There's hardly any better way to explore a destination than on the open road. You have the freedom to make stops when and where you want, and can change your itinerary at a moment's notice. Better yet, it can be seriously cost-effective, especially when combined with camping.
We've done many a road trip in our travels, and these ones certainly take the cake. Here's 5 spectacular road trips around the world, complete with routes and must-see highlights along the way. Happy road tripping!
Psst, planning a road trip? Check out these thrifty road trippin' posts!
- 12 Essential Items to Road Trip on the Cheap
- RV Relocation Deals: How to Rent an RV for $1/Day
- How to Book the Cheapest Car Rental Possible
1. Northern Canada & Alaska
Yukon & Alaska
Route: Whitehorse – Haines Junction – Haines (then car ferry) – Skagway – Whitehorse – Dawson City – Whitehorse (A “figure 8” round-trip)
Must-stops: any marked scenic point! Tombstone Territorial Park, Chilkoot River (Haines, AK) to spot bears from ~6PM onwards (free & no tour required!), Carcross Desert (the world's smallest) en route to Whitehorse to/from Skagway.
When to go: Fall for magnificent leaf displays (Sep – Oct), summer for ~24hr sunshine (June – Aug). Northern lights peak Aug-Oct.
How long: ~9-14 days
Highlights: Remote & mountainous landscapes, unique flora (arctic tundra). Abundant wildlife such as elk, deer, moose, bears, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, raccoons, and foxes.
Thrifty tips: Hit up grocery stores to stock-up on snacks & food in major cities as convenience stops are few & far between. There is a Walmart in Whitehorse which is good for loading up on food & supplies. Camping options are abundant throughout the route.
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly for car rentals across sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Don't forget to do a quick search for coupon codes! Outdoorsy is the Airbnb of RV and campervan rentals, letting you rent from other owners for a fraction of the price of a standard RV rental.
2. Austrian Alps & Germany's Black Forest
Black Forest to Austrian Alps
Route (round-trip): Munich – Koenigsee – Salzburg – Grossglocker Highway – Innsbruck – Lake Constance (end of Austrian Alps loop) continue to Munich if only have 7 days, otherwise onwards to Waldshut-Tiengen – Titisee – Triburg – Freiburg – Heidelberg – Wurzburg – Rothenburg – Harburg – Munich
When to go: Summer for rolling green Alpine hills reminscent of the Sound of Music. Winter for out of this world skiing, cozy log cabins, and mulled wine.
How long: 7 days for Alps loop only, 10-14 days if including full loop with Black Forest.
Highlights: Driving BETWEEN snow-capped peaks, staring down at glaciers, perusing adorable German villages, sampling warm gooey pastries from one bakery to the next (gotta try 'em all!), and of course, BLACK FOREST CAKE.
Thrifty tips: Grocery stores like Aldi offer cheap on-the-go eats to keep your car loaded up. Visit a bakery for fresh bread and pack a picnic – chances are you'll find epic mountain or forest views to dine in all to yourself.
Must-stops: Koenigsee, Germany (stop here and visit lake – the boat tours are worth the views!), Grossglocker highway (stop anywhere for epic views and don't forget the Pasterze glacier at the end of the route. In the Black Forest be sure to hop out and explore medieval villages on foot (Triburg, Villingen, and Freiburg are simply adorable). The Romantic Road (Wurzburg to Munich) is stunning. Stop at Neuschwanstein (the “Disney Castle”) before returning to Munich.
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly for car rentals across sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Outdoorsy lets you rent RVs and campervans from other owners for a fraction of the cost of a typical RV rental company.
3. Australian Outback
The Australian Outback
Route: Alice Springs – King's Canyon – Uluru – Alice Springs
Must-stops: The Olgas, King's Canyon day hike, Uluru for sunrise and/or sunset.
When to go: March-May (April is ideal) to have minimal heat, rain, and masses of tourists.
How long: 5-7 days
Highlights: Astounding vastness, neon sunsets, epic camping and hikes, dingos, kangaroos, star-stuffed night skies.
