Road tripping around the world
You don’t have to be a speed freak to love a good road trip. It’s not about the destination; it’s about being on the road with your friends or family, with nothing to worry about except your next pit stop. Ever thought about taking it a step further? We’ve pulled together some great road trips from around the world that are perfect for your next adventure. It’s time to get your driving playlist ready, pack your bags and hit the road!
The Pacific Coast Highway by Mustang – California, USA
What better way to see the coast of California than from the driver’s seat of a convertible Mustang, with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face? Experience the quintessential American dream on a highway that has been frequented by surfers and stars alike. The roads are wide open, the temperature is balmy and the views are stunning.
The drive begins in San Francisco, a beautiful city of eclectic neighbourhoods, great food and steep streets. Cruise the Golden Gate Bridge and even add the world’s steepest street to your driving experience – although it’s still up for debate whether it’s steeper than Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand!
Continue down to Santa Cruz, where you can stop at the fun park for some thrills and good old American hot dogs. Next is Monterey and Big Sur, with waterfalls, high bridges and breathtaking coastline. Keep your eyes peeled as it’s common to see whales along this part of the coast. There are plenty of diners and cafes along the way, so you can enjoy fresh seafood right by the ocean whenever you like.
The open road takes you past endless white sand and sapphire waters, right down until you reach the upmarket beach town of Mailbu. Cruising by the ocean with the top down is the ultimate in freedom and relaxation, watching the world pass by through bustling cities, empty beaches and everything in between. Just remember, even in a Mustang you’re not too cool for a seatbelt. We’d rather see a claim for bruised ribs than something worse…
Nurburgring by BMW Race Car - Germany
If you’re passionate about beautiful cars and high speed rides, you’ve no doubt heard of the famous Nurburgring in Germany, the longest permanent race track in the world. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s over 20km long and has over 300m of elevation throughout the circuit, or that it’s so large there’s often rain in one section and sun in another. Just so you’re aware, you’re not covered for motorsports under our travel insurance policies, so it may be safer to err on the side of caution and be a spectator rather than a participant!
If you’re keen on covering another highlight while in Germany, you could also drive through the famous “Schwarzwald” or Black Forest. Driving on the beautiful winding forest roads past picturesque gothic towns is like something from a fairy tale. Don’t forget to stop in at Triberg and have a piece of the famous Black Forest Gateau while you’re there!
Karakoram Highway by Jeep – Pakistan and China
After some adventure at altitude? Then head to Pakistan and drive the Karakoram Highway. It’s one of the highest paved roads in the world and crosses the Himalayan Mountains from Pakistan into Southern China.
You’ll go through the Khunjerab Pass, which at 4,690m is the highest border crossing in the world. The sky high vistas will leave you breathless – and not just from the altitude!
This highway follows one of the paths of the ancient Silk Road, through rugged passes and tiny villages. Make sure you don’t miss the 3,000-year-old rock carvings near the town of Chilas – among the oldest in the world.
You can take a bus along this road, but the bus drivers are notoriously reckless. It can be more enjoyable to drive and be in control – just stay sharp and don’t let the view distract you.
The road is a paved highway and although you don’t need a 4x4 to complete this journey, the Jeep is the popular choice of the locals along these roads. Get amongst it and join them, as you drive through what is considered by some the eighth wonder of the ancient world.
The highway is safe, but it always pays to check with Smartraveller.gov.au for any warnings around Pakistan, Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. It’s also smart to do your research and respect the local culture by dressing modestly – or you may end up with a little more adventure than you bargained for!
Route 66 by RV – USA
The USA is practically made for campervans, or RVs as they’re popularly known. Long, flowing highways with multiple lanes and wide parking bays make for relaxing, hassle free driving through some amazing locations. What better way to explore than by following the famous historic Route 66 right across the USA?
Although parts of it are now covered by interstate highways, many original sections are still preserved. There are many rental companies in the USA where you can get a good rate on an RV, so take your pick and remember we can cover you as long as you’re renting from a legitimate vehicle rental company and the vehicle carries no more than eight people, including the driver.
The route is dotted with restored buildings and historic markers along the way, that take you back to the 1920s when Route 66 was known as the ‘Main Street of America.’ Travel from bustling, gritty Chicago through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. This is one of the last remaining links to the old American frontier trails, where travellers would meet on the road from all walks of life.
Today, you can still meet fellow travellers, share stories and form friendships on this historical trail through the heart of the country. Watch the landscape change dramatically from farmlands, forests and rolling hills, to the great golden plains; through green mountains and rivers to the arid desert; before finally reaching the West Coast and the Pacific Ocean; all without leaving your temporary home on wheels!
Tour De France Alpine Roads by Bicycle – France
Europeans are crazy about cycling! They love everything about it, from watching some of the world’s best races and idolizing cycling stars, to riding their own bikes as much as possible. This is probably why the Tour De France is the world’s most famous cycling race, attracting fans from around the globe.
For the real cycling enthusiast, it probably doesn’t get better than joining a guided cycling tour of the French Alps section of this legendary race. Join hundreds of other riders on this pilgrimage up some of the most well-known climbs from the route, while being cheered on by spectators and fellow riders alike.
