To mark the launch of our latest Best Trips book we asked Lonely Planet staff to share their stories of times spent on the road. Ever the adventurous bunch, these daring drivers recall time spent navigating hairy mountain paths, drifting down coastal roads on the hunt for brilliant beaches and driving into the downright bizarre on off-the-beaten track escapades.
A well-deserved picnic in the Pyrenees, France
I can confirm, hand firmly on steering wheel, that the craggy beauty of the Pyrenees is unimpaired by vertigo and a carload of terrified loved ones. As a student living in the south of France, I was the naive host of a family road trip through the range. Setting off from my hometown of Pau, picnic blankets in tow, we climbed through the foothills breakfasting on local pâté and bread, and remarked on the farmers drinking red wine at 9am. Rising higher, we spotted marmots gambolling in the grass, bought sheep’s cheese at a roadside stand, and started to see patches of snow.
Even higher, as an eagle hovered alongside our car, my mother closed her eyes and started clinging to the seat belt. Crawling around the switchbacks,
Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year, we all make mistakes that can cause headaches or possibly even ruin your trip. The good news is that with a little planning, it’s easy enough to avoid some of the most common travel mistakes so you can spend your time enjoying your vacation.
It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes it difficult to haul your luggage around, and you may get stuck with high baggage fees for accidentally exceeding the weight limit. Instead, pack your bag as usual, then take out half the clothes you originally planned. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road.
2. Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan
It’s important to know what your plan covers to avoid data roaming fees. Not covered? Turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying
Newfoundland in its entirety is impossible to experience in one trip, so it’s best to instead focus on one area and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Eastern Newfoundland’s rich history, culture and scenery have plenty to see and do in the span of a week or two, so pack your bags (and your jacket) and set off for the youngest and most colorful province in Canada!
The Best Time to Visit Eastern Newfoundland
The simple answer? Summer. While it’s usually easy to reason that off-season might be fairly less expensive and attract less tourists, there’s really no better time to see this Canadian island than in the summer months from June to August.
Visiting in the summer gives you the chance to see the best that Newfoundland has to offer: lively festivals, wildlife watching of puffins and whales, colorful scenery and pastel wildflowers. The eastern coast is also known for a belt of massive icebergs known as Iceberg Alley, best viewed in May and June.
Standard US/Canadian airlines like Delta and Air Canada fly into St. John’s international airport on a regular basis; I’ve found Kayak’s comparison
Yosemite National Park is a gearhead’s dream. Just spend a few days in Camp Four and you’ll see that what makes this a singular destination for climbers – explorers from across the globe gather here to exchange route beta, challenge themselves on the amazing bouldering problems around the campsite and sort through endless piles of gear.
To the untrained eye, these collections might look like a whirling dervish of clanking metal and knotted mayhem. But they serve unique and bespoke purposes that, in the right hands, can get you safely up and down the towering granite cathedrals of this enchanting valley.
Getting started at rock climbing in Yosemite
There are climbs for every ability imaginable somewhere in this park. First-timers should hit up the Yosemite Mountaineering School to do intro courses. In these intros, you’ll learn to safely belay your climbing partner, how to use your feet and hands properly to ascend the rock, and the basics of rock climbing safety. You’ll have a blast doing it, but it’s important to remember that climbing is dangerous. You should only go out on your own if you (or your partner) already know what you are doing. You can take more advanced courses at the
Underwater wreckage that tells the story of WWII battles in the Pacific, manta rays the size of sedans and tiny critters darting in and out of coral gardens – Bali ranks high as a dream destination for most scuba divers. Thanks to its warm, calm waters and dive sites that range from beginner to advanced, Bali has an array of experiences for every diver.
But packing for an underwater adventure isn’t the same as packing for a regular trip. Airline weight restrictions coupled with the specific equipment required for diving means packing only the necessities. Here’s what to pack for a Bali dive trip.
