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5 Exciting Road Trip Ideas for the Adventurous Traveller

Updated: Jun 13

There are some places in the world that are really best-served justice by experiencing them on a road trip. Road trips give you complete freedom, you can camp in wild places, stumble upon treasures off the tourist's map, and marvel at panoramic views along the way.


We have compiled a list of 5 exciting road trip ideas for the adventurous traveller, to inspire you to plan your next amazing road trip. So what are you waiting for?



I Dream of Mangoes Exciting Road Trips


 


1. Namibia

Driving on the moon and the dunes, this is a whole other world.



Ideal Road Trip Length: 3 Weeks

When to go: July - December

Highlights: Sossusvlei, Etosha National Park, Damaraland, & Swakopmund.

Type of Vehicle: Small car with own ground tent OR 4x4 with roof-tent.



Deadvlei
Deadvlei

How to do an amazing road trip in Namibia:


Namibia may seem like a pretty kooky start for this article on 5 exciting road trip ideas, but it's actually a very safe and easy country to travel if you are well-prepared. You'll likely fly into Windhoek, this sparsely-populated nation's capital city, where you can pick up a sturdy rental car and your supplies.


I say sturdy, as most of the roads in Namibia are gravel, but we managed our road trip without an SUV in a little Suzuki Swift - with much patience. Distances between Namibia highlights are VAST, and the landscape is impressive. Campsites are almost always fantastic, and whether it's in a roof tent or a ground tent – camping is definitely the way you want to go with accommodation.


Run down giant sand dunes in Namib-Naukluft National Park, marvel at the bountiful wildlife in Etosha, spend time with tribal peoples in Damaraland and indulge in delicious seafood in Swakopmund. Namibia is like no other place on Earth.


For more details on how to plan the perfect budget road trip in Namibia check out our article: Driving on the Moon: A 3-Week Namibia Road Trip Itinerary.



I Dream of Mangoes camping in the Namibian Desert
Camping in Namibia

I Dream of Mangoes Hitch Hiking at the Trans-Kalahari Highway
The Trans-Kalahari Highway from Botswana to Namibia

 


2. Yucatan

Experience the jewel of Mexico, but off the beaten path and away from the cliches.



Ideal Road Trip Length: 2 Weeks

When to go: December - April

Highlights: Valladolid, Merida, Santa Barbara Cenotes, Laguna Kaan Lum & Bacalar.

Type of vehicle: Small car & Hostel accommodation



Joe at Coba Ruins outside of Tulum
Joe at Coba Ruins outside of Tulum


How to do an epic road trip in Yucatan:


Next up on this post for 5 exciting road trip ideas for the adventurous traveller: Mexico! The Yucatan Peninsula is perhaps the most over-touristed part of Mexico, which is why renting your own car is ideal, as it helps you get off the beaten path and gives you more freedom to explore this region's wonders.


Driving in this part of Mexico is very safe, as long as you avoid driving at night and have full bumper-to-bumper insurance as accidents (and potholes!) do happen. Ideally, you would fly into Cancun Airport, rent a car from there, and then immediately leave the trashy coastal resorts of Cancun behind.


Arrive at Yucatan's many cenotes the minute they open, so you can have these picturesque lagoons all to yourself. Spend time with locals in the cantinas of Merida and Valladolid, admire the street art and check out the markets. Lay back in Bacalar, dive with turtles off Cozumel (before the cruise ships arrive) and avoid Tulum like the plague.


For a full itinerary, check out my article: The Ultimate Yucatan Road Trip.



I Dream of Mangoes at Santa Barbara Cenotes
Santa Barbara Cenotes


Tacos in Mexico
Tacos are Life

 


3. The Garden Route

One of the world's most beautiful coastlines bursting with the spirit of South Africa.


Ideal Road Trip Length: 10 Days

When to go: All Year Round

Highlights: Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Wilderness, & Stellenbosch (plus The Kruger if you have time!)

Type of vehicle: Small car & BnB Accommodation.



I Dream of Mangoes looking at Elephants through Binoculars
Watching the Elephants


How to plan an unforgettable road trip along the Garden Route:


The Garden Route is one of the most famous road trips of a lifetime and for a good reason. It's best to start your journey in Cape Town where you can rent a car for peanuts and head West through the Winelands to start the 'official' Garden Route in Mossel Bay. The drive itself is stunning, and there are many detours which take you along some of the most beautiful winding roads in existence.


