“All you need is the plan, the road map,
and the courage to press on to your destination.”
– Earl Nightingale
Do you have dreams of seeing as much of the world as possible? Me, too!
One of the best ways I’ve found to accomplish this is to travel by car.
I’ve road tripped through Italy from Milan to Rome and back; all over Israel; the Provence region of France; parts of Costa Rica; and Puerto Rico and had a blast every time.
I’m certain that I saw a LOT more of both countries than I would have if I’d traveled any other way.
An adventure abroad doesn’t have to just be a trip to all the typical tourist traps. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either.
Since I haven’t been everywhere (yet), I consulted some fellow travel enthusiasts to get ideas for future trips.
I asked that they include suggestions for accommodations, routes, must-sees, and of course, estimated costs.
Check ’em out below. Maybe you’ll find inspiration for your first (or next) international adventure!
= ROAD TRIPPIN’ THROUGH AFRICA =
By Nina Ragusa of Where In The World is Nina
While many may not think of Morocco as a cool place to road trip, let me tell you, IT IS!
Bustling cities, chilled out coastal towns, dramatic snow-capped mountains, and orangey sand dunes for miles, Morocco has a myriad of incredible places to visit. And the best way to do it is, no doubt, a road trip.
We wouldn’t have made it to the abandoned Tin Mel Mosque, the gorgeous Telouet Kasbah, or our badass Airbnb that was on the edge of the Sahara so we could take off to the sand dunes the next morning if we didn’t have a car…
Public transport will be cheaper but it will also be slower and you won’t get to see as much. While renting a car isn’t the cheapest, it’s not that bad. Prices can be around $25 per day.
A good tip – in general and for your pocket – would be to stay in the smaller towns.
- Driving in the cities are likely nightmarish. I wouldn’t know, because we decided that we were going to avoid it all together, and since we drove on the southern routes, it was totally viable to eliminate driving in that chaos. (The largest city we drove through was Agadir)
- You’ll find cheaper and more available accommodations.
- The best stuff was in the smaller towns or middle of nowhere anyway. 🙂
While road tripping, you don’t want to HAVE to be in a certain place at a certain time so we would only book our accommodation a night or two out. We didn’t want to just show up either because after road tripping Morocco all day, the last thing you want to do is go hotel hunting.
We saw a ridiculously amazing amount of things on this road trip, things you wouldn’t get the opportunity to see if you didn’t drive. I can’t recommend it enough!
- Approximate Distance: 1,279 miles (2,059 km)
- Accommodations: Airbnb
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Public transportation is cheap but slow. Renting a car costs about $25/day | Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: 2 weeks
- Itinerary: For details about where to go, what to do and see, and more, click here.
THE GARDEN ROUTE, SOUTH AFRICA
By Campbell & Alya Akhmetgareeva of Stingy Nomads
The best way to explore Africa is by doing a road trip. As South Africans we spend a lot of time driving around the country, exploring new regions and discovering new places.
The Garden Route is our favorite area for road tripping. The Route stretches from Western to Eastern Cape, it starts at Mossel Bay, a nice town by the sea, 385km from Cape Town and finishes 300km later at Storms River.
The road follows the coastline most of the time and offers travelers some of the best scenery in the country: endless ocean, lush green forest, mountains, and cozy towns. It’s a perfect area for a honeymoon road trip or a romantic getaway with hundreds of places to stop and things to do.
You can travel the Garden Route on different budgets, there are all sort of accommodation options and food places. Camping is the cheapest way to travel here, there are many campsites along the way, most of them have great facilities with the most stunning locations you can ever imagine. Average price for camping is US$18 per site that fits 6 people so if you’re a group of friends or a family camping here will cost you from US$3 per person.
There are many great restaurants on the route but cooking is the best option for eating well and not spending a lot of money. BBQ (or braai, as it’s called in South Africa) is one of the main activities for people on holiday here, all campsites have places for a braai. Buy wood, some meat or veggies and enjoy the evening next to the fire. This way you’ll spend on food about US$10 per person daily.
- Approximate Distance: 127 miles (204 km)
- Accommodations: There are lots of options for places to stay, but camping is the most affordable ($18 USD per site for up to 6 people)
- Food: Cooking is the most budget-friendly option
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: 7 days
- Itinerary: For detailed information about where to go, what to do, and more, click here.
= ROAD TRIPPIN’ THROUGH ASIA =
BEAUTIFUL SRI LANKA
by Andra Padureanu of Our World to Wander
I honestly believe that road trips are among the best way of discovering a place. And Sri Lanka is one of those countries where getting from one place to another can prove difficult so that you might consider your vehicle.
