an epic road trip – across nearly the entire country and back. We started in our home state of Kentucky and drove Northwest through the Badlands in South Dakota, a welcome sight after the typical flat corn fields of the plain states. We continued through the mountains and forests of Wyoming, starting off the day in shorts and tees and finishing in the snow. We made our way to a tiny town that time forgot, Cody, Wyoming just outside of Yellowstone, where we watched geysers erupt. We made a stop at Crater Lake in Oregon, and snaked down the California Coast, visiting the Redwood Forest, Yosemite National Park, and the giant sequoias along the way. After visiting the old abandoned ghost town of Bodie, we started heading back east through the Joshua trees and stopped at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, where nomadic hunter/gatherers once lived over 10,000 years ago. We drove 6600 miles in just two weeks, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Top tip: While greasy burgers at hole-in-the-wall diners in the US are must do, it can get old fast. I recommend stocking up on a few healthy snacks when you can because there just isn’t much outside of fast food joints in the middle of the country. Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path a little. You can see so much more of this beautiful country when you trade the major highways for scenic back roads.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Bret and Mary – Green Global Travel
Originally known as the Appalachian Scenic Highway, this 469-mile road was built back in the 1930s to connect North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. With remarkable vistas (particularly in October, when the autumn colors reach their peak), historic landmarks such as the Daniel Boone Native Gardens and the Hickory Ridge Homestead, and thousands of wildlife species (including a vast herd of elk), this iconic scenic road offers a taste of unspoiled Americana at its finest. No wonder it has been the U.S. National Park System’s most visited attraction nearly every year since the mid-1940s.
Europe Road Trips
Exploring Ireland – Shannon to Dublin
Carole Terwilliger Meyers – Travels with Carole
Last year I took a road trip through Ireland, beginning in Shannon and ending in Dublin. The trip was memorable and enjoyable and I wouldn’t change a thing. It included stays in a castle in Cong, a B&B in Dingle and Adare, and several nights at several hotels in Dublin.
Top tip : My tip is to definitely spend two nights at Ashford Castle and to splurge there on the Hawk Walk.
The Ultimate Irish Road Trip
Erin Bender – Travel With Bender
If you want to see both the Republic and Northern Ireland, then this is the ultimate road trip for you!
Iceland’s South Coast
Jade – OurOyster
Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world in my opinion. It is the one place we can’t wait to return to. We had originally planned to do the entire Ring Road of Iceland, but that plan had to be quickly discarded due to the winter condition of the roads. However, there was enough on Iceland’s South Coast to keep us very busy for several days.
Think stunning waterfalls, beautiful villages, black sand beaches and a glacier lagoon where giant Iceburgs float up onto the black sand beach. You can read full details about it here.
Top tip: Winter is a beautiful time to go, but you might want to spend the extra money on a four wheel drive. We learned that the hard way after having to be winched out of the ditch after sliding off the icy road.
Iceland’s Golden Circle
Jade – OurOyster
If you only have a day or two and want to explore some of Iceland’s most incredible natural sights, then we recommend the Golden Circle. The short road trip, will take you to a geysir, an important national park, and one of Iceland’s most popular water falls. You will also drive past beautiful and rugged plains, dotted with friendly Icelandic horses.
Top tip: Although there are only three stops on this trip, you will find yourself wanting to pull over frequently to take in Iceland’s special natural beauty. Give yourself a lot of extra time.
The UNESCO painted churches of Cyprus
Jade – OurOyster
In the mountainous region of Troodos in central Cyprus you can escape the heat and visit the 10 painted churches from the Byzantine era. All ten churches have been recognized as UNESCO world heritage sites. The churches are not located all that far from each other, but narrow and winding mountain roads will certainly slow you down. It took us three days to visit them all, and even that was a bit of a mission.
Top tip: Find a hotel that is centrally located amongst the churches and base yourself there. Being in one spot makes it easier to visit all the churches.
