Road trips

Here, I’ll share my thoughts on the types of road trips you can go on, as well details of my own journeys – in Australia, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand – to help you get an idea of what is out there for the budding road-tripper.

There are many approaches you could take, and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to travel. I have enjoyed a variety of different styles of travel when it comes to road trips, across different countries, at different times of year, and different climates – from very hot, to below freezing. Planning well is essential to getting the most out of it.

Life on the road

It isn’t easy as you might think. You have to adapt if you are conditioned to comfort and forego the usual conveniences of modern life. Now, there’s certainly a spectrum between comfort and roughing it when on the road. How so, you ask? One may choose to sleep in the car and, to some, that may seem abhorrent. To me, it’s a perfect way to get the most out of a road trip. You can sleep wherever you want (within reason): whether that’s under a mountain, next to a lake, or by the beach. If you own or can afford to rent a campervan – which usually come at a higher price than a car – you can travel without giving up too much comfort, too.

Having said that, with age and some extra spending money, nowadays I won’t say no to a night with a nice bed, even if it means missing out on a night under the stars. And I can still have a very immersive trip, exploring nature and the wild. However, it does mean giving up some of the joys and flexibility of road trips.

Where you go, what you see, and how you do it, are all up to you. The amount of time you have, the distance you want to drive, as well as the kind of activities you want to do, will dictate the planning of your trip.

The Rewards

The rewards of a road trip heavily outweigh any negatives. Road trips allow you to spend extended time outdoors, in nature, driving through valleys, over mountains, through forests, or along the coast. Sleeping in your vehicle means you can watch the sunrise or sunset each and every day.

Contrasting to my life at home where I have not owned a car, I have grown a love for driving in the most beautiful natural destinations in the world. The drive itself becomes part of the thrill, especially when around every corner there is a another fantastic view of stunning scenery, and new landscapes to discover.

Where you go, what you see and do, are all up to you. The location, the amount of time you have, and the distance you want to drive will all influence your decisions when planning your trip.

How long have you got?

Two weeks or more: Driving adventures of more than two weeks tend to be epic, marathon road trips. The extended travel time allows you to fully delve into your surroundings, with flexibility to stop at many spots at your leisure, venture into more than one country, and possibly discover places you didn’t even know existed. The trip may be planned beforehand or you can make it up as you go. With time to spare, these trips allow a degree of spontaneity and freedom to take your time and explore at your own pace.

A week to ten days: this offers the chance to travel a pre-planned route, with enough time to enjoy your time away, whether it’s action-packed, relaxing, or a combination of both. This length of trip is more accessible for those in full time employment, yet still offers the opportunity to immerse yourself into your chosen destinations. In my view, it would be best to plan a detailed itinerary to ensure you maximise the time you have. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a day to chill, as you will find, a week or two on the road is still very demanding – particularly when you spend the vast majority of it outdoors.

A long weekend: three or four days is enough time to get out on the road, perhaps providing a quick escape from the everyday life, or a quick excursion to that destination on your bucket list. There’s plenty to see and do in even a mini break, so, what might have been another routine weekend may be transformed into anything from an exhilarating adventure, or a quiet getaway. Even just a few days of cooking outdoors, sleeping under the stars, and waking up in nature, discovering new lands, can be unforgettable.

My road trips

Below are the countries and regions I have been able to travel by car. And the trips are of varying time and distance, from a few days to several weeks. I have been fortunate to experience road trips across many different landscapes, throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. While I have a penchant for driving through mountainous regions, I have enjoyed trips through the Australian desert, along the New Zealand coast, during the piercing cold of Quebecois winter, short trips in Europe, and around my native United Kingdom.

Australia is a huge continent and a road-trippers dream. Much of it, The Outback, is dry and desolate – you can truly go off and grid to the remote desert. There are countless popular destinations, too, from the tropical North, the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef, the vast Western state to the milder Tasmania, as well as the famous Great Ocean Road and Uluru.

Unsurprisingly, as the second largest country in the world, Canada offers boundless road travel. In the West, Alberta and British Columbia, the scenery is stunning. While there is plenty to see across the rest of the country also, from, lakes, forest, great plains, tundra, coasts, and, last but not least, amazing – if a little scary – wildlife.

Europe, despite dense population centres and some areas of over development, has great potential for road trips. The terrain varies spectacularly, from Scandinavia to Spain, Germany to Greece, Ireland to Italy. Eastern Europe is an understated region with plenty to offer and the UK – my home – is a small yet delightful road trip destination.

New Zealand is simply extraordinary. For two relatively small islands, there is so much to see. I could spend a year travelling the country from North to South, and back again. New Zealand has something for everyone – mountains, beaches, surfing, skiing, sun, snow, lakes, forests, hiking, and plenty of scenic roads to travel on.