Family travel bloggers inspire us with their favourite family road trip ideas from around the world.
I remember a childhood full of road trips. Hours upon hours stuck in a car with loved ones might not appeal to all, but to be honest, so little of that I remember in retrospect.
I do recall waking up in different places, the huge transformation from city to country and one town to the next, my dad’s magnificent itinerary planning and let’s be honest, probably where my love for travel was born.
We’ve asked our team of family travel bloggers to reveal some of their favourite and most rewarding road trips of all time from around the globe. Some are whole countries, some are just snippets from enormous nations that you simply can’t miss. Yes, it looks like our bucket list just got longer!
This post is part of our Best Family Destinations series
Epic Road Trips in Europe
Iceland Road Trip
Recommended by Ting from My Travel Monkey
As much as Iceland’s capital Reykjavik had plenty of wonderful attractions to keep visitors occupied, it wasn’t until we hit the road did we like we got a true sense of this breathtaking country.
A self-drive adventure is a great way of seeing more of the countryside without the hassle of sticking to schedules and waiting around for other tourists. Being on the open road was fantastic. It was my most favourite part of our Iceland trip.
We could travel for hours and just be in awe of the sweeping landscapes surrounding us. It was hard not to constantly gasp – we’d often see snowy-topped mountains, icy rivers, frozen seas and waterfalls when we were least expecting them.
We also got to find some hidden gems en route that were empty of tourists – and drive for some time without seeing another soul. This meant that we often felt like the only people on this magical land, perpetuated by the shimmering snow.
Looking to hire a car for your next vacation? Essential reading on International hire car tips and hacks
Recommended by LeAnna from the Economical Excursionist
The effects of potatoes on history, beer on the color of chocolate, rolling green hills and some of the friendliest people on the planet. I can only be talking about one place; Ireland.
This island is a coveted travel destination for many people and it is clear to see why. There is so much to do and see that it is often hard to narrow down your choices.
You could spend months travelling throughout Ireland and still not see everything – we covered the highlights in a week including the Cliffs of Moher (pictured), Trim Castle (think Braveheart), the Dingle Peninsula, Blarney and of course Dublin.
Bucket list getting too long? Our top tips here on how to prioritise international trips with kids
Road Tripping Romania in the winter
Recommended by Ruth from Exploramum
Most people take a road trip when the sun is shining, and the weather is fine. We, however, decided to take a journey through Romania in the heart of winter. And I loved every minute of it! Call me crazy, but you don’t find the average Australian single mother taking her 9-year-old son on an adventure through the heart of Romania. Not when she is driving on the other side of the road, and certainly not when it is snowing!
So why was it so great? Firstly I loved the freedom. The roads were quiet. We could stop whenever we liked with ease – that is a photographers dream. We were able to pull over for bathroom breaks, lunch when we needed, and pop in and out of towns and decided where we wanted to stay for the night. Nothing was full, so prices were low. I loved the serenity. As the snow softly fell, and it was a blanket of white. We loved the people. Friendly and helpful; as though time stood still.
We enjoyed a white Christmas and loved the town Christmas markets with their local produce. And for New Year, we chose a tiny town with a medieval resort where we shared one of the best banquets I’ve ever encountered. To finish it off, we ventured out for a horse and sleigh ride on New Years Day.
We loved Romania so much we ended up taking two separate winter road trips. Even my son (who is now eleven) declared just this week that he would love to return there again for their winter.
You can learn more about road tripping Transylvania and visiting Romania here.
Germany Road Trip
Recommended by Diana from The Elusive Family
Germany has some of the most famous road trips in the world with several major routes that visitors from all over the world come to see. A few major routes include the Fairytale Route, Romantic Road, Black Forest High Road, German Wine Route and Castle Route. These road trips encompass some of the most magical and beautiful castles, events and historical things to see in Germany. Combine all these routes into one epic German road trip!