UNESCO highlights of Northern Greece
Jade – OurOyster
Getting between places in Greece by public transport is possible, but it’s not always that great if you are in a rush. We wanted to visit the main UNESCO sites of the north but didn’t have days to spend sitting on buses and trains. Instead we went from Athens to Larissa by train and then picked up a rental car. From Larissa we drove to Delphi. Delphi is a beautiful little mountain town and is of course, home to the world famous archaeological site. Not far from Delphi is another less visited UNESCO site, the monastery of Hosios Loukas. From there head north to Metorea, this is the home of the cliff top monastery’s. After visiting Metorea, head back to Larissa to return the car and head off on your next adventure.
Top tip: You will need 2 – 3 days if you want to visit all the monastery’s in Metorea.
Bolivias Death Road
Kach Mu and Jonathan Howe – Two Monkeys Travel Group
Our best ever road trip happened just over a week ago, just outside of La Paz, Bolivia. We spent a whole day cycling the world’s most dangerous road, which claims about 300 lives every year. The road is a deadly blend of stunning scenery, tight turns, rocks and landslides. After about 10 hours of riding, we reached the town of Coroico, where we prepared for the journey back, this time by bus which is how most people die on this road, trying to pass each other on narrow, unstable sections and tumbling 400 meters to the ground below.
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
Anna – The Blonde Banana
The Way of 365 Curves (from Mendoza/Argentina)
Juergen Klein – Dare 2 Go
The way of the 365 curves, Ruta 52, is the old road from Mendoza to Chile. It was replaced by Ruta 7, following Rio Mendoza, which it joins in the pleasant mountain town of Uspallata. This gives the option to drive this road as a round trip from Mendoza or take it as an alternative route to join the pass into Chile. The old road was first constructed in the 16th century, and later it became the chosen path for San Martin to move his troops into Chile, which gave name “Los Libertadores” to the border pass.
The first 50 or so kilometers out of Mendoza are paved, then the surface changes, near the information center, to gravel. At this center you can visit a cactus garden and enter the grand grounds of the historic Hotel Villavicencio, once famous for its thermal springs and cool summer climate (now closed for years and, together with the springs, in foreign ownership); there is an entry fee. From the Hotel Villavicencio onwards the road climbs up the mountains to a height of almost 3,000 meters, through the famous 365 curves. It passes the “Balcon Del Inca”, a viewing platform above a deep canyon, and reaches “Cruz Del Paramillo”, on clear days a stunning viewing point towards the Andean mountains which form the border with Chile. From there it goes gently down into Uspallata, past a plaque commemorating Charles Darwin’s visit, and a old mine converted into museum. The landscape is truly breathtaking, and with some luck you might spot herds of Guanacos grazing beside the road.
Top tip: This trip can be done either with your own or a hired vehicle, no 4-wheel-drive required, or there are tour operators leaving from Mendoza.
Road Tripping Across French Guyana
Jonny – Don’t Stop Living
Public transport in French Guyana isn’t the best so we decided that we would hire a car and do a road trip across the country, from east to west. We crossed the border from the Brazilian town of Oiapoque and arrived in St. Georges de L’Oyapock, a small and remote riverside settlement. French Guyana is a small country, and the capital city is Cayenne. Cayenne is the best place to start your road trip – they have lots of car hire companies there and you can also get your onward visa for Suriname there as well as enjoying the sights of the capital city.
We explored the capital first of all, spending three days enjoying Cayenne. By night you can see turtles coming onto the shore and nesting their eggs on the beach. If you’re lucky you can get to see the baby turtles on the sand at twilight. There are a few lively bars by the main square at night and we also checked out the fort and French colonial buildings by day. We stayed outside the town at Oyasamaid and the next morning headed early westward.
