Tips on Taking A Detour Down The Right Road.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of hitting the open road or heading out on roads less traveled, the iconic and nostalgic Road Trip is perhaps the best option for giving oneself the freedom to explore, have an adventure and experience the best of any place by really venturing into the heart and soul of a location or country and getting the feel for the ebb and flow of each state/province and its varied landscapes. Immortalized in travelogues, film and song, the ROAD TRIP is perhaps the most nostalgic form of travel.

Over the years, I have traveled many countries and done a fair few roads trips of my own, favoring the art of road travel with grandiose itineraries and mapped out routs compared to the cushy and comfortable resort type stays or mediocre bus tours which leave you exhausted and feeling little appreciation for the places and sights you encounter along the way, as you tour on the clock feeling like you have taken part in your own episode of the amazing race.

There are many fantastic road tripping destinations.


Perhaps the most romanticized and renowned route of them all being the 2000 + mile journey, the grandfather of road trips – the iconic Route 66, from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. The ultimate nostalgic journey and time warp back into a bygone era. Although, only portions of the original highway and route remain, it is still a historic drive not to be missed.

This route in many ways laid the foundation for road trips and cross country travel.

North America is blessed to have an array of corridors and routes to choose from:


PCH1 (Pacific Coast Highway) which extends from San Diego, Socal (Southern California) right up to Norcal (Northern California) and the city by the bay, San Francisco is also a firm favourite.

The Great River Road following the mighty Mississippi River from Minnesota down South to Cajun country and the state of Louisiana.

US Route 1 takes you for a ride up the Eastern coast of the USA allowing you to delve into the very beginnings of American colonial history in New England before being transported all the way down South ending in multi-cultural Miami where the Latino Flair and vibes run wild and beach goers tan on sun kissed beaches.

Trans Canada Highway Sign

Alternate options are hitting the Trans-Canada Highway and doing the 7600 km sea to sea route from the far west coast of British Columbia to the very east coast Maritimes. This route is the lifeblood of passage across the great country of Canada and really connects the core sights which define Canada’s identity.


One of Canada and North America’s most scenic drives and described as the world’s most spectacular journey’s can be found on the 232 km (144 mile) Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) from Banff to Jasper in the province of Alberta, which takes drivers through the heart of the legendary Rocky Mountains and its pristine wilderness parks, magical lakes, endless forest, craggy peaks, mountain passes and age-old glaciers.

w alaska hwy signfb

Last but not least and worthy of mention, is the 1500 miles of open road through north-west Canada on the great Alaska Highway which is another out this world highway to encounter. The route takes you through much of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory before arriving in the US State of Alaska.

There is nothing better than jumping into the car, feeling the wind at your back and to hit the open road with little or no plan.

Road Trip Pic 5

However, there are a few things one should consider before partaking in such a trip.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly is to let go of any kind of pre-existing notion you have of the common organized means of travel. In order to truly enjoy and make the most of your road trip experience, you will need to release yourself from the confines of rigid itineraries and deadlines. If not, it will only stress you out and give you a bad overall experience. If you depart with an open mind and plan to take your time and just go with the flow, so to speak, you will have a much grander time.

Secondly  you need to decide on the mode of transport that will best fit your vision for a trip.

Will you rent or buy and what is the best option for your road trip?

Renting can quickly become a pricey option, especially for lengthy trips.

Accommodation is a factor to consider too.
Do you plan to go gypsy style and crash in your vehicle too?
If this is the case, perhaps a station wagon or larger vehicle that has more space to carry belonging and allows enough room to recline and sleep is a better option.

You could go for the ubiquitous camper van and RV, which might serve a better option if on the road for a while. Not only will it save you money on accommodation but will provide some semblance of “home” and comfort while on the road. This option is usually best if road tripping with a few friends as the cost of these rentals can also turn out fairly pricey.

