It’s the journey, not the destination: The world’s greatest road trips
However you travel on holiday, be it by plane, train or automobile, you will at some-point have wished the journey away, longing to arrive at your destination and drink your first cold beer, toes dipped in the sea and all thoughts of blighty behind you.
But what if the journey IS the destination? Road trips are a great way to see a country, experience something a little bit different and increase your bragging rights kicking your travelling credentials up a notch. Nothing is better than exploring a new destination on YOUR terms – where you want, whenever you want! Weather you rent, buy, or even lease a vehicle, it’s not as hard as you think to travel the world.
Here are our top picks, just don’t go all ‘Thelma and Louise’ on me…
5.) Memphis – New Orleans: The Blues Highway
Cher once sang about putting on her blue suede shoes, touching down in the Delta Blues and this is the setting for our 5th favourite road trip. The Delta Blues is a reference to the style of music that originated in the Memphis – Vicksburg belt. Pick up your SUV and start your trip at Graceland, after all it doesn’t get much more musical or Memphis than Elvis (http://www.elvis.com). At Sun Studio you can take a guided tour, hear outtakes and see memorabilia. Route 61 South out of Memphis travels alongside the Mississippi and takes you through Clarksdale, Cleveland and Baton Rouge among others. Located in the heart of Lousiana, Baton Rouge knows good food, so be sure to grab yourself a bowl of soul from one of the many eateries. Finish up in New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz where the bars are alive every night of the week.
4.) New Zealand’s North Island – Auckland to Wellington
In my opinion, the only way to road trip through New Zealand is by luxury RV – once you’re ready to go, open the panoramic roof, stick some Crowded House on your iPod and hit the road. Rotorua is nicknamed ‘Nature’s Spa of the South Pacific’ and you will be spoilt for choice with therapeutic treatments. Soak in the healing waters of a hot spring or ease driving aches with a mud wrap. Next stop is Kaimanawa Forest Park, which offers scenery that will literally take your breathaway. Stop for a picnic or short walk, or if you’re feeling adventurous book one of their overnight treks. When you arrive in Wellington, also known as NZ’s Capital of Cool, you will want to get some pictures from the lookout, which you can reach by cable car. Foodies will be in heaven and should check out Logan Brown’s.
3.) Australia – Perth to the Southwest
You’d be hard pushed to visit Oz for anything less than 2 weeks but this driving route can be done in 5 days so would make a great add-on to any longer holiday. Western Australia isn’t as touristy as the Gold Coast but is every bit as stunning (if not more so, not that I’m biased!). A night in Perth is a must, take a bottle of wine and some olives to Kings Park and watch the sunset over the city. Heading south out of the city you’ll hit Mandurah. You must grab a bite to eat from The Miami Bakehouse, I’ve honestly never tasted pastries so good. If you have time, have a look at some of the houses on the estuary. Margaret River is a haven of sublime wineries, excellent restaurants (try Winos for great tapas) and home to the world surfing championships.
2.) Vietnam’s Hai Van Pass
Featured on BBC’s Top Gear in 2008, Jeremy Clarkson described Hai Van Pass as a “deserted ribbon of perfection” and “one of the best coast roads in the world”. This stretch of road is a 21km long mountain pass that juts into the South China Sea near Bach Ma National Park. Whilst there are other wonderful mountain passes around the world, it is the sense of isolation that brings the delight to this road. You’ll wind through several hairpin bends climbing for around an hour before reaching the top. It is often misty but if the weather is on your side, you will be rewarded with views like a personal congratulation. Just be aware of the somewhat forceful souvenir sellers. Once conquered you can enjoy Danang City. Check in to Fusian Maia, Vietnam’s hippest beach hotel and Asia’s 1st all-inclusive resort where spa treatments are part of the package.
1.) The Overseas Highway – Miami to Key West
This has to be my number one choice because it is an amazing journey AND destination. Start in Miami, you have to stay on South Beach and your hire car just has to be a convertible. One of my favourite places for people watching whist dining al-fresco is the News Café. You can drive to Key West in around 4 hours but it’s better to break it up with a stopover en-route. The drive is one-of-a-kind and after a couple of hours of bridge after bridge, you’ll still be impressed. The highlight has to be quirky Key West, from Hemingway’s six toed cats to dogs on skateboards, it is packed with fun bars and a year round party atmosphere. Enjoy a sundowner on Sunset Pier whilst listening to ‘Sitting On Dock Of The Bay’ being played on acoustic guitar and you’ll struggle to not leave your heart.