The Fairytale Route is behind the inspiration to the Grimm brothers’ fairytales. Many of the stops along this road are reminiscent of a variety of stories that the brothers wrote including Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. Over 370 miles of the route takes visitors on an adventure through stories.
The Romantic Road takes visitors through the infamous Neuschwanstein Castle as long as wine countries, numerous castles, monasteries and beautiful villages. The Black Forest High Road is a much shorter route through the Rhine River Valley and goes through several mountain ranges for spectacular views from a variety of vantage points.
The German Wine Route winds its way through numerous vineyards with ample opportunities to visit try some of the most spectacular wines Germany has to offer. Finally, the Castle Route is a highly popular route traversing through over 600 miles of roads hitting more than 70 castles, many of which you can sleep in!
Sicily Road Trip
Recommended by Wani from Travel Muse Family
Sicily is an epic road trip for 5 reasons: Architecture, Landscape, Food, People and Accommodation.
In 5 days and 5 nights we drove roughly 500km across: Catania – Enna – Piazza Armerina – Ragusa – Modica – Donalucata – Scicli – Noto – Ortigia – Catania
For architecture, Noto, in particular, was a big highlight. Home to many fine buildings of the early 18th century, many of which are considered to be the finest examples of Sicilian Baroque style, you can visit endless palaces, churches, cathedrals and monasteries on its two main streets.
The rolling hills of Sicily reminded me of New Zealand and Ireland. What differed were the stunning old baroque towns on those hills such as Enna, Caltagirone, Modica and Ragusa.
I cannot forget the fresh grilled octopus we had by the beach in Donalucata or the gelato in brioche bread for breakfast in Scicli. What about the delicious seafood pasta after a walk around the gorgeous city of Catania or the pistachio and ricotta-filled croissants for breakfast by the sea in Ortigia?
Language didn‘t seem to be a barrier for the locals to try and communicate with us. Another unforgettable thing was the cave hotels we stayed at in Enna and Modica.
Epic Road Trips in Africa & Asia
Long distances as well as stark landscapes, through to the lush tropics of Malaysia – here’s what you can expect road tripping in Asia & Africa with your kids.
Morocco Road Trip
Recommended by Jenny from Travelynn Family
If you’re looking to travel Morocco with kids, the best way to do it is by hiring a car and self-driving. The roads are remarkably good, you’ll find secure parking outside of medinas, and for a family of four, we found it cheaper (and significantly easier) than using public transport.
Morocco offers so much diversity and you can cover a lot in just a couple of weeks. We hired our car from Marrakech airport and then spent 2.5 weeks road tripping up to the blue city of Chefchaouen in the North via the capital of Rabat, then on to the Sahara Desert to go camel riding and sandboarding, before making our way back to Marrakech with a detour to the Atlas Mountains.
There are regular police checks on the road, but the police were always polite and we had no trouble. The trickiest driving was up to the Atlas Mountains with the hairpin bends and potholes. But we just took it slow. A fantastic adventure!
Jordan Road Trip
Recommended by Keri from Family Travel in the Middle East
Hands down our favourite family road trip was around Jordan. We picked up a hire car in Amman and headed immediately south to start our journey in the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba, before slowly winding our way back through the depths of the country.
From the fascinating rock structures and vast desert plains of Wadi Rum, through to the Lost City of Petra, dramatically hidden in the mountains, I argue you will find no grander entrance on earth than passing through the Siq to reveal the Treasury (this part is on foot, so plenty of chances to stretch the legs too!).
From Petra, a very long and winding mountainous Kings Highway takes you through the centre of the country, passing ancient Crusader castles and villages that time forgot before descending to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth.
At a bare minimum, you could cover this road trip in a week, but you wouldn’t do it justice. Allow yourself at least 10 days so you can add an additional loop to the north, including the ancient cities of Jerash and Umm Qais. Also near to Amman you can add several religious sites including Mount Nebo and Madaba, or the ancient Roman site Umm er-Raasas with its Byzantine mosaics.