Next up we stopped in the town of Kourou. While the town is quiet and small, Kourou does have one truly amazing place to check out – the CSG, Centre de Spacial Guyanaise. This is basically a massive Space Centre. The largest in South America and the space centre used by France to launch their space exploration projects from. The museum is massive – you can get a guided tour, you get to see space shuttles, rockets and a really in-depth history of space travel not just from the French, but from all the countries involved in space travel through the decades. There is no public transport heading out to the CSG, so this is perfect for a road trip. We spent a couple of nights in the town of Kourou as well, which has a nice beach and some local shops, markets, churches and bars.
After Kourou, it was into the unknown. Our road trip took us along the main road to the town of Sinnamary. It is important to note that Kourou and Cayenne are the last two chances for a big petrol station on the entire road all the way to St. Laurent du Maroni. Sinnamary is even more tranquil and relaxed than Kourou. A pretty church dominates the town centre, near a bridge over the river. We’re the only two tourists around and we stop off for something to eat and drink. Sinnamary is small and sadly the only hotel there was closed for refurbishment at the time, so we headed back on the road to the town of Iracoubo. Iracoubo has quite a few Asians living there, with Chinese restaurants and supermarkets. Here though, the church is by far and away the best attraction and the nicest church in the country in my opinion. Iracoubo has a tourist information centre and a hotel.
Onwards from Iracoubo we headed west towards the riverside town of St. Laurent du Maroni. On the way we ran out of petrol completely, and it was only lucky that we met a guy at the roadside who by fluke had a small amount of petrol in a jug that we bought off him and were able to make it to St. Laurent du Maroni. We stopped in Organabo on the way for something to eat and arrived in St. Laurent du Maroni. This town is famous for once housing the prison Papillon was in. You can tour the former prison, while also checking out the French colonial churches and buildings. Other options include more wild turtle viewing and bird watching.
St. Laurent du Maroni marked the end of our road trip as the town sits on the river which separates French Guyana and Suriname. You can hand your car back into the car hire company here and then get the ferry across to Albina in Suriname!
Oceania Road Trips
Australia – Uluru to Cairns
Linda – Journey Jottings
If you love the feel of wide open roads in front of you, with miles and miles of wide open spaces whooshing past beside you, you’ll love traversing this 3000km (2000 mile) road-trip from iconic Uluru in the heart of Australia’s arid red centre across the desolate Ozzie outback to the lush green tropics on the far north-east coast.
This trip is all about experiencing vast expanses of wilderness. Scrubby wild flats that give an unbroken 360 degree view to the distant horizon line, which abuts the 180 degree dome of blue sky that arches overhead.
This, being sandwiched between two such contrasting landscapes that mark the start and the finish, is what makes this journey of transition so complete.
Top tip: Fuel up at every opportunity – distances can be deceptive and unlike the same-same fuel stations you’d be used to topping up at in urban areas, out here each and every stop has its own quirky idiosyncrasies, not to mention the wonderful outback characters you’ll get to meet along the way.
Australia – The Great Ocean Road
Karyn – Not Done Travelling
This stunning journey begins in the town of Torquay, west of Melbourne, and stretches 246 kilometres westwards. It actually comes in two parts: East of Cape Otway is known as the Surf Coast, and with golden beaches and great waves it’s a fantastic place for a family holiday. West of Cape Otway is known as the Shipwreck Coast and, as the name suggests, it is home to many sunken vessels who met their fate in these treacherous waters. The Shipwreck Coast may be dangerous, but it is also filled with huge cliffs and beautiful scenery such as Loch Ard Gorge and the famous Twelve Apostles. Get out your cameras, people!
It is also possible to do the drive in just one day – but why would you, when there’s so much amazing scenery to stop and gaze at? Allow yourself at least a couple of days to get the most out of this great drive.
Top tip: If you don’t mind sharing the space with lots of other people, summer is a fantastic time to visit as the coastal towns are pumping with energy from all of the numerous visitors. However, if you prefer to avoid crowds and you aren’t afraid of chilly weather, visit in winter. (If you go between May and October and you follow the road all the way to the regional city of Warrnambool, you may also be lucky enough to spot the majestic Southern Right Whales who come to the area to give birth!)
