7 ultimate road trips to book now

These seven self-drive holidays make for a road trip to remember, finds Alice Barnes-Brown

Four wheels, a map and a sense of adventure are all that’s needed for the trip of a lifetime. A self-drive holiday allows clients to explore even the remotest reaches of a destination – with plenty of scope for impromptu detours to hidden beauty spots or to follow signs for quirky museums and attractions.

Better still, how clients pace their trip is up to them, so they can choose to soak in the sights slowly or see as much as possible. This means self-drive holidays are suited to most types of traveller, from curious couples to fearless families. Plenty of operators offer road-trip itineraries, so don’t be afraid to suggest a week behind the wheel as an exciting alternative to a fly-and-flop. Here’s where to book now.

Oman desert
Off-roading in Oman’s Wahiba Sands

1. Adventure in Oman

Why go: Regent has added the Arabian nation of Oman to its portfolio of self-drive trips this year. With wide highways, relatively short driving distances and a surprising variety of landscapes, Oman is top-notch road-trip territory.

The route: Muscat marks the starting point; clients can shop in the old-fashioned Mutrah souk, see a show at the dazzling Royal Opera House and cruise along the harbour in a traditional dhow. The hire car is delivered to the hotel, giving them extra time to explore the city.

The rest of the week passes through palm-flecked wadis (valleys), traditional villages and the Wahiba Sands – an orange dunescape that requires tyres to be deflated. There, clients spend a night under the stars in a Bedouin camp – henna art and horse riding are just two of the Omani activities they can try.

Book it: Regent sells the seven-night trip from £2,740 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes flights, transfers, car hire, B&B accommodation, two dinners and experiences listed on the itinerary.

Nambia Wildlife
Okaukuejo in Etosha National Park, Namibia

2. Wildlife in Namibia

Why go: Namibia might not be the first place that springs to mind for a self-drive safari, but there are so many reasons why it should. The roads are quiet and easily navigable (especially in a 4×4 vehicle) and the temperatures in June cool to a perfectly pleasant mid-20s.

The route: Wildlife Worldwide’s self-drive does a circuit of northern Namibia, starting and finishing in capital Windhoek. The first night is spent recovering from the journey, before the first foray into the wild brings clients to the Okonjima Nature Reserve, where the AfriCat Foundation works to conserve endangered animals including cheetahs and pangolins.

Next, a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park offers the chance to spot four of the big five. More wildlife can be seen in the Erongo and Damaraland mountains, but the star attractions here are ancient rock art and scenery that could almost be from another planet.

Book it: Wildlife Worldwide’s 14-day Namibia Self-Drive Safari costs from £5,295 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes flights, B&B accommodation and car hire.

Belgium Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps

3. Grand Prix in Belgium

Why go: A new itinerary from Shearings takes clients to the chequered flags of the Belgian Grand Prix, held on July 28 at the storied Spa-Francorchamps circuit. It’s one for car lovers – and the trip takes place entirely in the client’s own vehicle.

The route: On the first day, they’ll load up the boot and make their way to a cross-Channel port of their choosing. Once on the Continent, it’s a four-hour stint through France and Belgium to the weekend’s hotel: suggest breaking the journey in romantic Bruges or pretty Ghent. Make sure clients head over to the circuit early, so they can soak up the live music and free-flowing Belgian beer; they’re sure to meet like-minded fans and get plenty of opportunities to watch the pro drivers in action.

Book it: The two-night Belgian Grand Prix Self-Drive tour costs from £349 per person, based on two sharing, departing July 27. The price includes B&B accommodation and race-day tickets. Parking at the circuit is €25 extra.

Canada Banff
Peyto Lake, Banff

4. Exploration in Canada

Why go: Taking an RV around Canada’s wilderness has all the benefits of camping, but with a solid roof and a comfy bed. First Class Holidays sells a motorhome odyssey that traverses the astonishing terrain of western Canada in a family-friendly CanaDream Super Van, which features a double bed for the grown-ups and a small double for two kids.

The route: The route starts on Vancouver Island, home to rugged beaches and a blend of European and Pacific Northwest cultures. A stop in the town of Tofino includes a whale-watching boat tour, so wildlife enthusiasts can get their fill. For the next couple of weeks, it’s a slow meander, pausing at ski resorts such as Whistler for a breath of fresh air – only for that breath to be taken away again in Jasper and Banff national parks. The tour’s penultimate stop is the wine region of Kelowna, where a lunch and wine tour makes for a relaxing wind-down.

Book it: First Class Holidays offers the 18-night Wonders of Western Canada by Motorhome tour from £3,449 per person, including flights, motorhome rental, liability insurance, plus whale-watching cruise and wine tour.

