One of Hollywood’s endearing holiday tourism themes, in films, is the iconic road trip. Cult classics like the 1969 “Easy Rider”, the “Smokey and the Bandit” series in the 1970’s, The Gumball Rally, Thelma & Louise in 1991 and more recently “Wild Hogs” all epitomise the unexpected thrill and excitement of travelling the open road.
The popular BBC car series “Top Gear” regularly undertakes road trips, touring in old sports cars, towing caravans or with provocative phrases sprayed on their cars in America’s deep South. Film stars Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman also produced two excellent road trip series in the “Long Way Round” between London and New York and the “Long Way Down” from John O’Groats to Cape Town.
Ever since Bertha Benz invented the road trip in 1888 people have been looking for more challenging and imaginative routes to ride. So what are the most interesting and popular road trips you can take?
While this is not the most daring of rides, it is the world’s first recognised road trip. Karl Benz’s wife, Bertha, undertook it in August 1888 when she fancied a trip to visit her mother. Until then cars had only been run for short distances but Bertha took the car on a 120 mile round trip between Mannheim and Pforzheim.
The journey takes in the beautiful countryside of Baden and passes Heidelberg, stops at the first recognised petrol station, a chemist in Weisloch where she bought some Ligroin solvent to fuel the car. The return trip is a little longer as frau Benz wasn’t too enamoured with the hills and so followed the River Rhine back, passing Maulbronn Abbey and Hockenheim where today’s World of Motorsports Museum can be found.
This has to be one of the most talked about road trips ever, the epitome of long car journey’s on the open road, wind in your hair and nothing for miles and miles. The original Route 66 starts in Chicago and finishes on the West Coast in Los Angeles. The route was officially declassified in 1985 but enthusiasts have kept the memory alive marking and travelling the route each year.
3) London to Monte Carlo – Distance 900 miles
This vintage car rally was made famous by the silver screen in the hit movie “Monte Carlo or Bust.” This again is another journey fraught with risk, challenge and possibilities, particularly if you make it in a classic car. As this may not be possible for most people why not try picking up a cheap second hand car in London and add to the excitement of getting to the South of France.
The Italian road race that was run between 1927 and 1957, starting in Brescia in the North of Italy, down to Rome and back, following a figure 8 course. The race was briefly revived between 1958 and 1961 but since 1977 it has been known as the Mille Miglia Storica, a historical rally featuring pre-1957 cars. The tour is run over several days between May and April each year and is well supported by locals and visitors along the length of the course. While you can follow the route of the course yourself at any time, the best option is taking part in the run or at least cheer on the competitors as they wend their way through the gorgeous Italian countryside.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was the route of many trails made famous during the Vietnam war, whereby the north Vietnamese Army brought weapons, supplies and food down to the front line. This is definitely a road trip with a difference and stretches from Hanoi all the way down to Hoian, covering a vast range of landscapes and vegetation. Due to the tough and unforgiving terrain you cross, from rugged mountain to thick jungle, the most popular way to make this trip is by motorbike. It is a trip well worth making, full of history, ancient temples and tranquil towns, a challenging road trip through an unforgettably beautiful landscape.