For the first-time diver
With a variety of top-notch dive shops, professionally certified instructors and beginner-friendly conditions, Bali is a great place to learn how to dive. Remember to pack a few extra items to ensure your experience goes smoothly. Make sure you’ve signed up for a course from a reputable PADI, NAUI, SSI operator (ask to see certification if unsure). Bring your textbook, a pencil and a notebook.
For the marine biologist
Bali is home to 952 species of reef fish, such as eels, triggerfish and neon-bright damselfish. Elsewhere, divers can swim with eye-popping pelagics like the 1000kg sunfish
Colombo is more than just a gateway to the resorts and surf breaks of Sri Lanka’s south coast. Despite the noise and crowds, this is a city of vibrant colours and rich culture, offering fascinating insights into the national psyche of Sri Lanka.
Many people rush through Colombo and make straight for the beaches, but linger and you’ll find a city full of history, where stately British colonial buildings jostle for space with Sri Lankan dagobas (stupas), palm-shaded parks and Dutch colonial churches. Here are 10 great ways to explore this constantly evolving city for free.
Snake charmers charm at Viharamahadevi Park
Colombo is spoilt for choice when it comes to places to chill out, but beautifully maintained Viharamahadevi Park is a city favourite. The parades of palms and fig trees are spectacular, the lawns are dotted with statues and fountains, there are views of Colombo’s colonial-era Town Hall, and there’s always the chance of catching the odd snake charmer in action. Find a shady spot and you can people-watch for hours.
Join the locals on Colombo’s favourite promenade
Whilst it might not be quite as green as it once was, Galle Face Green is still frequented by locals in search of some
Norway is one of those travel destinations where you need to be ready for weather changes in an instant. We took a road trip in the Fjord region in late August and our days would range from sunny and warm temps to snow on the ground while driving from one fjord to another.
When visiting destinations with fickle weather, like Norway, it’s always best to bring layers — even when visiting in the summer months. We consulted our Alaska packing guide before this trip, but added a few different items for the days we spent in Bergen and Alesund.
We got so accustomed to clear skies during our visit in late August that we found ourselves unprepared on an extremely long hike to Feigumfossen waterfall in Lusterfjord. At the top of the steep climb, buckets of rain began pouring down on us and we were in for a very wet and extremely muddy shuffle down the mountain. We used the only warmth we had to cover our camera gear because we even forgot our backpack rain cover in the car!
If you plan on doing any intense hiking in the fjords, make sure to be prepared for colder temperatures at the top! I cannot stress
Drifting across the mirror-still surface of a shallow bay in Kosterhavet, Sweden’s first national marine park, the reason why the Bohuslän Coast beguiles visitors becomes as clear as the water barely stirring beneath the kayak.
In a country lauded for its stewardship of the environment (Swedenranks first and third in the world respectively in the most recently published Global Green Economy Index and Environmental Performance Index), the west coast is a showcase of sensitive development.
Stretching north from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border, the region features pine forests framing fjord-like lakes, charming coastal towns and, of course, a vast archipelago of 8000 islands, islets and skerries, whose distinctive Bohus granite glows orangey-pink in the rising and setting sun.
In summer, that sun shines for 18 hours a day at this latitude, giving you plenty of time to explore what Bohuslän has to offer; better still, the E6 motorway, which runs parallel to the coast for about 100 miles, forms the backbone of a readymade route for independent travellers. The only decision that remains is what to see along the way.
First stop: Marstrand – find the perfect place to drop anchor
Calculate the total value of the yachts gliding to and fro in Marstrand’s
Hawke’s Bay is the larder of New Zealand: apples, figs, peaches, squashes and, most notably, grapes. Hugging the east coast of the North Island, this is the country’s oldest wine-growing region, and in April the grapes are being plucked: 4700 hectares of vineyards harvesting 45,000 tonnes of fruit. The serried vines begin to glow russet and gold under the autumn sun too.