Food and wine along the Garden Route are a huge part of this road trip experience, and you can stop in cute towns like Knysna and Wilderness for lunch and outdoor activities. The real heart of the Garden Route though is Plettenberg Bay, a beautiful beach community with good vibes only.


There are some extra safety precautions to consider when driving in South Africa, which I have explained in my article: Safety Tips for Driving the Garden Route.



The Garden Route Plettenberg Bay Hike
The coastline along The Garden Route is beautiful!

I Dream of Mangoes hiking along The Garden Route
The Garden Route is home to some amazing hikes

 


4. West Coast USA

(including The Pacific Coast Highway)

Perhaps the Earth's most iconic road trip – the West Coast of the USA is a nature lover's dream.



Ideal Road Trip Length: One Month

When to go: May – October

Highlights: All of Oregon, Yosemite, Napa, San Fran, Big Sur, & Monterey.

Type of Vehicle: Campervan



The West California Coastline
The West California Coastline


How to make sure your West Coast USA road trip is awesome:


While most people stick to the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) starting in LA and finishing in far North California, for me, ending your trip here would be criminal – as Oregon is the most amazing part of the West Coast of the USA.


I would suggest starting this epic road trip in the south, renting a campervan from San Diego and stopping to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and laid-back vibe of SD and LA.


Then travel north enjoying the fantastic stops along Highway 1 - whether it’s the wildlife (Elephant Seals and Orcas!) or sports car bingo in Carmel, there’s so much to do and see. Move through endless vineyards, stop for a while at iconic surf spots, and then head into the more rustic north past the psychedelic city of San Francisco, where you will be greeted by the region's famous ginormous redwood forests.


Extend this road trip by continuing into the stunning countryside of Oregon, making an unforgettable stop to swim in a volcanic crater at Crater Lake National Park, hit the food scene and markets of Portland and the utterly charming town of Cannon Beach - which will take your breath away. Next, you'll find yourself driving through the rainforests of Washington – and finally finishing your road trip in the Seattle area - where you can’t miss the view of the sound from the ferryboats and the endless greenery around Mt Rainier!



I Dream of Mangoes at the Hollywood Sign!
Mandatory Hollywood Sign snap!

Wild Orcas off the coast of Monterey
Wild Orcas off the coast of Monterey

 


5. The Scottish Highlands

Step into the fairytale of the NC500.



Ideal Road Trip Length: 2 Weeks

When to go: April & May OR September

Highlights: Culloden - Inverness, Dunrobin Castle, John O’Groats, Ceannabeinne Beach, Applecross, & Loch Ness

Bonus extras: Old Man of Storr, Oban, St Andrews, Edinburgh

Type of Vehicle: Small car & own tent OR Campervan



Wild Camping in Scotland
Wild Camping in Scotland


How to do a Scottish Highland road trip the right way:


Road-tripping in Scotland was one of the easiest travel experiences of my life! All Scottish ‘official’ road trip routes are signposted, just follow the signs which indicate when there’s an attraction in the area - you can’t miss it or get lost!


Throughout Scotland, laybys are everywhere idle for campers and freedom tent camping is permitted in the highlands. Make sure you stop at Dunrobin Castle to channel your inner lord or lady, and if you dare - traverse the winding track of Bealach na Bà through the mountains of Applecross. It’s sure to leave your throat in your stomach. The beaches of Scotland may not include the Caribbean weather, but the magic of Ceannabeinne Beach has no match. And don’t forget to search for Nessie at Loch Ness!


While the North Coast 500 officially starts and ends in Inverness (for a taste of history don’t miss nearby Culloden). I’d recommend adding a few more additional stops especially if you're renting a vehicle from one of the bigger cities of Edinburgh or Glasgow! You can’t beat the fairytale feel of the Glens on the Isle of Skye, the colourful town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, or the outstanding views on the Firth Coastal Route. Every part of Scotland has something to offer.



Cute cows in Scotland
Cute cows in Scotland

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

 

Thank you for reading my article: 5 Exciting Road Trip Ideas for the Adventurous Traveller. If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post articles once every week about my current travels around the world.


For more worldwide inspiration, check out my post: The 5 Best Cities in the World!


Happy Travels

xx



START PLANNING YOUR NEXT TRIP



 


Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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