Forget about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin doing the greatest moonwalk ever. Forget about James Cook stumbling across The Great Barrier Reef. And forget all about Otto Rohwedder and his commercial bread-slicing machine. The day that changed the world - more than any other - was the day Jack Kerouac finished writing On The Road (or as we love to call it: the day the road trip was born.)
There’s just something about stepping into a beat-up old car and heading from somewhere to anywhere. It’s that raw adventure into the unknown. It’s about loving the journey and having an exciting disregard for the destination. It’s the smell of burning rubber and the dizzying sight of white-lines vanishing under the hood of your car, one after another after another. It’s the sweet scent of freedom that comes with eating up the terrafirma of some forgotten pocket of the world as you chase the sunset, the songs blasting out of the radio reminding you it can be summertime all the time.
Yeah. When the road trip arrived - skidding sideways into the realm of modern mythology - soulless travel haunts fell to the wayside and a whole new experience took its place; a spine-tingling, hair-raising, memory-making and life-changing experience.
Jack Kerouac wrote about it, Dennis Hopper made a film about it and Bob Dylan sang about it, each of them adding to the grit and glamour of this offbeat adventure. They made us realise there’s something special about leaving the humdrums of everyday life in a dust-filled rearview mirror. It’s hard to explain how, but leaping into a car, turning the key, pushing your foot into the right-hand pedal and taking to the open road with a half-baked plan has a way of invigorating the soul like nothing else.
That’s its magic.
And it’s why we’ve pulled together a list of off-the-wall road trips so amazing they’ll change your life forever. It’s cliched, sure. But all the best things are. Actually, forget the term road trip. Let’s call these suckers epiphany trips.
The Garden Of Eden, South Africa
There are road trips and then there are road trips - the kind that makes you spill tears of joy as the wind rips through your six-day stubble and your heart beats through your white linen shirt. The Garden Route is the latter. Oh god is it the latter. It might only be 120-miles, but it packs in the very best South Africa has to offer. It’s where mountains meet the ocean and nothing to separate them but this winding stretch of road. It’s the kind of assault on your senses you’ll want to bottle up and spray on your wrists and neck before you leave the house each morning, calling it your Adventure Scent (or something else super-cheesy).
Anyway, starting at the old-fashioned fishing town of Mossel Bay, your eyes get to feast on a buffet of beautiful sights. Colonial buildings at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains, lost lagoons, sprawling lakes, giant forests, deserted beaches, jagged coastlines, some of the most irresistible stretches of surf anywhere on the planet and that impossibly addictive red dirt, all before you cruise past the vineyards of Stellenbosch; the sun-kissing your skin just in time for your arrival into Cape Town and your reservation at La Colombe.
From start to finish, you’ll repeat the word “Wow”. Think of it as an involuntary noise you’ll make at every turn, every corner and every new horizon.
A Taste Of Tuscany, Italy
When you hear the words ‘road trip’ and ‘Italy’ introduced in the same sentence, most people start trembling with fear, worried that The Road That Must Not Be Named (read: Stelvio Pass) is about to be mentioned. It’s is a stretch of tarmac that should come with a warning sign at the start: Faint-hearted turn back now. But we’re not about that sort of road trip. We’re about chasing the endless summer. We’re about the folding roof of a classic red convertible and the sort of gentle jaunt through a sweeping landscape that has been all-but-trademarked by Tuscany.
Armed with a confidence-sapping Alfa Romeo Spider (or a Fiat 500), every gentleman needs to make the pilgrimage from Florence to Orvieto at least twice a year. It’s less about the driving and more about enjoying two of Italy’s most magnificent medieval cities either side of exploring the delicious red and white treasures of Chianti and the swathes of classic Tuscan scenery. It’s a feast of Renaissance architecture, history-surviving art, billowing green hills, cypress trees, quintessential Italian villages and, of course, fine wine and even finer food. You’re in Brunello di Montalcino and bistecca country now, so ease off that accelerator and relax your reasons to pullover because this is road trip you’ll want to take at ambling pace.
Surrender To Big Sur, California
The Great American Road Trip. It’s a fantasy we’ve all tussled with at 2 o’clock in the morning, silently pining for an adventure in some far-flung corner of paradise, your everyday routine wanting a tonic for tired eyes. Well, we have that tonic: the California 1 from Monterey to Morro Bay. America is a huuuuuuge place (in case you somehow didn’t know), but this is it’s most staggering and scenic drive.