Cumberland River
Cumberland River, Nashville, Tennessee

5. Culture in the USA

Why go: The US is prime road-trip country, with speedy highways meaning vast distances can be covered in a day. This itinerary from North America Travel Service, starting in diverse Dallas and finishing in musical Nashville, highlights southern hospitality, cowboy country and Indigenous cultures.

The route: To start, there are three days in Dallas and Fort Worth: suggest stops at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, or a Tex-Mex restaurant for hot enchiladas. Next, it’s through Oklahoma’s tribal lands, where clients can stretch their legs by the sulphur springs of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, get a sugar rush at a Chickasaw-owned chocolatier, then hit the cowboy boot-iques of Oklahoma City.

The drive also passes through Osage Nation lands, where Oscar-nominated Killers of the Flower Moon was set. A little bit of Route 66 then coasts into Tulsa, before stops at historic Muskogee, Little Rock and Memphis bring this all-American epic to a close.

Book it: North America Travel Service’s 16-night Cowboys, Native Cultures, Outlaws and Rock ‘n’ Roll fly-drive starts at £2,819 per person, based on two sharing, including flights, car hire and room-only accommodation.

Automobile Alley
Automobile Alley, Oklahoma City

6. Scenery in Ecuador

Why go: Volcanoes, rainforests, beaches and Inca ruins – you’ll see it all on a thrilling trip around tropical Ecuador.

The route: Clients start in Quito, where they’ll have plenty of free time as well as an expert guided tour, which explores the capital city’s hot-and-heaving markets and Spanish-style cathedral. Not many can say they’ve been to Quito’s ‘Middle of the World City’ – where it’s possible to stand with one foot in each hemisphere – but this trip makes that pit stop. After picking up the car, it’s a drive south through the verdant Avenue of Volcanoes.

Clients can take a detour to hike the conical Cotopaxi volcano or simply admire its majesty from the road. The volcanic landscape then morphs into an Amazonian paradise; just off the E30 highway is the magical El Pailón del Diablo, a powerful waterfall that can be seen up close via a particularly steep set of stairs.

Book it: Latin Routes’ 13-night Ecuador Self-Drive itinerary starts at £3,899 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes flights, transfers, B&B accommodation, car hire, GPS and full-cover insurance.

Best served sweden
Day cruises on a traditional fishing boat on Sweden’s west coast

7. Seafood in Sweden

Why go: Summer in Sweden is special, with the sun not setting till late at night and fresh produce coming into season. Every August, Swedes get together for crayfish parties to celebrate the harvest.

The route: On this leisurely self-drive from Best Served Scandinavia, clients get to sample Sweden’s finest seafood as they drive along the coast between vibrant Gothenburg and Fjällbacka. In Gothenburg, suggest enjoying a Swedish fika (coffee break) – the city is known for its moreish semla buns, filled with almonds and cream.

The town of Fjällbacka brings further boat-based adventures A day cruise on a traditional fishing vessel takes guests to oyster fishing grounds, where they can shuck their own bivalves and wash them down with sweet elderflower juice and tangy stout – a bittersweet taste before the drive back to Gothenburg airport.

Book it: Best Served Scandinavia’s four-night West Coast Seafood Safari costs from £975 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes B&B accommodation, flights, car hire and oyster safari.

Top tip

Reassure clients who are nervous about driving abroad by highlighting how tour operators make their trip a breeze, often providing GPS, driving tips, recommended stops, 24-hour roadside assistance and even physical maps.

Best of the rest

Fred Holidays’ Germany Fairy Tale route is a dream come true. From the intricate models at Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland to medieval towns and Brothers Grimm museums, this is Germany at its enchanting best.

Book it: From £1,199 per person, based on a July 2 departure, including flights, B&B accommodation and car hire.

Audley Travel’s self-drive Costa Rica adventure crosses the entire country, fitting ziplines and white-water rafting in between chilled-out chocolate tastings and Caribbean beaches.

Book it: From £5,370 per person, based on a family of four sharing. The price includes flights, 16 nights’ accommodation, transfers, car hire and excursions detailed in the itinerary.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Discover Puglia road trip coasts around Italy’s heel, stopping in towns filled with conical-shaped trulli houses and offering some of the finest southern Italian food.

Book it: From £4,450 per person, including flights, transfers, seven nights’ B&B accommodation and guiding.

Germany Road trip
Bremen market square and cathedral, Germany
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Alan Falcony, anton_Ivanov, Wolfgang Zwanzger, Sumala Chidchoi, Paula French, Catarina Belova, Sean Pavone, Miti74/Diego Grandi; Paul Zizka Photography; Kool Cats Photography; Roger Borgelid

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