Travel

Ten Best Road Trips

The sight of a road winding off into the distance is enough to give anyone itchy feet – and according to a recent survey*, almost a third of us followed that urge in 2016 by booking a road trip.

We asked travel expert, Cathy Winston, editor at 101 Holidays, for advice and she recommends the following for the ultimate road trip.

Whether you fancy cruising along the winding coast of Italy or one of America’s classic routes, sticking closer to home or exploring some of the world’s wildest landscapes, there’s a choice for every budget too. Find a luxury escape for your honeymoon, pick your own path on a solo driving holiday or head off as a family: there’s a road trip to suit everyone.

1. TRAVEL SCOTLAND'S HIGH ROAD


There are no worries about unusual driving restrictions or language barriers and, with Scotland’s spectacular islands, lochs and glens to discover, it’s certainly not second best. Travel in style behind the wheel of a classic British sports car or even a Ferrari Spider with McKinlay Kidd. I love their fly-drive itinerary to Skye and the Hebrides - archaeological treasures, white sand beaches and stunning unspoiled scenery await.

From £895 per person for six nights including some flights, ferry transfer, B&B hotel accommodation and car hire. www.mckinlaykidd.com

2. CRUISE ALONG THE AMALFI COAST


Italy isn’t short of ways to experience la dolce vita, but the chance to drive along the Amalfi coast and discover the beauty of southern Italy is especially tempting. Italy specialist, Long Travel, has a variety of tailor-made self-drive trips. For a taste of the best of southern Italy, start your journey in Positano, Ravello and Capri to soak up the sights before heading to less discovered Basilicata and Puglia, in the heel of Italy, renowned for its unique trulli villages and wonderful food.

This 15 night trip costs from £1,319 per person, including accommodation in characterful hotels and car hire. www.long-travel.co.uk

3. FOODIES' SPAIN


Whether you were inspired by Rick Stein’s culinary tour of Spain or simply enjoy great food and wine, Northern Spain is a treasure trove of foodie treats. Caminos has created a number of fly-drive itineraries which take in fantastic beaches, mountain scenery, art, architecture and buzzing cities as well as the best of the wineries and gastronomic restaurant recommendations. Their seven-night Taste of the North trip travels from Bilbao to Santander via La Rioja.

It costs from £550 per person including car hire and hotel accommodation (flights or ferry crossing not included). www.caminos.co.uk

4. SEE THE FJORDS


Norway is a great choice for a self-drive holiday with its gentle pace and spectacular fjords and glaciers, picturesque towns and lush green countryside. There’s no bad route to take, whether you’re keen to twist around hairpin bends or mix the driving with exploring on two feet.
Nordic Experience has some great itineraries, including free days with suggestions on what to do, so you can create your own perfect route – don’t miss Sognefjord, the longest and deepest one in Norway, and a ride on the famous Flåm Railway.

From £915 per person including flights, car hire and six nights’ B&B hotel accommodation.
www.nordicexperience.co.uk

5. HEAD INTO THE WILD


If you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten track, you needn’t leave Europe to find one. Driving Iceland’s ‘ring road’, as the spectacular Highway One is known, is unbeatable for a dramatic trip. From whales to waterfalls, puffins to ice floes and geysers, you could even spot the elusive Northern Lights or make the most of the midnight sun. Regent Holidays has a string of fly-drive options including a 4x4 to tackle the wildest paths.

The eight-day Iceland Express costs from £1,460 per person including flights, hotel accommodation and car hire, with longer itineraries available. www.regent-holidays.co.uk

6. GET YOUR KICKS IN AMERICA


The home of the road trip, the USA’s vast open highways and historic routes would take a lifetime to explore. Whether you fancy cruising along Big Sur or discovering Big Sky country, experiencing Southern charm or New England elegance, Florida’s beaches or the Great Lakes, there are year-round options. If you’re not sure where to start, specialists American Sky has dozens of ideas to get you going, including motorhome options. The classic Route 66 road trip takes you from Chicago to Los Angeles, via the US heartland and the bright lights of Las Vegas.

15 nights costs from £1,729 per person including flights, car hire and accommodation. www.americansky.co.uk

7. SELF-DRIVE SAFARI STYLE


Africa might not top the list for a first road trip holiday, but pick the right country and a self-drive safari with some added exploring is both fabulous and achievable. It’s a great option for families and couples and it’s possible to avoid malarial zones too. The specialists at Aardvark Safaris have personal experience of their routes in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, while Mahlatini has created a truly luxurious self-drive honeymoon in Namibia.

8. CRUISE THROUGH CUBA


Havana is rightly famous for its vintage American cars but once you’ve explored the historic capital, don’t miss the chance to discover the rest of the island behind the wheel of your own vehicle.
Spot wildlife in the island’s biosphere reserve and see tobacco plantations before visiting colourful colonial Trinidad and the beaches of Varadero on Western & Oriental’s Classic Cuba 15-day self-drive tour.

It costs from £2,470 per person, including flights, accommodation and car hire, excluding car insurance and some fees. www.westernoriental.com

9. CHILE AND PATAGONIA


For vast open spaces, snow-capped Andes mountains, glittering blue lakes and flower-filled meadows, hit the road in Chile. Journey Latin America has created a choice of self-drive itineraries. This inspiring two-week self-drive holiday combines Chile’s beautiful Lake District with southern Patagonia and its world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk

10. AUSTRALIA'S GREAT OCEAN ROAD


The sheer scale of Australia can be overwhelming if you’re looking at a road trip but there are plenty of routes which are achievable in a two or three week holiday. Make the most of next year’s non-stop flights to Perth and look for whale sharks and explore wonderful national parks in Western Australia.

For arguably the country’s most spectacular road trip, drive from Melbourne through the vineyards and beaches to the Great Ocean Road to spot the iconic Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.

Trailfinders has a 12-day fly-drive holiday from £1,351 per person based on two sharing, including car hire and accommodation, excluding international flights. www.trailfinders.com

HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT ROAD TRIP

Before you go – check the local rules of the road, as they’ll vary from country to country. Some might require you to have particular equipment (and even specify where to keep it in the car), others may need special devices for toll roads.

Know your limits – how far are you happy to drive every day, and would you feel comfortable driving at night? It’s particularly important if you’re travelling solo or are the only driver, as long hours behind the wheel are unsafe as well as a less than fun holiday.

Consider back-up – if there’s a problem along the way, would you feel happy handling it yourself? If you’re heading off the beaten track, it’s worth booking with a tour operator specialising in the area to advise or offering a 24-hour support line. And expert tips on everything from local driving conditions to suggested stop-offs will always come in handy.

Remember the practicalities – always make sure you have enough petrol and water, especially if there are long gaps between towns and services, as well as a good map or traffic alerts for the journey.

For more inspiration visit 101 Holidays

*research data from booking.com

August 2017

Hero image, courtesy of Johannes Plenio