It has it all. Tarmac that twists and turns in a desperate attempt to cling onto the mountains and cliffs, the road climbing beyond 1,000ft before dropping back to sea-level, the thin air and top-of-the-world views quickly merging into sandy beaches fringed with pine trees, groves of pinch-yourself redwood and the sort of majestic moments that have become synonymous with the Big Sur State Park.
Every mile you rip through is mad. Crossing the Bixby Creek Bridge is mad. Catching your first sight of the Point Sur Light Station is mad. Seeing nature’s straightest line of Pacific Ocean meets sky is mad. And seeing the Big Sur river churn up big splashes of white froth and foam is mad. It’s all mad. The very best kind. And you’ll never want it to end, which is why you should grab the most cliched log cabin you can find and buckle down for a few nights of escapism, imagining yourself in a John Steinbeck novel, something like Tortilla Flat or Cannery Row.
The point is: life’s too short to live a life of reality all the time. Sometimes you’ve just got take off for fantasyland and live it to full.
Coasting The Amalfi, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is the best kind of rare. It’s dramatic in every sense of the word. The winding roads, narrow bridges, steep cliff tops, rugged scenery and unbelievable beauty. It’s a place that swaps idyllic white sands for vein-bulging white knuckles, your eyes refusing to blink out of fear for your life and a fear of missing out as you try and stick to the loops, swoops and hairpin hair-raisers. But as the curves become tighter and the roads become narrower, the views get even more dramatic and distracting, your passengers reaping the rewards for your bravery as some of the most stunning views flash past like a circus train.
Rugged shorelines, pastel-coloured fishing villages, terraced vineyards, lemon groves clinging to cliff-sides, the sort of breath-snatching sunsets that can’t possibly exist anywhere else, and
near-vertical towns that cascade down impossibly precipitous hillsides; the vibrant houses stacked on top of one another like Jenga-pieces pieced together by a toddler.
Much like the Cronut, it’s hard to believe this actually exists. It’s just too good to be true.
The Costa Of Curiosity, Brazil
There’s only one thing better than a road trip, and that’s a road trip specked with ferry rides, which is exactly what this five-day excursion is, taking you from the port city of Santos to the story-filled beach of Copacabana. Magical islands, endless views from the top of the Erra de Mar mountains, pretty palm trees, and the cobbled streets of Brazil’s most romantic city, Paraty. It’s a cocktail of colonial houses, boutique boltholes and the kind of long restaurant-laden beaches that will see you and your significant lover discuss the possibility of maybe never going home.
This 370-mile coastal adventure has got it all. The views, the romance, pinch-yourself-moments that make you feel like you’re dreaming, and a plethora of beach strolls and hillside hikes, all of which will make your final push into the pulsating, bombastic and swashbuckling city of Rio much more climatic - the hillside favelas and Sugarloaf Mountain all towering over the you as you pull up at the famous Copacabana beach and the most perfect palms you’ve have ever seen.
Want an epiphany trip, you’ve got your epiphany trip.
Nothing But Ocean, Australia
Wine, surfing, avocado on sourdough toast, scenic road trips - these are all celebrated as being quintessential Californian things. And they have a point. But if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s this: Australia does all of these things just as well, and maybe even a little bit better, especially when it comes to jaw-on-tarmac road trips. Yup. That’s right. We’re talking about Down Under’s Great Ocean Road. You could drive around the world as much as you like, you’ll not find a more soul-stirring stretch of road than the one of Australia’s southern coast.
The road’s not perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But the lack of maintenance and rough patches green zeal only adds of the rustic allure of this rugged route. Every twist and turn hugs the cliff for dear life, every new seascape has the ability to break Instagram and the lush rainforest that forever fills your rearview mirror only adds to the reasons why you need to hire a ute and explore the near-deserted beaches and staggering rock formations of this summer-loving utopia.
What’s more, you also get to chuckle at the Aussie’s maths skills as you count all eight of The Twelve Apostles… Oh, c’mon. We’re only joking. We believe you really when you say it’s natural erosion.
And there we have it. Six more adventures to add to your bucket list.
Thanks for reading. For more ideas on how to embrace the endless summer, chase the horizon and keep your skin sun-kissed all year round, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and sign-up for a naughty-little newsletter at the bottom of the page! (you’ll get a cheeky 10% off if you do).