We all love traveling but that little gut feeling that you shouldn't be flying so much? Not so enjoyable. How about challenging yourself to a no-fly vacation, setting off from home and experiencing travel the slow way, taking in landscapes, people and the freedom of the road along the way. Choose from one of these epic journeys without an overcrowded airport in sight.
Transcontinental Road Trip Across the US
The great American road trip has inspired novels, movies and a whole bunch of Jack Kerouac wannabes chasing the open road. The possibilities are endless. First choose whether you’re heading east or west, pick a few not-to-be-missed destinations along the way, and put your pedal to the floor. Don’t forget water, snacks, music and more snacks. The classic Route 66 runs from Chicago to Santa Monica, but for a more reflective trip try the Loneliest Road- Maryland to California through expansive landscapes with some remote and desolate stretches.
The mother of all roadtrips and the longest road in the world. If you start from Alaska and finish in Argentina you will cross two continents, 14 countries, and 48,000km of road. Most people take a year or more to experience everything there is to offer along the way. Jaw-dropping scenery through mountains, jungles and deserts, and a whole host of people and cultures will give you stories to last a lifetime.
Alaska Marine Highway
Alaska is huge and as most of it can’t be accessed by road you need to head to the seas. The Alaska Marine Highway is so scenic it’s the only marine route to have been designated an All American Road. It’s like a cruise for people who don’t like cruises. Simple ferries that allow you to get on and off wherever you’d like, pass through spectacular scenery, and spot whales from the boat. Explore villages off the tourist grid, get an insight into native Alaskan communities and travel alongside Alaska residents.
Stretching across 14 states from Georgia to Maine the Appalachian Trail is one long hike. It takes people on average 5 to 7 months to complete a ‘thru-hike’ from one end to another. Most people set off northbound from Georgia in March or April and hope to reach Maine before winter. The trail never gets too far from civilization, so regular visits to a town to refuel are possible, and there are 260 shelters along the way to spend the night in.
VIA Rail Canada's The Canadian
One amazing rail trip across the vast expanse of Canada, starting in the urban bustle of Toronto and sweeping through the Rockies to the serene west coast. Train travel has to be the chillest, most romantic way of getting from A to B, gawping at scenery out the window and filling up on delicious food from the dining car. If you get bored looking out the window there are wine tastings, music shows and access to lounges and cars with glass ceilings!
Pacific Crest Trail
With the publication of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild and the Reese Witherspoon movie that followed, the PCT got a lot more fans. The full trail is 2,600 miles from the US/Mexico Border through California, Oregon and Washington, passing through 25 national forests and seven national parks. It’s the perfect trail to lose (or find) yourself. It does require planning for where you will resupply your food and 5 months of your time depending how far you hike.
Baja Peninsula Road Trip
If you want some winter sun, forget the airport, jump in the car and follow the snowbirds south. Winter weather is perfect for doing this 1000 mile stretch of coast full of unspoilt wild beaches, shrimp tacos and open skies over the desert. Cross the border in Tijuana and head south. The best thing about driving is the ability to skip tourist hotspots and find deserted beaches. Wild camping is free through much of Baja allowing you to wake up to the sun poking its head over the ocean
Autumn Foliage New England Road Trip
New England is synonymous with fall so hit the road and take in nature’s big show before winter kicks in. New England and Maine are awash with color and charming towns but if we had to choose a state, Vermont is 80% covered in forest so seems like a sure bet. Hit Route 100 in October and wind through a kaleidoscopic autumn dreamworld.
Long Story Short...
Before the age of cheap air travel, journeys were slower, took more planning, and felt more epic. Traveling by road, water or rail allows much more interaction with both a place and its people. With so many options for traveling without flying, you won’t ever have to wait in a baggage line again. For more inspiration check out Byway Travel for flight-free vacations and a helpful trip planner.
Written by Laura Sedlak