Vanlife is a door to adventure. Wherever the road leads, you can follow, and the world, as they say, is your oyster. Dream big, drive far, experience as much of life as you can.
Here are 10 grand road trips, perfectly suited for campervans, all across the globe. Feeling inspired? Try one out for yourself and start living your dreams.
South Africa: The Garden Route
This drive is tiny by the standards of this list, a mere 124 miles. What makes it famous is the wide range of spectacular scenery along the way. Mountains, rainforests, beaches, and caverns can all be found along the road—not to mention an endless supply of resorts.
If this isn’t enough adventure for you, South Africa has many other great driving experiences—such as Route 62 which takes you deep into wine country. Pretty much everywhere you go, you’ll find beautiful landscapes and incredible wildlife.
America: The Grand Circle
The desert southwest of the United States is one of the most stunning and unique landscapes on earth. Every American should have the chance to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and get lost in the utter beauty of the world we live in. The website Travel With Bender has put together one of the best driving tours of this region. Starting in Phoenix, Arizona, this 14-day, 500-mile road trip is a breathless tour of the great plateau and many of the most awe-inspiring sights the U.S. has to offer. People travel from all over the world to experience this place, and for many Americans it’s only a few days travel to get there.
Iceland: Ring Road
The natural beauty of Iceland is legendary. Every mile of this enchanted land feels like it’s high adventure. Iceland has the magical combination of a landscape shaped by both fire and ice. It’s 30 active volcanos account for one-third of the worlds lava output. In the short summers, the foliage explodes with verdant life.
The Ring Road circles the entire island, 830 miles, all of it gorgeous. What’s more, the people of Iceland is well known for their hospitality and warmth. Few cultures have blended modernity and a love of nature so completely as the people of Iceland.
China: National Highway 109
Driving in China is not exactly easy. You need to get a Chinese drivers license, for one, and you won’t be able to use Google maps (because it’s banned in China). But for those who are up for the challenge, you can explore one of the oldest and most geographically diverse nations on earth.
National Highway 109 will take you 2,500 miles from the massive metropolis of Beijing all the way into the heart of Tibet in Lhasa. Once in the interior, you can switch over to the Qinghai-Tibet Highway which parallels route 109 but offers somewhat different vistas along the way. Either way, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.
Canada: Calgary to Fairbanks
The Alcan highway was built during WWII to create an overland route from the continental U.S. to Alaska. It winds its way through some of the most remote and beautiful terrains in North America. Calgary makes a great starting point for the journey.
By taking Highway 93 through Banff National Park you can go all the way to Fairbanks without encountering another major city along the way. There are plenty of small towns, but this is a road trip that will let you see a very wild North America. The amount of wildlife you’ll encounter on this 3,000-mile journey will astound you.
Your final destination is Denali National Park, home to the tallest peak in North America.
Argentina: Route 40
Route 40 is Argentina’s answer to Route 66 in the U.S. This highway travels more than 3,000 miles from the northern tip of Argentina to its southmost extremes. In between, you’ll encounter all the country’s stark and rugged beauty: soaring snowcapped mountains, vast trackless deserts, alpine lakes, and its famous grasslands.
In total, the journey is a little more than 3,000 miles. While most of the route is paved, you’ll encounter at least one gravel section. Many portions of the road are remote, so you should definitely be prepared with automotive basics and enough food and water to sustain you overnight should you have mechanical problems.
European Union: Lisbon to Istanbul
Sunshine, blue water, and the heart of western civilization await you. This 3,500-mile tour of the Mediterranean coast is packed with both natural beauty and rich cultural history. This is not a trip where you will be roughing it or traveling in remote wilderness areas.
Despite traveling through six countries, the open borders within the EU makes travel simple and easy. You will have to spring for a ferry ride from Italy to Greece, but what would a Mediterranean voyage be without taking to the sea at least once? Either direction you travel on this route, your endpoint can be the beginning of a whole new European van-life adventure.
United States: Journey of Lewis and Clark
The journey of Lewis and Clark is perhaps the greatest story of American exploration and adventure. It took the Corps of Discovery more than two years to make their epic journey. Thanks to the great American highway, you can condense the journey to around three weeks and still have lots of time to stop and smell the roses along the way.
The adventure starts in the historic city of Philadelphia and winds its way through the heart of the nation to the Oregon coast. Along the way, you’ll see the vast array of America’s wild places and vibrant communities. LewisAndClarkTrail.com has a suggested motor route and we strongly suggest visiting the great national parks you’ll encounter along this 5,000-mile adventure.
Australia: Highway 1
Highway 1 circles all around the Australian continent. This network of coastal highways is the worlds longest at nearly 9,000 miles. It passes through every major city in the nation and traverses a huge range of spectacular scenery. A stretch on the southern tip—known as the Great Ocean Road—is renown as one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the world.
With so many noteworthy destinations, you could spend a full year exploring Highway 1, but one month of travel can easily get you around the whole continent with enough time to thoroughly enjoy the highlights of the journey.
The Mongol Rally
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d like to drive one-third of the way across the earth—10,000 miles in a camper van.”
The Mongol Rally is a truly epic road trip from the heart of England to the outer reaches of Mongolia. It’s an organized event held each summer by a group called “The Adventurists.” They have three rules for this epic adventure: Have a 1 liter or less engine in your vehicle, raise £1,000 for charity, and they will not help you.
One of their mottos is “If nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong.”
If you want to go with a more robust vehicle, they won’t stop you but they will mock you. This is a road trip that will test you in ways you never imagined.
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