We had 4 weeks of traveling on the beautiful island and surely we didn’t want to miss any time trying to catch buses or trains. So we did some research and figured out that the best way would be to rent a tuk-tuk. Obviously, it was cheaper than renting a car and definitely easier than figuring out the itineraries and schedules for various buses and trains.
So we ended up renting a tuk-tuk in Mount Lavinia, which is pretty close to Colombo, a short train ride. And from there we made our way into the heart of Sri Lanka, changing our itinerary day by day. It was so fun that we couldn’t stick to a plan. Each time we saw something that looked interesting on the map we decided to check it out.
Some must-stops include Maskeliya, from where you can climb Adam’s Peak; Ella, to take a walk on the train rails; Tangalle, for a more quiet beach stop; Dambulla, for its intricate Buddist caves and the famous rocks of Sigiriya and Pidurangala; as well as Haputhale, for Lipton’s Seat.
Our daily budget at the end of the trip was around $65-$70, including everything for our around 1,000km road trip. We managed to lower it by doing homestays, eating with locals and avoiding by all costs hotels. We could find homestays either online or just asking around. The locals are very friendly and helpful, so it’s difficult to get in trouble. You have to make sure you have a good map and enjoy the ride!
- Approximate Distance: 559 miles (899 km)
- Accommodations: Homestays (find online or by asking around)
- Food: Eat with locals
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Tuk-Tuk rental | Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: 4 weeks
TRAVELING THROUGH ARMENIA
by Megan C. Starr of Megan Starr
I have been on road trips in several countries throughout the world, but the country that surprised me most on a road trip was Armenia. The landscape is so raw and untouched in much of the country and the scenery is dotted by ancient monasteries in such an idyllic way that every five minutes you will be left speechless.
I went on a road trip in Armenia first in 2013. Because my driving skills are pretty subpar and I wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to Armenian infrastructure, I hired a driver to show me around 2/3 of the country from Yerevan to the south. I made a good decision as I would not have been capable of driving the roads at the time (although they have improved slightly).
The landscape is varied. There are forests in certain parts of the country, mountains in others, and vibrant red rocks in others. But it is all jaw-dropping.
On your road trip, definitely make a point to visit the wine regions of Areni, Khor Virap, Noravank Monastery, and especially Tatev Monastery in the south. Tatev is home to some dramatic scenery and a cable car that boasts the title of world’s longest double track cable car.
If you rent a car to do the road trip alone, you will not spend quite as much money as I did, but for my trip, I spent around $80 (I split with a friend which halved that) for a driver, guide, and car with gas for an entire day. It was well worth the cost. I definitely recommend Armenia to road trip lovers if you want a mixture of history with spectacular nature.
- Approximate Distance: 926 miles (1,490 km) round trip
- Food: Roadside cafes
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Driver, guide, car & gas for an entire day: $80 | Calculate
TAIWAN’S EAST COAST
By Daniele Dronelis Giannotta of Cycloscope
Taiwan is an island with two souls: the west coast being a seamless urban area, with a population density industrial activity that made it one of the 4 Asian Tigers in the 80s, while the east coast is still wild, sparsely populated, rough and stunning.
Few coastal roads in the world can claim 400 miles (600km) of constantly astonishing scenery like Taiwan’s East Coast. From Taipei to Kenting, or the other way around, this coast makes for a really memorable road trip, with the Pacific Ocean constantly on one side, and dramatic cliffs on the other.
Taiwan is crossed by the tropic of Cancer, its flora changes from the silver grass in the north to the tropical jungle of the south. Besides that, it’s along the east coast that the original inhabitants of the island live, the aboriginal people of Taiwan, a very interesting culture to get in touch with. If you are looking for a truly Asian road trip, following the East Coast of Taiwan won’t disappoint your expectation.
The best way to enjoy this road trip while keeping it budget friendly is surely by bike. Taiwan has a profound bicycle culture and cycling in Taiwan is really easy even for the absolute beginners. The coastal roads are 95% flat and there are free or very cheap campgrounds literally everywhere, renting a bike in Taiwan is also very easy and quite a bargain, the rental shops will provide you with panniers, lights, tools, and everything you need to enjoy this unforgettable ride.
- Approximate Distance: 287 miles (461.5 km)
- Accommodations: Couchsurfing (free); camping (free); hotels/motels ($40-55/night)
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Calculate
= ROAD TRIPPIN’ THROUGH AUSTRALIA =
SYDNEY TO BROKEN HILL, AUSTRALIA
By Leah Smileski of Kid Bucket List
When it comes to road trips in Australia, most visitors and even Australians themselves, hope to head to the Outback at least once. The very thought conjures up images of red dirt, wild animals, and breathtaking scenery. For many, this means purchasing or renting a 4×4 and a caravan and hitting the road for a few months. But there are other options.
