Lake Louise, Alberta, CanadaWhen planning a trip, you probably think about where you’re going to go and what you’re going to see. But how are you going to get from place to place within your destination? The mode of transportation you choose to use can completely alter the experience of your trip: Tourist transport is easy and can take the hassle out of planning; local public transportation offers a glimpse into the nitty-gritty of daily life. Taking transportation into your own hands, however, can be a great way to personalize any trip. Rent a car, a campervan or motorbike. Drive through the countryside. Go off the beaten path. Take an epic adventure covering hundreds of miles, or simply head out on a one-day journey. The benefits of road trips are numerous. Consider some of these:

1. You can travel at your own pace.

Do you want to linger at a seaside viewpoint in New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Sound? Sure you do! Do you want to stop at a roadside village in Turkey for lunch instead of rushing back to the city? Of course.

Without a set itinerary or a group of fellow travelers to worry about, you can create your own schedule and move from place to place whenever you’re ready.

Tree-lined Turkish Road

2. You can see the attractions that interest you the most.

When I arrive in a new place, I always peruse the tours on offer. There isn’t always a perfect option that allows me to visit the sites I really want to see and omit those that I’m less interested in.

With your own set of wheels, you can pick and choose activities, attractions, restaurants, and shops that interest you the most and go directly to those. Not to mention, recommendations and new ideas can always pop up spontaneously—a detour is never a problem when you’re the tour director.

“…how are you going to get from place to place within your destination? The mode of transportation you choose to use can completely alter the experience of your trip.”

3. You can check out places that tours and buses don’t or can’t go.

You know that secluded beach in Bali at the end of that really windy and bumpy road? The one where public transport just doesn’t seem to go? How about that local temple the manager of your hostel mentioned that is supposed to be in that quaint town on the other side of the mountain? With your own car, you can make it there. No need to try and catch a ride or grab a taxi.

4. You’ll save money (depending on your location).

Depending on your destination, traveling via public transport or local taxi may not be cost effective or efficient. For example, on the island of Milos, Greece, the cost of a taxi for a day of beach hopping could blow your trip budget right out of the Aegean Sea! Public buses don’t always stop at all the beaches, either; it depends on the season in which you’re visiting.

A short one-day car or motorbike rental cuts the cost significantly and gives you the freedom to turn your day at the beach into a road trip around the island.

Uluru from the rearview mirror 5. You’ll have more privacy.

Yes, part of the experience of traveling through Guatemala is to ride a local bus with chickens sitting at your feet. Sometimes, though, you just need a little space.

Moreover, it might not be culturally appropriate to belt out show tunes at the top of your lungs while driving down a highway in a beautiful new place (as I so often feel inclined to do). This can certainly be done more comfortably in the privacy of your own car. And I am confident that your fellow travelers would agree with that, too!


Words and photos: Annie Shustrin