Don’t overpay for your hire car! Our tips and tricks on making car hire cost-effective
Southern Africa Road Trip
Recommended by Jenny from Travelynn Family
Easily the most epic road trip we’ve done with our kids, has to be the 101 days overlanding Africa in a Land Rover Defender. At the time, our boys were just 2 and 4 years old and we had no 4×4 experience whatsoever.
This epic adventure took us from South Africa, through to Mozambique, Malawi, up to Tanzania, and back down through Zambia and Namibia, returning to South Africa. A total of 15000 kilometres and 5 border crossings.
We dealt with corrupt officials, impassable roads, once-in-a-generation weather events, and of course the usual toddler tantrums along the way. But all that pales into insignificance when I think of the seemingly endless nights camping under the African stars, the incredible wildlife experiences, the warm welcome from villages we passed, and the tighter bond we formed as a family.
Africa stole our hearts and we will be forever changed by the experience.
East Coast Malaysia Road Trip
Recommend by Tina from Hangry by Nature
I’m sorry – what? Did you say “driving in South East Asia?” Yes, I did. However, I promise you, Malaysia is different. This probably never crossed your mind considering its not low-key knowledge that driving in this region usually constitutes some kind of death wish.
Here’s the thing – roads in Malaysia are much wider, there are considerably fewer bikes, and most importantly of all, there are proper rules (and most drivers actually abide by them).
We picked up our rental car in Johor Bahru after making our way up from Singapore via bus. From thereon, we embarked on a 2-week road trip, starting at Legoland, then made our way up via the coastal route to the historic city of Malacca to explore 17th-century architecture and devour their famed chicken rice balls.
From Malacca, it was a cruisy drive via the main freeway to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. We stopped in Putrajaya to visit the stunning pink Putra Mosque before we proceeded on our way to the capital city.
We spent a solid week exploring all that Kuala Lumpur had to offer in way of food, shopping and attractions. There’s a ton of activities and sights for family travellers – the fun never ends in this bustling city. We made our way up further north to eat up a storm in Penang and check out the incredible street art in Georgetown and then kicked back on the beautiful beaches of Langkawi.
If there’s one place in South East Asia to rent a car and explore, it’s Malaysia. The roads are well-developed and much safer than its counterparts and we can only recommend it as an unforgettable family adventure.
Epic Australian & NZ Road Trips
With a country as large as Australia, it’s no surprise that we have several entries covering coast to coast of Australia – and everything in between! Plus the whole country of New Zealand…
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Recommended by Marianne from Mum on the Move
The Great Ocean Road is the most well-known road trip in Australia, renowned for its amazing coastal views including its famous landmark, the Twelve Apostles.
The road runs 244km from Torquay to Warnambool in the state of Victoria in the south of Australia. The drive itself is incredible, with stunning clifftop views out over the ocean and of its amazing natural rock formations.
There are plenty of fun things to do along the way too. Our highlights included walking through the rainforest to the Erskine Falls, visiting the Cape Otway Lighthouse, spotting koalas in the trees at Kennet River and even zip-lining through the trees at the Otway Fly.
It is possible to do the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne in a day. But I really wouldn’t recommend this. I would recommend a minimum of three days to do it justice – there are plenty of amazing places to stay along the Great Ocean Road. We took four days, and I wish we had had longer.
Margaret River Region, Western Australia
Sally-Ann from Toddlers on Tour
The quintessential Australian road trip requires hours and hours and hours on the road. It can be quite a long slog for anyone, let alone those with kids. My child struggles with even a 2 ½ hour road trip to the start of the Margaret River Region south of Perth, Western Australia.
However within a couple of days of being on the road visiting tourist sites like Amaze’n Margaret River and Ngilgi Cave the cries of, “how much longer?” and, “what time is it?” begin to dim, which is perfect as we then choose to spend an entire day on the road tasting our way around the Margaret River Region.
