There’s simply no better way to explore a country than grabbing the wheel and heading off on a road trip; it’s a great means to soak up amazing vistas, unearth local oddities and step into unfamiliar societies. If you needed any further persuasion, though, here are my personal 11 reasons why we should get into gear for the adventure of a lifetime.
1. Spending time with a loved one
There are plenty of opportunities for serious one-to-one time on a road trip. You could whisk your beloved off to the bewitching Verdon Gorge circuit in Provence, or fall for the Romantic Road in southern Germany. Alternatively, India’s Golden Triangle tour of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra is also irresistible. And as a monument to enduring love, Agra’s Taj Mahal will warm even the hardest heart.
2. Enjoying panoramic views
Whether you’re into Audis or Arabian Nights, you’ll admire Morocco’s Atlas Mountain Road. After we wound our way to the 6,000-ft-tall peak of the Tizi-n-‘Tichka Pass, we started over the Souss Valley and made out the mysterious Anti-Atlas mountains appearing through the haze; they will cast their magic spell over you too. Just don’t forget your camera!
3. Watching wildlife
Head down Mexico way for a really wild time. After all, you can coast from Cancún to the Yucatán Peninsula without navigating a single city. Once you’re there, you’ll spot jungle cats and whale sharks at the Yum Balam Nature Reserve. Then why not motor onto Celestún, past the famous flocks of flamingos? Nothing beats being able to spy these wonderful creatures in their natural habitats.
4. Taking legendary routes
Route 66 may be an oldie, but is still definitely a goldie. As quintessentially American as The Stars and Stripes, if offers the grit of Chicago as the journey begins, the drama of the Grand Canyon at its heart, and the sensational sunset at Santa Monica’s iconic pier as it finishes; for its 2,000 miles we felt like we were really living an American Dream.
5. Meeting the locals
Bolivia’s Death Road may sound like an incredibly place to break down; it was, indeed, once deemed the world’s most dangerous road. It’s one of those routes that you can’t really prepare your car for. When this nightmare befell us, though, we ended up making friends with the guys from the nearest garage as they got us back on track. Protip: carburetor is carburador in Spanish. You’re welcome!
6. Sampling regional food
Navigating the tight turns of the Italian Amalfi Coast Road feels like driving round a particularly curly piece of fusilli (‘twisted spaghetti’). The good news is that there are plenty of places to enjoy different specialties of the places you visit. We started in Salento with the freshest seafood served near the port, and ended up in Sorrento tucking into melting mozzarella. Delizioso …
7. Seeing the whole island
The idyllic Mahé in the Seychelles is a brilliant place to tour round – literally. After all, there is a road that loops the whole of the beautiful island. This means that if you jump in the car you can be sure that you don’t miss a single beach or hiking trail. And where they are as stunning as these, it would be wrong not to explore as many as you possibly can.
8. Following in famous footsteps
Calling all Merc fans! You can recreate the 66-mile trip Bertha Benz took from Mannheim, Germany to Pforzheim in 1888. Commandeering a car her husband was developing, she proved that cars could travel long distances; this was a marketing triumph for the family firm, now known as Mercedes-Benz. The Bertha Benz Memorial Route opened in 2008 and is worth a jaunt of your own.
9. Discovering quirky corners
If you fancy a weird but wonderful slice of American pie, look no further than the Deep South. Our journey from Richmond, Virginia to New Orleans alone took us past a water tower that looks like a peach, a giant chicken statue sitting in the back of a truck and the drive-thru Museum of Wonder. Need I say more?
10. Stepping into a sports car Bible
The writers at EVO magazine created the perfect test drive over the Denbigh Moors in north Wales. Dubbed the EVO Triangle, this 20-mile slalom of hairpin bends and seriously steep ascents were already familiar from the magazine the first time I visited. It was one of the most memorable road trips in the UK. And even if you don’t have the latest Porsche (yet) either, here you can imagine you do – for a moment or two, anyway.
11. Engaging with different cultures
The 150-mile-long Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, highlights the country’s abundant aboriginal heritage. You can check out an indigenous settlement at Lake Condah and later appreciate myths (plus local arts and crafts) as you pass the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. And for more contemporary culture, do try the National Surfing Museum in Torquay at the eastern end of the road.