You’ll follow winding country roads through quaint French villages and beautiful alpine landscapes, even riding underneath ski lifts! Cycling is a great way to take in the full experience including all the sights, smells and camaraderie that you could miss in a car. At the end of each day, you can look forward to refuelling on the unbeatable French cuisine, too.
Of course, you’ll appreciate the breathtaking view from the top that much more when you’ve earned it. Just don’t forget, we can’t cover you for competing in professional sports, so don’t worry about trying to race with the pros, just take your time and relax! Once you’re through the Alps, you can head over to Paris to watch the final stage on the Champs Elysees, complete with floats, music and all the festivities you can imagine.
Isle of Man TT Motorcycle Races – Isle of Man
Imagine watching with no fences or barriers between you and the road, as the world’s fastest motorbike racers roar past within arm’s reach! There are very few places in the world where this is possible, and the Isle of Man is one of them.
It’s safe to say every motorcyclist in the world has heard of this heart-stopping road race held in June each year. The world’s longest motorbike road race is set on a tiny, rugged island in the middle of the Irish Sea, on roads that are as wild as the weather.
The course is over 60km per lap and the riders have to negotiate sharp turns, bumps, jumps and stone walls at speeds of over 200kph. There are multiple races for different classes of bike, including sidecars. Each race is equally thrilling to watch, with the roar of the engines pulsing in your ears as the bikes speed past. Spectators also have access to the paddock area, where you could be lucky enough to meet one of your racing heroes in the flesh.
Unfortunately, we can’t cover you for motorsport, so if you catch the racing bug, you’ll have to be content with just watching for now. When you’ve had your fill of the TT races, check out one of the ancient castles on the Isle or pay a visit to the ethereal fairy bridge and make a wish. You never know, it might come true!
Iceland Ring Road by 4x4 – Iceland
Looking for a scenic drive where you can take in beautiful landscapes ranging from vivid blue fjords to volcanic terrains and geysers? Try a lap of Iceland’s Ring Road to get back to nature. It’s a 1,339km long sealed loop with varied terrain offshoots, so you’ll want to hire a 4x4 to access some of the side roads along the way.
Snow tyres are essential if you’re not doing this drive in the summer months. With beautiful locations like the UNESCO World Heritage Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Goðafoss waterfalls and Lake Mývatn, you’re sure to be awe-struck, if not tongue-tied! Imagine visiting a lagoon of floating blue icebergs, or exploring crystal clear ice caves under glaciers, before sleeping under the Aurora Borealis each night.
The landscape here is similar to the moon in parts and was used by NASA for astronaut training in the 60’s. Needless to say, you don’t want to be stuck without gas around here, so make sure you know where the nearest petrol stations and start your journey on a full tank.
No matter what you do, be prepared to have your mind blown by some of the most spectacular natural scenery you may ever encounter – just don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road while driving!
Remember, you’re covered when renting vehicles overseas as long as you obey all road rules and have a valid driver’s licence. If you’re planning on venturing beyond the main ring road, stick to paved roads, as we can’t cover you for incidents occurring off-road.
Canadian Rockies by RV – Alberta and BC, Canada
The Icefield Parkway is one of the greatest highroads in the world. It meanders through the beautiful national parks of Banff and Jasper, home to an abundance of native wildlife and offering breathtaking views.
The highway even goes under 44 wildlife crossings in the Banff National Park, where animals can cross from one side of the highway to the other, without leaving the forest. You can not only travel in comfort, but spot wildlife like moose, caribou, elk, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and even wolves, without having to leave the highway.
Like the USA, these wide and well-sealed highways are perfect for RVs and you’ll surely meet others along the way to compare notes on wildlife sightings. If fishing is your thing, do the trip in summer so you can go fly fishing in the beautiful Moraine Lake or Bow River. If you’re a snow bunny, the same trip can be done in winter so you can enjoy the powder of the many ski fields along the route.
If you haven’t driven an RV before, it’s worth trying one out at home before planning a whole trip – or consider lessons before venturing out on your own. The highways in the Rockies are among the friendliest RV roads you’ll come across, even for beginner RV drivers, so what’s stopping you?
Five things to remember when hitting the road overseas:
- Know the road rules of the country you’re in - and follow them. If you don’t know them, spend some time brushing up before you start driving. Also ensure you have a valid licence!
- Always wear your safety belt, even when relaxing in the back of a moving RV.
- Take five minutes at the start to photograph any scratches, dents or problems with the vehicle you’re renting. It could save you any arguments when you return it!
- If you feel the need for speed and want to try racing for yourself, you’ll need to get specialist insurance for motorsports, as we can’t cover you for this.
- You’re not insured for driving vehicles that aren’t rented from a legitimate rental company, so the dodgy guy down the street offering you his Jeep isn’t your safest bet. Likewise, if you want to borrow your friend’s car, you’ll need to make sure you’re covered under their vehicle insurance.
Now you’re armed with all the knowledge you need to embark on your best road trip ever, so what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, plan your route and get ready for adventure!
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