There’s nothing quite like a great road trip. The romantic notion we all have is driving in a snazzy car, top down, tunes blasting with the wide road ahead. It’s total freedom, but it’s also an amazing way to see the world. Sure, the US is famous for its many great drives, but there are any number of other great road trip routes in almost every corner of the world. Since we haven’t met someone yet who doesn’t love an exciting road trip, we thought we’d share some of the best road trip ideas our crack team of travel writers have shared over the years. What’s your dream road trip?
Best Drives and Roadside Sights
Causeway Coastal Route – Northern Ireland
Starting in Derry and ending in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Causeway Coastal Route is a 120-mile drive that connects dozens of small coastal villages and attractions, including several smaller routes connecting inland sites to the main drive. It also takes much more than the 1-day I had to devote to it. I started early, ended late and raced along the way and was not able to even scratch the proverbial surface. Honestly, if you have a week to spend driving this impossibly stunning route, take it. Go slow, stop at everything and enjoy the almost otherworldly beauty you discover along the way. Some of the many highlights include: the Giant’s Causeway, Derry, beautiful coastlines, Ballintoy Village and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Keeping reading about Northern Ireland.
Pacific Coast Highway: Redwood National and State Parks
One not to miss site on the PCH along our way is the Redwoods National Park. Here we gaze high up at the tallest trees in the entire world. Their towering presence is overwhelming and almost unbelievable. We decide to spend some time hiking through the grandeur. The forest is filled with a blanket of thick pine needles and crystal pools. We come to the sandy beaches and peer out in hopes of glimpsing a gray whale. Keep reading about the PCH.
New Zealand: Paihia to Queenstown
New Zealand's natural beauty and unique ecosystem are massive draws for people from around the world. Witness the beauty of the rolling hills, green pastures, beautiful lakes and geothermal wonders of the North Island. Lake Taupo alone is big enough that the entire country of Singapore could fit inside it. The South Island also has mammoth lakes; however, that is where the similarities end. The South Island is all about grand views, towering mountain ranges and snowy glaciers. Starting in Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, and driving south to Queenstown is one of the most stunning road trips in the entire world. New Zealand is one of the most adventurous countries in the world so take your time and enjoy every opportunity to get out and explore. Keep reading about epic road trips.
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo: Texas Cadillac
Ranch might be the most famous roadside attraction on this list. As you pull up to the ranch located just outside Amarillo, you see ten colorful Cadillacs planted halfway into the ground, each car a different model from the golden age of Cadillac (1948-1963). One reason this attraction is so popular is because roads trippers are actually encouraged to get in touch with their artistic side and leave their unique mark on them with spray paint. How often do you get permission to spray paint someone else’s property!? Keep reading about quirky roadside attractions.
Kassel: The City Of The Brothers Grimm
The German Fairy Tale Route stretches 375 miles winding through a landscape of picturesque villages, fortified castles and sinister forests as it follows the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm. The city of Kassel is the capital of the German Fairy Tale Route and the Brothers Grimm. The brothers lived in Kassel for much of their lives and it was here that they collected, documented and revised more than 200 fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm Museum chronicles their lives and work and has on display their personal copies of the Tales of Children and the Home with notes and comments – part of the world document heritage of UNESCO. In summer, there is a Brothers Grimm Festival and in winter, a fairytale Christmas fair. Read more about the German Fairy Tale Route.
CA Route 66
Perhaps the most iconic road trip in America is Route 66, and California is home to many important and well-preserved sections of the road. Route 66 started in Chicago, Illinois, and ended in Santa Monica, crossing some of America's most notable sights along the way. While much of The Mother Road has been lost to time, some significant sections remain for you to piece together on a road trip from Santa Monica to the California desert near the Nevada border. Keep reading about fun California road trips.
The International Selkirk Loop Between The US And Canada
A 2-country, 3-state, 3-day getaway? Just the idea sounds like a lot of fun, but nothing compared to the mostly undiscovered, back roads, off-the-beaten path pleasures of driving the International Selkirk Loop. The two countries are the U.S. and Canada and the three states are Idaho, Montana, and Washington. If you throw in British Columbia, the Canadian province you're entering, it could really be a 4-state getaway. The three days, of course, are of your choosing with the likelihood that when it's over, you'll have wanted to spend a few more days. This fun little 280-mile scenic drive encompasses the Selkirk Mountain range of northern Idaho and British Columbia. Selkirk was a Scotsman who invested heavily in the Hudson Bay Company and established a colony in Manitoba, thus his name on this range in the northern Rockies. Read more about the Selkirk Loop.
Dinosaur National Monument: Utah
Located in northeastern Utah on the border with Colorado, this is the spot to unleash your inner archaeologist or at least your inner Jurassic Park fan. Here at Dinosaur National Monument, thousands of dinosaur bones are exposed in a 200-foot-long sandstone wall. Millions of tons of fossils including full skeletons and bones from previously unknown species have been excavated from this site since it was discovered in 1909, and can now be found in museums all around the world. Keep reading about road trips in Utah.
Painted Desert and Petrified Forest Route 66: Arizona
Head out on the old Route 66, or I-40, and take a road trip through both the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. If you're coming from the west, start at the southern entrance and work your way up. You'll start in the Petrified Forest first and finish off the day with the beautiful Painted Desert vistas. Keep reading about Arizona road trips.
Road Trip Tips
Since you are renting a car, your insurance company may or may not cover you in a vehicle overseas. Purchasing insurance from the rental agency can be dicey, especially if you plan to cross borders. Consider purchasing trip insurance from a provider such as RoamRight, which will cover the cost to repair or replace the vehicle and loss of use fees imposed by the rental car. Peace of mind: Check. Keep reading about overseas driving tips.
Familiarize Yourself with Local Road Signs and Rules
If you're road-tripping in the USA, the rules of the road and the road signs will usually be familiar. But if you choose to road trip in Europe or elsewhere, its a good idea to take look up the traffic laws and standard road signs before your trip. Also make sure your GPS is programmed to English before you leave the rental car office. On a recent road trip through the Netherlands, my GPS gave all traffic warnings in Dutch. Obviously, that wasn't very useful. And some of the road signs I've encountered in Germany would require a masters in geometry to decipher. Keep reading about tips for successful road trips.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take A Detour
The best adventures are the ones you didn't plan for, and this is especially true when it comes to road trips. This is one trip that is all about the journey, so if you see an enticing distraction, then go for it! Whether it's a scenic viewpoint, the world's biggest ball of yarn or fresh strawberries, you won't regret taking the time to discover something new. Keep reading about the do's and don'ts for a perfect summer road trip.
Meals and Dining
Planning ahead for meals will also save you some cash if you know all your options. If you're staying in a hotel, be sure to enjoy the complimentary breakfast if it's included. A big advantage of staying in an apartment is that you can prepare your own meals in a kitchen, which will save money as opposed to always eating out. If you're going out for the day, consider packing a lunch to eat on the road. But don't be so stingy that you miss out on experiencing the local food scene. The culinary element of travel is one of the many parts of a trip that adds enjoyment and makes lasting memories. Ask the hotel staff or your accommodation host for local restaurant recommendations that are affordable, yet authentic and tasty. Keep reading about planning a budget friendly East Coast road trip.
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