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly across sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Don't forget to do a quick search for coupon codes! Note: $1/day RV relocations are rare in this region but occasionally lengthy routes such as Melbourne to Perth or Darwin occur (found via iMoova or Jucy). Check our how-to guide for FAQs on RV relocations. If you can't find a relocation, Outdoorsy is the cheapest way to rent an RV or campervan, letting you rent directly from owners.
4. Oahu, Hawaii
Route: As the island is small, you can base yourself in one place and drive anywhere within an hour. Therefore, create a route in any order!
Must-sees: Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Kailua Beach Park, Kualoa Regional Park (to view Chinaman's Hat in the distance), Waimea Bay.
When to go: shoulder seasons are mid-April to mid-June and Sept to mid-Dec. Prices may be inflated from Dec – March (high season).
How long: 4-6 days
Highlights: Glistening white beaches, turquoise waters, world-class snorkelling & diving, lush landscapes, scenic hikes, great weather even in off-seasons, shaved ice, food trucks galore (garlic shrimp is a must-try).
Thrifty tips: Travel in off-season, stick to free but scenic activities (e.g. beach-bumming, hiking, scenic drives). You can snorkel in free and quiet beaches (hint: Hanuama Bay is overpriced & overrated).
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly for car rentals across sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Book early for prices as low as $15 USD/day. Outdoorsy is the cheapest way to rent a campervan or RV direct from an owner, and your booking includes insurance and roadside assistance.
5. Southern France
Southern France to Paris
Route: Marseille – Aix-en-Provence – Arles – Blois – Paris (one-way)
Must-stops: Chateau d'If (home to the Count of Monte Cristo near Marseille), Avignon, Les-Beaux-de-Provence (medieval town & must-see Carrières des Lumières), Cheverny, Lanobre (Chateau de Val – stunning medieval castle).
When to go: Spring or summer (April – Aug) for sunshine and warmer temps.
How long: 8-12 days
Highlights: Charming countryside, well-preserved medieval towns & castles, lush vineyards, under-touristed sites. Detailed highlights can be found in our article, 5 Awesome Cities in France That Aren't Paris.
Thrifty tips: DIY lunches by getting baguettes & cheese from bakeries & grocery stores. Formule 1 and Ibis Budget are discount hotel chains. If you sleep just outside of destined cities big savings can be had!
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly across car rental sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Don't forget to do a quick search for coupon codes! Outdoorsy lets you book RVs and campervans direct from the owners at a fraction of the cost of a standard RV rental.
The Canadian Rockies, Prairies & Lakes
Route 1 (Canadian Rockies, ~1 week) – Calgary – Banff – Lake Louise – Jasper – Edmonton – Elk Island National Park – Calgary
Route 2 (Badlands, Prairies, and Lakes, ~2-2.5 weeks) – Calgary – Dinosaur Provincial Park – Drumheller – Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump – MooseJaw – Regina – Saskatoon – Winnipeg – Thunder Bay – Algonquin Park – Sault Ste. Marie – Wawa – Toronto
When to go: summer (June – Aug) or fall (Sep – Oct) for ideal temps. Fall brings magnificent colours to the trees and far less tourists than summer.
How long: for a non-rushed pace take 3 weeks if including Canadian Rockies (Route 1), 2-2.5 weeks without (Route 2).
Highlights: Endlessly flat wheat fields, Alberta badlands, quaint Canadian towns, big cities (Winnipeg, Calgary & Toronto are must-sees), infinite lakes, elusive wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, bears, and foxes.
Thrifty tips: Jasper/Banff are expensive – camp when possible and if wanting to canoe, try cheaper alternatives to Lake Louise (e.g. Emerald Lake). If travelling to multiple national parks, you may want to buy an unlimited entry parks pass. Note: this is cheaper to order ahead online from Parks Canada, if possible.
Car booking: Booking Buddy searches broadly across sites (most of which offer free cancellation). Don't forget to do a quick search for coupon codes! Note: $1/day RV relocations do happen (we did a 1 cent/day cross-country RN trip!). Check our how-to guide for FAQs on RV relocations. If you can't find a relocation, Outdoorsy is the next cheapest option, letting you rent RVs and campervans direct from owners, with insurance and roadside assistance included.