We start with morning tea at The Berry Farm devouring home-made scones with freshly whipped cream and locally made jams. We move on to taste their full range of jams, sauces and vinegars. Then we drive onto Temper Temper (a chocolate factory) and Vasse Olive (offering soaps and cleansers made from olives).
The rest of the day we are in and out the car stopping for tastes of candy, venison, cheese, nuts, fresh bread, wine and more chocolate. Perhaps it is the fact we stop regularly or it is all the great food we find, either way, it makes for an enjoyable full days family road trip with limited calls of “are we there yet?”
Also not to miss in the Margaret River region are the stunning surf beaches, amazing caves and beautiful lighthouses. Margaret River is just 3 hours from Perth if you drive direct, but there are plenty of stops to make along the way. Ideally, you will need 3 to 7 days to cover Western Australia’s southern region.
You can find a full 9-day south-west WA road trip itinerary from Perth to Albany here
The Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
Recommended by Nicci from TripChiefs
We’ve driven a lot of roads in Australia but the ultimate Australian road trip would have to be the Red Centre Way in the Northern Territory.
Full of iconic scenery and experiences like Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs, the Red Centre Way is as vast as it is epic.
From wildlife to waterfalls, mountains to sand dunes, plus fascinating cultural experiences, the Red Centre Way will be a road trip you’ll remember forever.
Allow a minimum of five days to drive the 690km and enjoy the sites, plus extra if you don’t have access to a 4WD (which means you can’t take the back roads and need to drive further).
Road tripping through central Australia isn’t for the faint-hearted and you need to be fully prepared on these remote roads. We did this trip as part of a 10,000km round trip from Brisbane to Yulara. The shorter way to do it is to fly to Alice Springs and hire a car or camper van.
Tip: There isn’t an abundance of accommodation so make sure you book ahead, even if you’re camping or caravanning.
New Zealand Road Trip
Recommended by Catherine from Travelling with the Littles
We spent a month road tripping around New Zealand’s North and South Islands, and it was the trip of a lifetime. We spent a month there and barely scratched the surface of what New Zealand has to offer.
There are two ways to road trip around New Zealand- (1) rent a car and stay in hotels and hostels, (2) rent a camper van and stay in caravan parks. We did the first, and if we were to do it again with kids, I’d recommend renting a campervan. Another thing you should know about renting a car in New Zealand is that your rental is going to be old. I don’t mean like 2015 old, I mean like 2005 old. Here is the route we followed and what we missed:
- Auckland: Jump off the top of the Sky Tower
- New Plymouth
- Tongariro National Park: Hike Tongariro Crossing
- Rotorua: Check out the geothermal features, and Maori Culture at Wai-O-Tapu, and Te Puia. Also, get in some R&R at the Polynesian Spa
- Waitomo: Experience the glowworm caves and the Lost World 100 meter abseil
Fly from Auckland to either Nelson or Blenheim, or take the ferry from Wellington to Picton. We opted to fly from Auckland to Nelson and rent another car.
- Blenheim: Tour Marlborough’s Vineyards by bike
- Kaikoura: Swim with dolphins and whale watch
- Greymouth: Visit the Pancake Rocks and search for jade
- Franz Joseph Glacier: Visit the rainforest and hike the glacier
- Queenstown: Bungee Jump off of the Kawarau Bridge and Jet Boat Ride at Shotover River Canyons
- Doubtful Sound: This was the highlight of the trip!! Do an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound!
- Milford Sound: Do the boat tour
I wish we had made it to Christchurch on the South Island and the Northern peninsula of the North Island. You need a minimum of two weeks for each island, but you really can’t go wrong with your itinerary.
New Zealand truly is a magnificent country and a great country for a road trip!
