Road trips are perhaps my favourite type of travel. The beauty of road trips is in setting your own schedule and having the freedom to deviate from plans as odd, fun or surprising roadside attractions and diversions pop up unexpectedly.
Road trips may not be the most relaxing way to travel, but I think they’re the most rewarding. I’ll give train travel the nod of approval for most relaxing, but you can’t stop the train every time you pass by an amazing waterfall or feel like wandering around some random town in the middle of nowhere. How about planes? Well, what kind of wildlife can you spot out your window when you’re 40,000 feet up, assuming you snagged a window seat.
While not as cheap as it once was, if you’re roadtripping with friends, it can still be one of the most economical ways to travel too, especially if you’re interested in camping, which can greatly cut down on daily costs.
You don’t really need anything for a road trip either. You don’t need to buy a ticket and you likely won’t have to go through any security scans. With just a general sense of direction and a vehicle you’re on your way. If you don’t have your own vehicle, rental cars can be quite affordable too, especially if you are a member of AAA/CAA and get certain coverage from your credit card. On my upcoming road trip I rented an SUV for 6 day, for less than $150.
There are also ways to take a road trip virtually for free, by being a hired driver. There are many pros and cons to that option, something I’ll write about in-depth in the future.
For me, my road trips have usually been camping road trips closer to home, but I’ve also rented a Campervan in New Zealand and stayed in hotels while driving across the US. I’ve done a solo 4000 mile road trip through Wyoming and Utah, but I’ve also done a crazy 14 hour road trip in one day.
I used to even have a makeshift ‘compass’ and bunch of dice I kept in the car for random road trips. You’d spin the compass marker around and would have to drive in that direction for as far as the number of dice you rolled. It was a great way to spend a weekend and discover some random places on the road!
Again, that’s the beauty of road trips…short, long, near or far…it’s an unstructured way to travel where you never know what you’ll find around the next corner.
Soon, I’ll start up a little series here, with stories from past road trip adventures. For now, here are a few roadtrips I’m thinking of doing in the near future…who wants to join me?
1 – Drive to the Arctic. As much as I want to visit Alaska and the Territories of Canada, I think my first Arctic roadtrip will be to James Bay. You can actually drive there by taking a 600km long Hydro Quebec road in northern Quebec called the James Bay Road. It’s only about a 1500km drive from Toronto, shorter than some road trips I’ve taken! With 382km between service stations, this stretch of road is more remote than even the Dempster Highway in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
2 – Visit the Dakotas and Badlands National Park. Perhaps the most American road trip on the list. I almost did this road trip a few years ago, but decided to go elsewhere. The Badlands look amazing, wild and pure. While not far away there are some forests and state parks, as well as Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. If you time it right and go in the summer, apparently the fireworks displays at Mt. Rushmore during 4th of July are among the best in the country.
3 – Big Island, Hawaii. The two Hawaiian islands that interest me most are Kauai and Hawaii (Big Island). Kauai interests me mostly for some great hiking and lush scenery, while the Big Island seems perfect for a roadtrip. From snowy peaks to flowing lava, remote coastlines to relaxing Kona. The island has tons to see, but you need a car to see it all.
4 – Drive to the Yukon. I’ve never done an actual road trip across Canada. Ideally a drive from Toronto to Whitehorse, Yukon would be my route, stopping at Provincial and National Parks along the way like Quetico, Riding Mountain, Elk Island and Nahanni.
5 – Pacific Northwest. Another US roadtrip. This time to Oregon and Washington. Taking in some forest scenery and places like Olympic National Park. Perhaps a side trip over to Idaho and Montana to check out Glacier National Park too.
So there are five of the road trips I’m interested in doing some time soon. Sure, there are places in Europe, Australia and elsewhere that I’d also like to go road tripping around, but I’ll save those for a later time.
If you’ve got some favourite road trips, let me know! Have fun on the road and remember, as is often said, to focus on the journey and not the destination.