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Explore the World’s Most Thrilling Road Trips

As I am just about to head off on an American road trip, I am already planning my next trip; in fact, I have pretty much planned my next three road trips.

For me, the best way to discover something is to experience it, and there is no better way to experience an area than driving through it. When you are driving you are in complete control, no bus tours with timed stops, no tour guides pointing out ‘highlights’, no pesky other travellers getting lost, and no schedules!

When you are doing your own road trip, the world is yours to explore in your own time. You eat when you want to eat, you start and finish your day when you want to – you simply do your own thing when you want to do it.

Planning a road trip can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a bit daunting. Help from experts is always a great thing, especially when you are given useful hints, tips, best time of year to plan your particular road trip and above all – inspiration!

Thankfully, the people at Lonely Planet have recognised that I am not the only one who loves a road trip, and have put together an amazing book Epic Drives of the Word, that will have you fully immersed in the emotions involved in driving these amazing trips.

The road to Mt Cook, NZ – © Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

This beautifully illustrated hard cover book invites readers to buckle up for a lifetime of memorable road trips. It is the second instalment in Lonely Planet’s Epic series (following last year’s best-selling Epic Bike Rides of the World).  It features 50 classic driving routes across the world (from Argentina to Zambia), and 200 ideas for great drives – ranging from easy-going cruises to back-country adventures.

The Pan-American Hwy near the Nazca Lines, Peru – © PIKSEL/Getty Images

Travelling on the winding road to Hana, Hawaii – © Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

Australia is represented by six driving routes highlighted in the chapters “The Great Ocean Road”, “A Short Hop from Hobart to Queenstown”, “Across The Kimberley: The Gibb River Road”, “Following the Captain Cook Highway”, “The Great Alpine Road”, and “The Track: Alice Springs to Darwin”.

Cape Sebastian scenery with Highway 101 along coast, Oregon – © Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

“This book is intended to offer fresh inspiration for your next road trip,” Lonely Planet says.  And inspiration is definitely what is offered in this book – with stories beautifully describing the feelings evoked when driving from Boston to New York in an electric car and trying to find charging stations, or going driving through rarely visited tribal states pushed up against the Chinese and Burmese borders when travelling 488km from Guwahati, Assam to Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Maybe you would prefer to immerse yourself in a trip that takes you to the lonely shores of Northern Ireland or even traverse Norway’s roads, bridges and tunnels, which are sparkling examples of their builders’ tenacity, as you peer up at mile high cliffs.

There are routes written and ridden by motorcyclists and drives that take a day and others that will take a weekend or a week, or more – these are undoubtedly EPIC drives with something to suit everyone.

Classic Ford Galaxy cruising Highway 101, California – © Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet continues, “The road tripper is always independent. Want to take a detour (and we suggest some gems) or stay an extra day? Go right ahead. It’s all about the journey. Driving a car need not be a mode of transport that insulates you from your surroundings: if you stop regularly, explore, encounter local people and their culture, you’ll have as rich and rewarding an experience as you could hope for.”

Under the starry canopy of a Zambian campsite – © Philip Lee Harvey/Lonely Planet

How to Use Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives of the World

The main stories in each regional chapter feature first-hand accounts of fantastic drives in that continent. Each includes a fact-box to start the planning of a trip – when is the best time of year, how to get there, where to stay. But beyond that, these stories should spark other ideas. We’ve started that process with the ‘more like this’ section following each story, which offers other ideas along a similar theme, not necessarily on the same continent. Drives are colour coded according to difficulty, which takes into account not just how long, remote and challenging they are but the logistics and local conditions. The index collects different types of drive for a variety of interests.

Autumn scene in southwest Virginia – Blue Ridge Parkway – © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

The descriptive and emotive words by these travelers have the reader fully immersed in the experience of the journey.

Having scoured this amazing book from cover to cover, I now have five trips scheduled and am working on the timing for many more. The enthusiasm and sharing of feelings by the authors of this book are infectious and have inspired me to not only plan more new road trips, but to revisit some I have already done.

Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives of the World is available at all good book stores and at – RRP $44.99

by Carol Sheridan