Further Reading: Insider guide to New Zealand’s most loved beach
Epic Road Trips in the Americas
To lump all of North and South America together barely does any justice to these vast continents, but here are just a handful of the best road tripping locations picked out by our family travel bloggers:
Peru Road Trip
Recommended by Ariana World of Travels with Kids
Taking on a road trip in Peru is not for the novice traveller – but for someone itching for adventure and decent driving skills then this Peru Road trip is for you!
Unless you have a lot of time we’d start in Arequipa and work your way upwards via Puno and Lake Titicaca, finishing up in Cusco after visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
What makes this road trip particularly epic is that it includes several 4500m plus passes as well as a visit to the world’s second deepest canyon, the Colca Canyon. Throw in Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake and this is a trip of extremes.
Driving times are not particularly long, from about 3 hours to 6 hours on driving days – we’d suggest staying 2-3 days in the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and then in the Sacred Valley before finishing up in Cusco. Allow a total minimum time of 2-weeks.
Road trip Yucatan, Mexico
Recommended by Lisa from FlipFlopGlobetrotters
When planning a 6-week family holiday to the Yucatan Peninsula, we decided to rent a car and do a 2-week road trip as part of our stay. This was the first time road tripping with our 5-year old and definitely not the last. We had a blast!
We made the following loop: Puerto Morelos – Bacalar – Escárcega – Palenque – Campeche – Valladolid – Puerto Morelos (about 1700km).
Some of the highlights of our trip:
- sailing on the beautiful turquoise waters of Laguna Bacalar
- seeing the amazing Mayan ruins in Palenque
- swimming in the gorgeous Roberto Barrios Cascades at Palenque
- visiting colorful Campeche
- swimming at the cenotes near Valladolid
- discovering the Cobá Mayan ruins by bike
We stayed 3-4 days in each location which gave us enough time to sightsee, but you can easily stay longer and turn this into a 3-week itinerary. Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Merida and Ek Balam would make great additions.
Road Trip through the Rockies
Recommended by Jacs from Flashpacking Family
Road tripping is one of our favourite ways to see a country. Being master of your own destiny and not having to follow someone else’s agenda gets our vote every time. This is why, when visiting the west coast of Canada, we decided to include an epic Vancouver to Calgary road trip taking the scenic route.
It took a little longer but believe us, it was worth it! It gives you beautiful coastal views along the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, a mountain playground for extreme sports enthusiasts and one or two black bears.
Follow majestic mountain views along Highway 99 to Cache Creek, Highway 1 to Kamloops and then Highway 5 all the way up to Tête Jaune Cache where you will see Mount Robson towering above the other peaks. From Tête Jaune, head into Jasper for wildlife viewing (expect to see bears, moose, big horn sheep).
Carry on down through Jasper and into Banff, driving along the utterly iconic Icefields Parkway, complete with glaciers and turquoise lakes (including the famous Lake Louise). One of our favourite road trip tips – remember to occasionally look in the rear-view mirror – especially here!
From Banff head to Calgary where the Rockies end abruptly giving way to the prairie with canyons, hoodoos and dinosaurs, and if you time it right, some real-life cowboys at the Calgary stampede.
Canada is vast and varied and beautiful. It is tempting to try to see it all but don’t underestimate the distances involved!
Buried deep in the Rockies, discover the city of Kelowna
Road Trip Highway 1, California, USA
Recommended by Kimberley from Stuffed Suitcase
One of the most epic road trips in the United States is along the coast of California, better known as Highway 1 or the Pacific Coastal Highway. This west coast road trip travels along the longest state route in the state of California and will lead you from redwoods in the north all the way down to the beaches of Southern California at Dana Point. Along the 656 mile drive, you’ll get up close and personal with the unique shoreline of the US west coast.
Up north, you’ll have the chance to see the majestic coastal redwood trees that can tower over 300 feet in height. Along the central coast, you want to allow extra time to enjoy the turnouts to see sites like Bixby Bridge, waterfalls and rocks at Big Sur, and even sea otters hanging out at Morro Bay.