With less than a fortnight [two weeks] up our sleeve for a road trip over the April school holidays, we decided to drive from Sydney to Broken Hill, Australia’s most accessible Outback town. Broken Hill lies on the edge of the Outback (711 miles/1,144 km from Sydney).
Driving from Sydney to Broken Hill is best achieved over at least two full days with a stopover around halfway. Popular stopovers for the night are usually made at Dubbo, Nyngan, or Cowra. A popular stopover is the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo where you can enjoy driving or strolling around one of Australia’s most incredible zoological parks.
From Dubbo onwards, there is a noticeable change in the landscape especially the dirt which becomes redder and redder the closer you move towards Broken Hill. Drivers should be mindful of the wildlife that often run out onto the road including emus, kangaroos, wallabies, and goats. This is especially important as the road is fairly isolated and help may take some time.
Stop at Nyngan to add to your list of Australia’s “Big Things” – The Big Bogan, as well as the old Cobb & Co. track. Cowra offers an insight into mining life and then there’s a detour to White Cliffs where you can sleep underground and learn all about opal mining.
- Approximate Distance: 1,459 miles (2,348 km)
- Accommodations: There are free camps in all locations, a range of budget motels and some boutique options as well.
- Food: Every single town along the way offers cheap bakeries to grab breakfast or lunch. We also found the local RSL or Bowls club offered affordable and budget food along the way.
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: When budgeting to drive to Broken Hill, factor in petrol (around 3 tanks of fuel depending on your car), roadside assistance (with the isolation of the road this is highly recommended) | Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: 2 weeks (if possible)
- Itinerary: For suggestions about things to do and more, click here.
MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY ALONG AUSTRALIA’S SAPPHIRE COAST
By Melissa Conn of The Family Voyage
Our favorite road trip ever was the drive from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia’s Sapphire Coast. The 1000km route only takes approximately 12 hours to drive, but you’d be selling yourself short by blazing through it in a day or two. We split the drive into five days but would have been happy to spend even longer in the adorable coastal towns of Victoria and New South Wales.
One of the highlights of our drive was a visit to Raymond Island in Gippsland, Victoria, where wild koalas freely roam. Further north, don’t miss Ben Boyd National Park (including the view over Disaster Bay, Greencape Lighthouse and swimming at secluded Bittangabee Bay).
Our award for “favorite little town” goes to Narooma – it’s a bit bigger than some of the small villages you’ll see on the drive, but could easily be mistaken for a Caribbean island… until you see the native fur seals basking out on Bar Rock. If you give yourself enough time in Narooma, you can hop on a day cruise to Montague Island and even see little penguins! If you still haven’t had your fill of native wildlife, make sure to spend the night at NRMA Murramarang with its local herd of wild kangaroos.
There isn’t much about travel in Australia that’s cheap. We aren’t campers and we wanted to stay flexible, so we used our booking.com app (with 10% genius discount for frequent customers) to snag last-minute discounts on lodging. For our family of four, we spent approximately $100 AUD per night. We saved on food costs by buying a cooler and bringing breakfast and lunch provisions with us on the drive.
- Approximate Distance: 559 miles (878 km)
- Accommodations: Find somewhere to stay on Booking.com
- Food: Buy groceries and a cooler for affordable meals-on-the-go
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: At least 5 days (longer if possible)
NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND
By Melissa Delaware of Thrifty Family Travels
For us, the cheapest way to explore the South Island was hiring a cheap car and staying in budget motels along the way (around $100 AUD on average per night for the 3 of us). We also used Airbnbs and New Zealand’s BookaBach [pronounced “batch”, a holiday home] site.
Eating out is expensive in New Zealand, so wherever possible we stayed in places with a kitchen, so we could prepare our own meals and also packed lunch and a thermos for our day trips. Taking a packed lunch is, in fact, the best way to do it – because New Zealand is absolutely stunning, and I’d rather be eating my lunch admiring those gorgeous views then stuck on a café any day!
The good news about New Zealand is that most of the tourist attractions are the stunning great outdoors, so it doesn’t really cost much for sightseeing unless you join a tour.
- Approximate Distance: 1,001 miles (1,612 km)
- Accommodations: Budget hotels, Airbnbs
- Food: Cheapest to cook in the kitchen of your accommodations; pack picnics
- Estimated Car Travel Cost: Calculate
- Recommended Trip Length: 2 weeks
- Itinerary: 2 nights – Christchurch, 1 night – Hokitika, 2 nights – Fox Glacier, 4 nights – Queenstown, 2 nights – Dunedin, 2 nights – Mount Cook
Have you traveled any of these routes? If not, which route(s) appeal to you most?
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