Still reasonably warm and dry, this is a great time to explore by bicycle. Hawke’s Bay has New Zealand’s biggest network of gentle cycle paths, many of which link wine estates, cafes and cellar doors. Try the flat, off-road 22-mile (36 km) Wineries Ride, which navigates the grape-growing heartland of Bridge Pa, Gimblett Gravels and Ngatarawa Triangle. Napier, with its art deco architecture and Saturday Urban Food Market, makes a good base.
- Trip plan: Enjoy the historic streets and fine eats of Napier and Hastings. Then follow a couple of easy cycle trails – perhaps one along the coast, another between wine estates.
- Need to know: There are flights to Hawke’s Bay daily from Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
- Other months: Dec-Feb – warmest; Mar-May – wine harvest; Jun-Sep – winter, cool. Oct-Nov – spring produce, warming up.
Discover bazaars, ancient wonders and
It’s 50 years since peace, love and psychedelia burst out from the San Francisco underground into the mainstream, heralding 1967’s Summer of Love.
So pop The Grateful Dead on your headphones, stick on your finest floral shirt and make for these must-see sights in the one-time heartland of the hippies.
To understand how the hippies took over San Francisco, you need to go back to the 1950s and explore that other Californian cultural phenomenon, the Beats. The Beat Museum in North Beach is home to hundreds of original artefacts, including notebooks and photos from Jack Kerouac’s pioneering journeys across America that led to his seminal On The Road, a huge influence on the teenagers who would pioneer the hippie movement and be at the forefront of the Summer of Love.
It also looks at the influence of poet Allen Ginsberg, who linked the Beats and the hippies through his work and activism. The museum retains a chilled vibe very much in keeping with 1967, with old hippies selling tickets and sharing tales of the good old days.
City Lights was and is a totem of San Francisco’s countercultural movement. Founded by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, its leftfield selections and readings by local
Then: plane travel was considered a luxury, low-cost airlines had yet to take to the skies and, for many, family holidays were annual events bookended by seemingly never-ending drives, complete with squabbling siblings and ‘are we there yet?’ on repeat.
Now: thanks to a boom in affordable air travel, the modern child may take numerous trips each year, blending close-to-home camping expeditions or farm stays with urban adventures in the world’s ‘must-see’ cities such as London, Paris or New York.
What were once considered ‘trips of a lifetime’ are also more likely to be regular fixtures in childhood, with long-haul holidays spent zip-lining in Costa Rica, snorkelling off Thailand’s beautiful beaches or penguin-watching off the Cape in South Africa all boosting a young jet-setter’s memory bank.
We all sleep easier, family style
Then: the whole clan often crowded into one unappetising hotel room, slept top-to-toe in a cramped tent or descended upon some kindly old friend or distant relative who had once politely suggested ‘you should really come and stay some time’.
Now: hotels are generally far better prepared for families, offering adjoining rooms, cots and even babysitting services. There’s a whole range of luxury places created specifically for the family market – Cavallino Bianco
On my last day in Cuba, I stood on the impressive staircase at the University of Havana taking in my final views of an island I’d waited years to visit. By this point, I had walked along Havana’s famous Malecón, shared a bench with a bronze John Lennon, taken a ride across the country in ’52 Bel Air, celebrated Jose Martí’s birthday, followed a trail of mojito stands to a disco in a cave, learned salsa on a rooftop, and bought a bottle of (what turned out to be fake) rum.
While the rest of the world has always had Cuba at its fingertips, Americans are still adjusting to the fact that this terra incognita is now within reach. What I found when I arrived was a place altogether strange and familiar, a place whose unique cityscapes frequently graced the silver screen, whose spirit we had seen in the homes our Cuban American friends, but a place we’d only ever really heard about in the context of prohibition. You can’t go there. It’s illegal.
Despite Americans’ newfound excitement, Cuba has long been on the tourist trail of those looking for a travel destination without all the conventional trappings of the western hemisphere.