Sydney to Byron Bay
Christy – Ordinary Traveler
We had the best time road tripping along the East Coast of Australia. We flew into Sydney, picked up our campervan and traveled north from there. We spent a little over a week on the road and stopped at as many gorgeous beaches as possible. A few of our favorite stops include Cabarita, Angorie, Yamba, Newcastle, and Byron Bay. Australia is known for their beaches and it definitely didn’t disappoint!
Cape to Cape – Western Australia
Johanna – Zigazag
The Cape to Cape drive in South West Australia covers around 143kms (including a couple of detours) and starts at Cape Naturaliste near Dunsborough then heads south through the Margaret River Region named one of the Top 10 places in the world to visit by Lonely Planet, and finishes at the southern cape, Cape Leeuwin.
Both capes have wonderful lighthouses you can visit. The south west corner of Australia is an ancient land, which for millions of years was cut off from the rest of Australia by desert. You’ll drive through tall Jarrah, Karri and Marri forests and natural bushland. You’ll be able to take detours to wonderful beaches, and experience a fascinating cave system. You’ll see flora found nowhere else in the world – In fact, the south west is known as a biodiversity hotspot. If you’d like to read more about this road trip you might like : Who’s for a Road Trip Australia
Top tip: The caves in the area are amazing. If you’re booking cave tours ask at the Augusta and Margaret River Visitor Centre about packages – sometimes you can buy a discounted package for two or three caves and a lighthouse tour.
Jade – OurOyster
Gippsland is all about wine, great fresh produce, wildlife encounters and beautiful landscapes. It’s pretty much the stuff road trip dreams are made out of. This round trip road trip from Melbourne will take you to the Penguins of Philip Island, Wilsons Prom national park, the beautiful beaches of Lakes Entrance and Tarra Bulga National park. Along the way you can spot penguins, wombats, sea birds, koalas and lyre birds. You will also have tons of hiking opportunities and even more photo opportunities.
Top tip: You will need at least five days, but we recommend more.
Southern Queensland – Rockhampton – Brisbane
Jade – OurOyster
This road trip will take you from the Queensland capital of Brisbane, up to the Capricorn coast and the start of the Great Barrier Reef. This road trip is all about beaches, sun, and Aussie creatures.
Beachy highlights include the beautiful seaside resort town of Hervey Bay, where whales some to rest and play in the winter months. The white silicon sands of Fraser Island is also not to be missed. Fraser island is also one of the best places in Australia to discover dingos in the wild. Just north of Hervey Bay is the sugar cane capitol of Bundaburg, where during the summer months you can watch turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, and little turtle hatchlings scrambling their way to the waves.
Don’t miss Great Kepple Island just off the coast of Rockhampton as well. But even with all these great beaches, don’t forget to also look inward every once in a while. Just inland from Rockhampton you can dig through the volcanic past and discover some Thunder eggs – rocks with fascinating crystals inside them.
Top tip: Pack lots of sunscreen!
Asian Road Trips
The India Rickshaw Run
Karilyn – No Back Home
Top tip: Drive when it’s daylight, stop when it’s dark, and avoid getting thrown out of the rickshaw by speed bumps or potholes that jump out of nowhere.
Brad – My Wander List
Road Trip Through Turkey
Jenny – A Taste of Travel
Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Jade – OurOyster
Vietnam is the perfect country for road tripping. Long and skinny, with two major cities at either end of the country, it’s made for road trips. Buy your own motorbike, grab a train ticket or purchase a hop on hop off bus ticket – there are lots of ways to discover Vietnam.
Highlights along the way include the Mekong Delta near Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi tunnels, the tailors of Hoi An, and mountain region of Dalat, the islands and beaches of Nha Trang, and the history of Hue.
But the one highlight not to miss is Halong Bay. This stunning bay is a popular tourist attraction for a region – it’s absolutely stunning!
Top tip: Shop around when choosing your Halong Bay tour.