There is something about road trips that is so romantic. Driving that convertible with the wind gushing on your cheeks, road trips are meant to be a pilgrimage of some sorts. Just like all the coming-of-age movies you see on the big screen, you can’t help but feel drawn to doing the same thing while watching it, imagining you behind the steering wheel, driving to some place far ahead. And often, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey.
If the thought of road tripping is in your bucket list, we have the perfect suggestions for you!
1. Route 66, USA
Let’s start with the most popular highway in the world – Route 66. The iconic 3,945-km stretch is so famous in the 1940s (and still is) that it spawned a hit song and a TV show!
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Route 66, or also known as The Mother Road, starts from the city of Chicago, through St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Santa Fe, and Flagstaff before it ends in Los Angeles.
That’s basically driving through eight states – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. You’ll be going through three timezones!
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There are many bed and breakfasts as well as motels along the road. You’re bound to stop over at some old school diners with the red cushion seats that serve milkshakes and fries.
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Some of the places along the route is the birthplace of corn dog, Cozy Dog Drive in Springfield, Illinois. There is also the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas and Wigwam Villages in San Bernadino, California.
Driving along Route 66 guarantees you that rustic, and rock & roll experience. The trail ends at Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and it is customary to take a photo at the signage there.
2. Great Ocean Road, Australia
Just Down Under is a route known as the Great Ocean Road, a journey that would excite any beach lover especially the surfers. The name is already a giveaway, isn’t it? The road stretches to 243km and the best part is that it is not limited to only the coastline. Here on the Great Ocean Road, you can see cascading waterfalls, fertile rainforests and a wild surf.
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Keep your eyes peeled for the famous Twelve Apostles limestone pillars. It is quite unfortunate that one out of the nine original pillars is gone after it collapsed dramatically in 2005 but the Twelve Apostles remains a sight not to be missed.
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3. Ring Road, Iceland
Some describe this route as epic. This is probably the only road trip you’ll ever need in your life. Route 1, or better known as the Ring Road, takes you on a circle around Iceland’s coast, all 1,332km of it.
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The stunning landscape along the route that takes between 10 days to 2 weeks to finish will surely leave you mesmerised. Some of the natural phenomena that can be glimpsed are the geothermal pools, fjords, volcanoes and black-sand beaches.
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Some of the places to look out for during your drive are the Jökulsárós lagoon, Skogafoss waterfall, Myvatn Geothermal Area, Horseback Riding Skagafjörður Region and Seljalandsfoss. If you’re a big Game of Thrones fan, then this road trip hits the jackpot as you can see the very same icebergs seen in the insanely popular TV show.
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Since this is Iceland, there is also the possibility of catching the Northern Lights if you do the trip between August and April. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the beautiful Northern Lights illuminating your drive at night?
4. South Island, New Zealand
It has been years since my first and last trip to New Zealand but I could still remember my host telling me how it doesn’t take long for you to see a change in scenery while road tripping in New Zealand. The view changes every two hours on the road because of the small size. Shorter distance, but you get to see a whole lot more.
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The best way to experience New Zealand is by driving the campervan. The 2,400 km circuit will take you about two weeks to finish with many stunning views. Two stops that you must not miss are the lakes at Milford Sound and the out-of-this-world looking orbs by the beach at Moeraki Boulders.
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5. Columbia River Gorge, USA
The many dramatic waterfalls along the way makes Columbia River Gorge worthy of a spot in this list. Just east outside of Portland, Oregon, this road trip on Interstate-84 won’t tire you out due to its short distance of 113km that can be covered in a day. The abundance of greenery along its route would definitely rests your tired eyes and rejuvenates your soul.
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Columbia River Gorge is one of the seven wonders of Oregon, making it a must-visit pit stop towards the end of the trip. There is also Multnomah Falls, the famous waterfall seen in the first Twilight movie where visitors flock to. You can hike up to the top of this waterfall, which is also the tallest waterfall in Oregon, and watch the water cascades down as far as the eyes can see.
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The best time to drive through this route is from spring through fall.
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6. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
This incredible tunnel built like no other is carved along the side and into the Taihang Mountains in China. The tunnel started as a way to ease the path for Gualiong villagers to the outside world. It was opened in 1977 and has turned the place into a tourist attraction.
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It is pretty mindboggling to know that the tunnel was carved out by only 13 people! The tunnel is only 1.2km long and would take merely 10 minutes but because of the narrow pathway (4 metres wide) and elevation, the drive can be suspenseful and probably not the best thing if you’re afraid of height!
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The view, however, is definitely something else. It is spectacular!
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7. Garden Route, South Africa
Driving through Garden Route is not just about scenic views because a trip here promises you a string of out-of-the-box activities. Imagine cage diving with crocodiles – yup, you can definitely do that in South Africa!
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The 200-km route takes you from Mossel Bay to Storms River through the beautiful plantations, mountains, and beaches of South Africa. Some of the places that you should not miss on this route are the Tsitsikamma Reserve, Knysna Elephant Park, Mossel Bay and Nature’s Valley. It takes about two days to complete this trip but you would probably stay longer at each stop just for the activities.
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Thrill seekers and outdoor lovers can take part in forest walks, bungee jumping, cage diving animals like sharks and crocodiles and ostrich riding. Where else can you find the biggest mammals on land roaming freely if not in South Africa?
8. North Coast 500, Scotland
Scotland’s answer to Route 66 is the North Coast 500, or NC500. The 830km-route starts and ends at the northern Scottish city of Inverness.
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A unique factor about this trip in Scotland is the amazing architectural structures along the way, including historical castles such as the Urquhart, Aldourie and Dunrobin Castles. Apart from the old ruins and buildings, Scotland is a beautiful country with its natural attractions such as the highlands, beaches and mountains with amazing views.
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The route is long but worth completing. Without any rush, you would most probably finish the loop over several weeks or you could also break the route into parts according to your schedule. And the government is so committed in promoting this route that there is an official website of NC500 that you can view here.
9. Muscat – Salalah, Oman
While a Mustang would have been perfect for that Route 66 trip and campervan is recommended to see the sights in New Zealand, the only way to track through this gem of the Middle East is by a four-wheel vehicle. It’s the perfect way to explore the country and you can start from the capital city Muscat to Salalah or the other way around.
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Driving off the road in Oman is almost like a sport. The terrains are different – from the desert, to the mountain, to the valley and shallow water, the experience is unique to a country such as Oman. Look out for the wadi (valley) near you and take some time off from driving by enjoying the clear, cooling, blue water at the wadi.
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Some of the places worth mentioning for you to keep an eye out during the road trip are Ras al Jinz Sea Turtle Reserve, Hajar Mountains, the historic city of Nizwa where you can see many forts and ruins from the past.
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10. Icefields Parkway, Canada
This route on the scenic Highway 93 takes drivers through Canada’s national treasures, the Jasper and Banff national parks. The road takes you through the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, giving you the view of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers and broad sweeping valleys.
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You can finish this trip in 3 days as the route is 232km long hence this trip won’t tire you out as much. The Canadian Rockies is said to be breath-taking. Don’t miss the chance to hike out to Peyto Lake and explore the Athabasca Glacier.
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The experience of being on the road is meant to be shared together, so bring along a loved one, whether a family member or a close friend, for this journey of a lifetime. While the destinations we’ve listed are exceptional and each is unique on its own, we bet that the most memorable thing you will take away on any road trip is the journey itself! Oh and don’t forget to share with us your road trip memories below 😊👇