Once you hit Southern California it’s all about soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves, and doing some serious shopping. One of my best tips for the journey is to drive it north to south. You’ll be closest to the edge and have easier access to all the turnouts and vista points.
Florida Keys, USA
Tonya from Detail Oriented Traveler
One of my favorite road trips took place driving the 90 mile stretch of the Florida Keys. 90 miles may not seem like much of a road trip and if you were on the interstate, it would last less than 90 minutes. However, just like everything else in the islands, driving is a bit slower, forcing you to enjoy the scenery more.
I’d say the entire trip takes about 4 hours from Homestead to Key West, but we found plenty of places to stop along the way that makes it a 2-day trip for us – rent an RV in Florida and set off to explore!
The first hidden gem we happened upon was the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary. Located in Tavernier, this is a blink and you’ll miss it kind of place. The sanctuary provides a safe and humane place for injured birds to live out their lives. They have a beautiful walking trail through the mangroves and if you time it right, you can feed the pelicans at the end of the trail.
Our other must stop in the Keys is to eat at Lorelai in Islamorada. The large mermaid out front makes it seem like an old roadside attraction, but toes in the sand, eating the freshest seafood ever on the beach later and you’ll know you picked the right spot.
Lorelai has a bar and covered seating, as well as patio chairs with umbrellas right on the sand. Our favorite is the giant booth gliders that allow you to feel as if you’re on a porch swing. It’s perfect for enjoying the sunset.
Maria from One Tiny Leap
After four months on the road, Oregon was pretty much the dreamiest part of our whole trip through the States. We started in quirky Portland, which had long been somewhere I’d wanted to visit – the city was vibrant and we had a memorable walk through Forest Park, which was like something out of a fairy-tale, absolutely gorgeous.
From Portland we drove down the coast to Cannon Beach where we spent one of the best days of our trip, including a short though energetic hike on the coastal cliffs- which got me a little freaked out after seeing a sign warning of ‘Mountain Lions’ – complete with an ice cream to reward ourselves for our effort (Charlie) and bravery (me).
Then it was on to a detour to the picture-perfect Cape Lookout for some quality beach time, and Tillamook where we visited the famous local cheese factory. Heading further south, we stopped for a few days in a quaint little coastal community called Yachats, with whales in the sea and fresh fish for dinner every evening – somewhere I could easily see myself living.
We spent a couple of hours at the famous Thor’s Well, a huge pit in the rocks that draws the seawater inside then spits it out. The motion of the water is mesmerising.
Nearby, we also paid a brief visit to a huge cave full of sea lions that were remarkably unfazed by the waves crashing all around the rocks they were perched upon.
Our final stretch in Oregon took us to the placid and utterly breathtaking Crater Lake, staying in one of our funkiest AirBnN accommodations to date, an A-frame house in the countryside with a couple of friendly deer for our neighbours.
During our six months on the road in the US, I can honestly say our time in Oregon was some of the very best, and I would absolutely love to return there one day.
North America – Mother of All Road Trips
Erin from Explore with Erin
Now we couldn’t do a round-up of US road trips without including Erin and the Mother of all Road Trips!
Our epic #motherofallroadtrips had us road tripping the US and Canada for a year. From New York to Eastern Canada, on to the middle of the US. After that we did a quick flight to Oregon to pick up Big Red for the rest of our journey. From Oregon to Vancouver, Vancouver to New York, New York to Florida to Texas and finishing in Las Vegas.
We covered big attractions like Disney World, funny attractions like the Big Can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and historic destinations like Mount Rushmore. The US and Canada are so varied and interesting it’s been an amazing trip through time, food and culture.
Thanks to all our Best Destinations Family Travel Blogger contributors – do go and check out their blogs as well for a more in-depth look at their adventures.
Have we missed your favourite Road Trip? Where else can you recommend children are bound to be kept entertained for hours despite the drive?
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