Rahba Kedima, also known as Spice Square, is the obvious place to head to for brash, bright and brilliant flavourings when in Marrakesh. The mixed spices for flavouring fish and meat are a must for adventurous cooks, while you can also snap up anise, mace and fresh cinnamon for a snip of the cost back home. If you want good saffron, don’t buy the ground stuff – ask to see the fresh strands. It can get pricey, so make sure you shop around before parting with your cash.
Try before you buy: take a break from the busy crowds at Café des Epices. The mint tea here is particularly good.
Long Bien Market, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi’s labyrinthine Old Quarter is home to a wide variety of spice stalls. But for something a lot more visceral, set your alarm for 4am and head to Long Bien Market on the banks of the Red River. This pre-dawn, wholesale spot is the place to buy the freshest mint, lemongrass, cinnamon, coriander and ginger. This is a working market, meaning tourists are few and far between, so be respectful when taking pictures.
Try before you buy: vendors selling steaming bowls of pho (noodle soup) are easy to find.
The truth is, solo traveling to another country as a woman is actually not as threatening as it may seem. While there are some countries where a woman traveling alone will certainly draw more attention, in general a willingness to respect local customs and a cautious awareness of your surroundings will see you through.
Sometimes, though, it’s easier not to worry about extreme culture differences. Sometimes you just want to have fun. In these ten destinations, it’s not uncommon to see women traveling alone, so you can feel free to relax without standing out.
This country in the west of the United Kingdom has an amazing landscape and an even more amazing cultural history. If you’re interested in the King Arthur mythology, you’ll find a number of important sites from those texts. If you’re into outdoor sports, try a solo hike on the Pembrokeshire coast. Cardiff, the capitol, also offers a number of theaters (including the famous Millennium Center), museums, sports arenas, and shopping centers.
Almost all of my trips to Canada have been solo journeys and I’ve always felt extremely safe. In Quebec, you’ll find a huge cinematic and television culture like the Festival of International Short Film, as well as the
Ready to take a road trip? This packing guide will help you prepare and double-check so you can hit the road with confidence.
Use duffle bags for most of your luggage—it’s easier to stack and squeeze soft bags into any car arrangement that you need. If you’re stopping overnight, pack one bag with sleep essentials and next-day clothes so it’s compact and ready to go. You can use a soft, wheeled suitcase for this if you have a lot of people. Finally, each person can keep a small bag — like a tote or backpack — next to their own seats for easily-accessible snacks and activities.
- We use this duffle bag on our road trips–it’s compact, has several pockets for easy organization, and it’s even slash-proof. This slightly larger duffle bag is great for longer trips or two people who like to keep it simple and share one bag.
- This insulated tote bag doubles as an ice chest and it folds up nicely when not in use.
- Daypacks are a must if you want to get out and hike during your journey. We use this small daypack which has an internal padded sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder.
Wear clothes that are loose and breathable, and
The adults-only, all inclusive resort is a smaller 130-suite exclusive area of the larger Grand Palladium Resort, but allows complete access to the full resort’s 5-star amenities.
The privacy and VIP treatment at The Royal Suites Yucatán by Palladium is all any peace-seeking adult could ask for on a vacation. With everything this resort includes — a private beach with Bali beds, first-class spa, exclusive bars and restaurants — it’s not hard to see why this is paradise on the Yucatán.
The rooms at The Royal Suites are quite literally “the height of luxury.” A private terrace with a jacuzzi soaking tub is standard in each room with the option to upgrade to the Mayan Suites, which are right on the water with lush, green terrace views. In these separate indoor/outdoor suites, the additional outdoor shower and hammock are an added bonus.
There is no shortage of dining options here, with 14 restaurants and buffets and a whopping 27 bars scattered throughout the grounds. Two of the restaurants and bars are exclusive to Royal Suites guests, which I recommend taking advantage of for the sake of comfort and convenience.
