If you had to choose your favourite way to travel, right here, right now, what would it be? By plane? Train? Boat? Or maybe by car, like me? There’s nothing I love better than road trips! Let me tell you why.
When you head out on a road trip, you have the freedom to explore so many wonderful places en route. You see places that would be a speck on the horizon from a plane window, or that you’d have to drive straight past if travelling by bus or coach. When somewhere catches your eye or takes your interest, you can simply park up and enjoy it. Road trips are one of the easiest ways to travel if you don’t want to miss a thing.
I can still remember my first long journey. It was a 15-hour non-stop ride from Poland to Germany on a student exchange program. I did the trip and journey twice and I loved it every time! Traditionalists will say it wasn’t a proper road trip being by bus, but I didn’t mind sitting tight for that long because I knew something exciting would happen the minute I hopped off. I was visiting a country where I only knew basic translations. I was 14 years old and ready for an adventure.
Four years later I ended up living in that very same country, Germany, and so my love affair with travelling began. Since then I’ve visited cities across the globe, but by visiting one town you don’t get to see the entire country. I believe that road trips are the best way to travel if you have the time. That’s why I’m sharing with you three road trip ideas that I’ve taken and loved to inspire your own adventures.
Road trip in Ireland
This was my first road trip and, looking back, I wasn’t very prepared for it. Back then I had no idea how much information you could find online when planning road trips and I hadn’t done any research. My total knowledge of Ireland was that the capital city was Dublin and that it has the same beautiful countryside that features in the movie, ‘PS I Love You’.
We chose a road trip in Ireland because my husband and his friend were making a short video about the country at the time, so I thought they had all important information to map out our route. Because we weren’t well prepared, I don’t even have notes of where we stayed when, so matching up some photographs to places is almost impossible. My biggest piece of advice when planning a road trip is to do exactly that. Plan and you won’t miss out!
Dublin was our home for two weeks, so that’s the place I remember best from our road trip in Ireland. It was and still is a wonderfully vibrant city. It’s a place that’s perfect for walking and letting yourself get lost, uncovering hidden gems as you go. I probably missed all of the big tourist attractions flagged up in travel guides, but I loved Dublin and my experience was as authentic as any.
Our next stop was at Cliff of Moher, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The view was very impressive, but the wind was strong so we didn’t stay as long as I’d have liked. All the more reason to go back in future, though!
Blarney Castle near Cork was another stop as we continued to explore Ireland. We travelled without reservations, so I can’t tell you where we stayed, but we definitely made it here to kiss the famous stone.
The last place I can recall visiting was Kilkenny. We stayed here specifically because the boys really liked the beer (more on European nightlife hotspots here!).
Driving in Ireland could be challenging at times, as it can be on many road trips. The countryside roads were very narrow, and you had to drive on the opposite side of the road. The views were breathtaking, though. So much so that I’m already dreaming of going back, but this time with a better plan!
Road trip in Italy
Years later my knowledge was far better, the internet was my best friend and I prepared every last detail before heading out on our road trip in Italy. We rented a car from Berlin, starting our journey early morning with a drive through Germany and then Austria. The beauty of road trips is that you get to see places that aren’t even your chosen destination on the way – gold dust for someone with wanderlust!
Our first destination was Pisa. We arrived in Italy in the midst of one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever experienced. I remember driving along the road and seeing a massive lightning bolt shoot straight from the sky to the ground. We arrived in Pisa very late at night, but we didn’t plan to stay there too long. Parking the car, we went for a walk to find famous leaning tower. After taking some photos we wandered a little more, before jumping back in the car and driving to our hotel in Rome.
Rome was every bit as amazing as you’d hope. The architecture, the food, the people… The fountains, the Spanish steps where we drunk so much wonderful Italian wine, the Vatican, where we didn’t get in as we didn’t have the proper outfits… (Proof that you can never be too prepared when planning your excursions!).
We walked a lot over our four days in Rome, so the next destination needed to involve a beach. Getting to Rimini, our destination of choice for the next stop of our road trip in Italy, wasn’t too easy. The GPS took us for a drive around a massive mountain – great if you love incredible views, not so great if you’re scared of heights like me! Rimini was a typical tourist resort, where we spent time on the beach sipping cocktails and dancing in nightclubs.
Of course, we couldn’t plan a road trip in Italy without making time to stop in Venice. It’s an enchanting city of bridges, canals and gondolas. It was lovely place, but don’t be tempted to make it a flying visit. There’s a lot more to explore than you might think, and I wish we could have seen more ourselves.
Concluding our Italian road trip in romantic style, we made our last stop Verona. I couldn’t leave Italy without checking out Juliet’s balcony, made famous by Shakespeare’s iconic play. Our road trip in Italy covered the north part of the country. It’s definitely somewhere we’d like to return and explore further, with the Amalfi coast and Tuscany just waiting for us to meander through…
For more inspirational ways to travel around Europe without flying, check out this post here.
USA road trip
This road trip has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. After watching so many iconic American movies, I couldn’t stop imagining myself cruising down the highways in a convertible car with a scarf tied around my head, driving all the way from the east to the west coast.
When my USA road trip happened for real I didn’t drive in the old school car of my imagination but in a jeep, which did the job well. I danced in the best nightclubs in Las Vegas, I drove through Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I took a selfie with the HOLLYWOOD sign, I hiked in Yosemite, one of the USA’s great national parks, and I listened to my own echo reverberate off the rock in the Grand Canyon.
Would I recommended a road trip to anyone? Definitely! Yes, you will get bored at some point driving all those hours in the car. Yes, your legs are going to hurt and yes, you’ll end up in a love-hate relationship with your car, but it’s completely and utterly worth it. If I could, I’d drive a car on a road trip around the whole world – you get the road tripping bug and then there’s no looking back!
What road trip ideas have caught your attention?