One company to recommend is: 
This camper van rental company has exploded over the years with branches in North America, Australia & New Zealand providing an alternative and cost effective means of travel combined with modest accommodation and kitchen facilities. These killer camper vans come with their own stylish graffiti emblazoned paintwork and off the wall risqué inscriptions to really make you stand out on the road.
Whether driving your own “Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine”, “60’s Hippy Style Surf Van” or a van spray painted with the words “Honk if you love Jesus”, these vans already add a zany start to your trip.

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An alternate option may be to forgo any kind of rental and look into purchasing a temporary vehicle that will save you money. Particularly, if on the road for a few months or doing a work and travel year abroad. Whether it is a basic vehicle to simply get you from point A to point B, a mini-van or a camper van for longer cross country travel, sites like Craigslist and Kajiji are a haven for backpackers and travelers trying to porn off and get rid of their used vehicles.

Hostels are also a perfect spot to pickup deals on vehicles.
Most hostels have notice boards where travelers post vehicles up for sale at good deals.

Thirdly  consider the type of companions and compadre’s you might like to have travel with you. No two travelers are ever the same and this can drastically shape the outcome of your road tripping experience. Are you going with family, close friends, picking up other like minded travelers along the way or doing it solo?
Working out the right fit to this puzzle will give you a picture perfect start and prevent you from wanting to ditch your fellow passenger’s mid-way along some abandoned desert road.

Fourth – it is a good idea to have at least a rough guideline, agenda and idea as to the areas and territory you are most interested in seeing and covering.
The highways’ might offer the quickest and most direct route from one point to another, however you will be missing the whole point of the road tripping experience by confining yourself to this option. It is those small sandy side roads, un-marked turn-off’s, regional roads and obscure back roads that will give you the most satisfying and rewarding experiences as you venture off the beaten track.
A GPS however, offers huge assistance and saves time when navigating your way around. Most important is to not set an overly ambitious itinerary. Too many times I have fallen into this trap. The last thing you want is to tire yourself out behind the wheel driving 10 hrs a day. Plan on a maximum of 5 hrs driving to allow yourself more time to take in the sites, rather than see them flash on by through the rear-view mirror.

Fifth – make sure your vehicle (whether bought, borrowed or rented) is in suitable condition to make the long distance journey. A service before-hand is definitely advisable. Ideally the driver should have some basic vehicle maintenance knowledge. However, if you are like me and cannot discern the difference between a diff and a spark plug, let along change a tire with perfection, then you might want a co-driver who can assist when these vehicle incidents pop up.

Alternatively, having a vehicle insurance policy or plan with a local or international automobile association can be a huge relief, when requiring towing services or courtesy cars while your wheels are out of action. It may just prevent you from having to stall your trip or derail your plans.

Sixth  plan a realistic budget.
The last thing you want to have to do is hit the breaks and end your trip early because of poor budget planning. Work out your route, the expected mileage and gas consumption along the way. Factor in the cost of toll gates, park entrances fees, parking and overnight camp or RV park ground feeds. Allow for miscellaneous costs that might crop up like vehicle maintenance, parking fines etc. This will ease your mind allowing you to focus on the journey ahead.

Seventh  Log your journey and bank those treasured memories you have experienced along the way, with journal entries or sign up for an online Blog. is my preferred site with mapping and easy to use pins to plot and track you’re travelling progress, together with easy to upload photo and blog functionality. Social media has come along way and is the perfect way to inform family and friends of your adventures and travels. Facebook and the “check-in” application is also a great way to allow family back home to know where you are in your travels at all times and offers a sense of security. For once the Big Brother Surveillance of what you are doing has a positive effect.

Having considered a few of the proposed trip routes and a tips suggested above, you are already well on your way to creating your own adventure of a life time.

I leave you with a few quotes to take in and inspire you as you get lost, get off the beaten track and change the way you see the world around you.

“We can’t know what’s going to happen. We can just try to figure it out as we go along.”
– Roger Sullivan

“The journey not the arrival matters.”
– T.S. Eliot

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.”
– Fitzhugh Mullan

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
– Bill Bryson

“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
– Carson McCullers

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