For some, it was Jack Kerouac’s cult classic “On the Road”, for others it was watching “Thelma & Louise” or listening to Johnny Cash’s well travelled voice tell you “I’ve Been Everywhere”. Whatever sparked your love affair with the idea of road-trips, there is no denying their long-lasting appeal.
But in 2022, what place does the great road-trip have in a world connected by super-fast flights and limited time?
Choosing the journey in 2022
Before diving into the history of the road-trip, let’s think about why you might wish to go by road in 2022. With strike action expected this summer in the aviation industry and reduced staff and fuel difficulties impacting air travel globally, flying isn’t the safe bet it was until recently.
If you have a vehicle, you can enjoy driving through the winding roads, stopping off in scenic spots, and making the most of every moment. All with the freedom of knowing that you’re not reliant on anybody but yourself.
The beginnings of the road-trip
While the first road-trip in the world is thought to have happened in 1888 in Germany (when the inventor of the original patented car’s wife took the experimental Benz for a jaunt of over 66 miles!), it didn’t become an ideal until 1930s America.
Due to expansion of the roads and popularisation of the car, families began taking long trips by car, as more and more businesses such as diners and motels sprang up to allow for a more enjoyable journey.
The philosophy of the road-trip
Vacationing families pioneered the Great American Road-Trip, but it was cemented in the global consciousness by creative works that turned Route 66 into a destination in and of itself.
This road allows you to travel from the east to the west coast of America on one long highway and has been rendered legendary by musicians like Bobby Troup and the Rolling Stones. Literature such as the aforementioned “On the Road” and Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” cemented the idea of road-trips as part of the counterculture — embracing freedom and the journey above all.
Why road-trips appeal to us
Road-trips might be most associated with America, but other countries also embrace this ideal. In Australia, heading into the Outback to visit small towns and enjoy the ride is a common travel choice, especially as many of the interesting and unusual stop-offs are ill-served by major transport connections. Driving across Europe allows for easy border crossing, and even in the UK the authentic experience offered by road-trips is seen as the best way to explore, without the pressure of a tour group or schedule.
Road-trips from around the world
During the pandemic, road-trips came back in full force, supported by necessity and sustainable ideals around slow travel. Road-trips can be enjoyed across the globe — with Route 66 being a bucket list item for many drivers. The Great Ocean Road in Australia offers scenic views of sea, rainforests and more stretching while in the UK driving the Yorkshire Circuit gives an impressive view of all that the Dales have to offer. Alternatively, the North Coast 500 is perfect for those who want to see more of Scotland — and simply driving from Land’s End to John O’Groats is considered a mighty feat by many.
In our fast-paced world, choosing to appreciate the journey and not just the destination is one of the most radical decisions you can make — so why not avoid flight chaos and choose a road-trip instead? Who knows what you might discover.