The a la carte Japanese restaurant is wonderful, but the outdoor ocean-side cabana restaurant really embraces the luxury beach resort
After over ten years of consistent travel, I’ve definitely learned my fair share of lessons. Like the time I was robbed on a train because I let my guard down or the time Scott and I showed up at the Bozeman Airport only to find that we no longer had a car rental.
Some of these travel mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You simply cannot plan for everything. However, keeping a few important things in mind will make your travels much easier.
We always plan for delays and try not to get upset when things inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling!
Make a List
About a week or so before each trip, I make a mental list of items I don’t want to forget — which I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. I’ve learned that when I think of something, I need to write it down.
Learn Common Phrases of the Local Language
A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. I also like to learn the word for beer, but that’s just me.
Don’t Forget an Extra Camera Battery (or Two)
Have you ever
Packed with ancient history, sophisticated cities, cultural treasures, fine food and even finer art, Europe has an embarrassment of riches and is a dream for all kinds of travellers. And with landscapes boasting rugged coastlines, rolling country fields and mighty mountains (to name but a few), this is a region that suits road-tripping down to a T.
These nine diverse and dynamic countries – all featured in our Europe’s Best Trips guide – represent some of the top spots to hit the road in Europe. Discover what makes them so special and kick your trip planning into gear with our recommended road trips.
Few countries can rival Italy’s wealth of riches. Its historic cities boast iconic monuments and masterpieces at every turn, its food is imitated the world over and its landscape is a majestic patchwork of snowcapped peaks, plunging coastlines, lakes and remote valleys. And with many thrilling roads to explore, it offers plenty of epic driving.
From Rome to Venice, this tour of Unesco World Heritage Sites takes in some of Italy’s greatest hits, including the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and some lesser-known treasures.
Iconic monuments, fabulous food, world-class wines – there are so many reasons to
Japanese cherry trees are the stars of spring in Washington, DC, when thousands of visitors flock to the Tidal Basin to stroll beneath billowy branches of pink and white blooms. But it’s not all about the cherries. Washingtonians have long prided themselves on their spring gardens, a tradition that stems back to colonial days, when homegrown fruits and vegetables – and a handful of decorative blooms for your windowsill – were a necessity of life. For those looking to soak in natural beauty without the crowds, here are some of Washington’s most inviting spring gardens.
Famous landscape architect Beatrix Farrand designed this botanical panorama in northern Georgetown. At Dumbarton Oaks, each sweet-smelling garden is more beautiful than the next. Be sure to check the website (www.doaks.org) before your visit to see what’s in bloom, but must-sees include the Orangery, where the climbing ficus dates from the 1860s; the rose garden, arranged by color; the Prunus Walk with its flowering plums; and the Pebble Garden, best viewed from the terrace above to take in the intricate, swirling neo-baroque designs of grey and white stones. It’s a shame that picnicking isn’t permitted on the grounds.
Did George Washington ever wander past the centuries-old Osage orange tree that dominates River Farm’s
Thinking of taking an adventure in the great outdoors? While specific gear will depend on climate, terrain, whether you’re car camping or backpacking, and your camp setup (e.g. tent or RV), these packing tips will help you cover all of the necessities — with specific recommendations on the gear we use on all of our camping trips.
Be sure to start compiling your own specific item list well ahead of time so you know you’ll have everything when the time comes!
Tent: If you’re packing a car, pack your tent last so it’s the first thing you’re able to set up. Double-check you have all your poles and stakes, a mallet, and your rain-fly (if applicable). We use this lightweight Marmot tent.
Sleeping Bags: Down or down-substitute sleeping bags are the lightest and easiest to compress.
Sleeping Pads: These Therm-a-Rest compact sleeping pads give you cushion and help radiate heat back to your body.
Tarp: An extra tarp for the tent’s floor will keep you warmer and dryer at night, and if you get one with some extra length, you can use it to wipe shoes off outside.
Clothesline: If there’s a chance you’ll get wet, bring an adjustable bungee clothesline and clothespins for