The big trip

Epic road trips in America, Australia and Europe

Californian adventures, an Outback odyssey and driving to Corsica

1

United States

The Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California

The Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California

Nick Fox/Alamy Stock Photo

An electric adventure on the Californian coast

Until now, the big American car-hire companies have “shunned” electric and hybrid vehicles – but that looks set to change this year. Last October, Hertz placed a £3.1bn order for 100,000 Tesla Model 3s, and the other giants are likely to follow suit.

Try one out on California’s Pacific Coast Highway, said Chris Haslam in The Times. Creeping around cliffs, “vaulting” steep canyons and soaring above surf-battered beaches as it wends its way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this 451-mile route is the most scenic drive in North America, a “sun-bleached, salt-crusted dream” – and with 350 charging points along its length, you needn’t worry about running out of power.

Linger for a night or two at Avila Beach, where winding lanes lead to the vineyards of the “oak-shaded” See Canyon, and stay at the waterfront Portola Hotel and Spa in Monterey, where sea lions gather on the rocks. Stopping for walks is also a must – from “half-mile strolls through redwood cathedrals” to “spectacular slogs” such as the climb up the 5,155ft Cone Peak, America’s highest coastal mountain.

Cox & Kings (coxandkings.co.uk) has a nine-night trip from £3,925pp, including flights and car hire.

2

Australia

Take a 4X4 on a road trip to Uluru

Take a 4X4 on a road trip to Uluru

Benny Marty/Alamy Stock Photo

An Outback odyssey

If you have been longing for big horizons and grand adventures during the pandemic, head for Australia, said Nigel Richardson in The Daily Telegraph. The country, which finally opened its borders to fully vaccinated tourists last month, offers “some of the most inhospitable yet magnificent driving country in the world”.

To get a taste of it, try the 994-mile journey from Adelaide, on the south coast, to Uluru (or Ayers Rock), near the dead centre of the continent. The “drama” builds slowly as you head north from the bucolic hills of the Clare Valley wine region into the rugged Flinders Ranges and beyond. Set beside the Woomera Protected Area – a “blank on the map” as big as England where the UK tested nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s – the town of Woomera has “an air of sinister desolation”.

More cheerful is the mining settlement of Coober Pedy, a “unique and eccentric desert community” comprising 2,000 people of 50 nationalities. And nearby lie the Breakaway Hills, “the Outback dweller’s Outback” – a range of many-coloured tabletop mountains with a rare “desolate beauty”.

Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk) has a ten-night trip from £4,500pp including flights.

3

Europe

Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica

Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica

Sean Pavone/Alamy Stock Photo

Driving all the way to Corsica

No-fly holidays within Europe are seeing a boom in popularity thanks to worries about climate change. Driving, instead of flying, to the glorious Mediterranean island of Corsica, for example, will reduce your holiday’s carbon footprint by roughly a third. But that’s not the only benefit it offers, said Tommy Melville in The Guardian: it also lets you bring your dog, cuts out the stress of negotiating airports and, most importantly, turns the journey into “part of the adventure”.

Stay somewhere pretty in mainland France – perhaps Nuits-Saint-Georges, set among the vineyards of Burgundy – then the following night take the car ferry from Toulon to Ajaccio, the Corsican capital. Cap Corse, the “finger- like, 25-mile promontory” in the north of the island, has “craggy, dramatic” scenery and “something for everyone”. The entire coastline has “limitless” swimming spots and you might find an Airbnb apartment in the “tiny” fishing port of Marine de Scalo, which has a pretty pebble beach. Gastronomes might like to try Le Pirate, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Erbalunga.

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