We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But too often, people think this rule of math should be an operating principle for travel as well. Point A to Point B. Get there as fast as you can. Run, don’t walk. It’s the type of thinking that makes it all about the destination, not the journey, which is the very opposite of experiential travel. This thinking can easily suck all the fun out of a road trip.
So let’s rethink how we approach travel and rediscover the freedom of the open road. Take your vehicle and go where you want, stop when you want, and most importantly, slow down to truly appreciate the journey.
This is the philosophy that motivated us in crafting our new vacation packages to the United States and Canada. Back in 1970, Goway started its travel journey by planning trips for 20-somethings across North America. Now, in 2023, Goway returns to its roots with self-drive packages and customized vacations that allow globetrotters who have been unable to travel during the pandemic to reignite a love of travel experiencing the natural wonders and cultural marvels closer to home.
The United States and Canada are big countries. Canadians love to point out they live in the second biggest nation in the world by landmass. The USA is also as big, but with even more geographical diversity. Criss-crossing this massive landmass are over two million roads, connecting the East and West Coast, but, more crucially, offering globetrotters a variety of spectacular scenic highways and byways to explore.
There are bucket list road trips, including Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the Cabot Trail through Nova Scotia, and Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. The good news is that they are all available as pre-planned self-drive itineraries with Goway. A Taste of the Maritimes includes the Cabot Trail, Historic Route 66 takes travellers all the way from the Windy City to Santa Monica, and Postcards of California takes you down Highway 1, while also including fabulous Yosemite. These are just three samples of many that take out the research from your vacation planning and allow you to simply follow the map and enjoy your road trip.
You can also build a trip from scratch and go beyond typical route planning, paying attention to possible detours and creating a more enjoyable experience by slowing things down. You can stretch a 3-day road trip that tries to carve the straightest line across the country into a more leisurely 5 to 7-day trip. You can also start off for a few nights in one of your favourite cities before continuing the journey with some unique side trips and excursions. Take Nashville for instance. It’s a popular road trip for people in the Northwest who want to experience the capital of country western music. But unless you consider some stops along the way you are seriously missing out on something special.
Say you’re driving from New York. First stop along the 95 is Washington, DC, where you can catch up on American history. A stretch of stunning scenery follows by travelling through the Shenandoah Valley, where chestnut trees spread out across the rocky landscape, with possible stops at delightful Charlottesville (a good place to spend the night) or Appomattox, where the Civil War ended. Turning on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you now enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in the US. Ideally, spend the night in North Carolina’s vibrant city of Asheville. En route to Nashville are the Great Smoky Mountains, which you couldn’t possibly ignore. Once in Nashville, hop on over to Chattanooga to see the Tennessee Valley Railroad. If you love music, you might as well add a few more days and continue to Memphis. Heck, take Highway 55 south and cap the journey off in New Orleans for that matter.
A seemingly straightforward journey from New York to Nashville can easily unlock a treasure trove of fascinating history, nature, and culture around every turn in the road. You can also consider a pre-planned trip, such as Rhythms of the River, which takes you all the way from Chicago to New Orleans, via Nashville. Slow down, appreciate the drive, and explore the United States and Canada with Goway.
Rethink the North American Road Trip with Our Expert Suggestions
To help you start planning your own great North American road trip, we’re offering expert insight on how to transform a visit to some of the most appealing cities across the United States and Canada into an unforgettable road trip.
New York City
There’s a lot to do in the Big Apple at all hours of the day, but you’ll also find so much to experience within a few hours’ drive. Drive upstate for three hours to reach the Catskills, famous summer getaway for New York’s upper classes, or overnight in the picturesque Finger Lakes. If you want to turn this into a longer trip, drive on to Rochester and Niagara Falls. If you prefer coastal driving, then Boston is about four hours away from NYC and you can stop off in New Haven and Mystic in Connecticut along the way. Once in Boston, Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard are essential extensions to your trip. Alternatively, options outside New York also include the classic combo of Philadelphia and Washington, which offers a lot more than a history lesson. Consider Wine, Water & Wonders of Upstate New York, Colonial America, or New England Explorer for pre-planned itineraries incorporating many of these cities and landmarks.
Canada’s capital for country western music is a comfortable urban centre in its own right, but it’s also the best gateway to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A two hour drive into the mountains takes you to Banff, the mountain resort town close to breathtaking Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Drive north for four hours to reach Jasper, the other most popular mountain resort town, stopping at the Athabasca Icefields en route. You can connect back to Calgary via Edmonton, taking in the Albertan capital. Away from the mountains, take a cultural detour 90 minutes north to Sundre to experience Canada’s Wild West or head 90 minutes southeast to Vulcan, a must if you’re a Trekkie. Drumheller also lies 90 minutes west in the Badlands and is a haven for dinosaur enthusiasts with dig sites and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Goway offers a wide selection of pre-planned itineraries from Calgary into the Rocky Mountains. You can choose from eight itineraries, ranging from 8 to 16 days, several of which end in wonderful Vancouver.
Experience the mountain air of the Mile High City and visit some attractive mountain towns and natural landmarks all within a day’s drive. Start with a 45-minute drive to Boulder, an underrated spot for food and craft brews, or, instead, head south to the Garden of the Gods outside Colorado Springs to see the magical red rocks against the fading sunlight. If it’s winter, get in some skiing in Breckenridge two hours to the west of Denver or add another two hours to reach Aspen, arguably the country’s most famous ski getaway. Enjoy driving the nation’s highest paved roads in Rocky Mountain National Park or explore Ridgeway State Park via Colorado Springs. Drive along Million Dollar Highway, which boasts jaw-dropping vistas, and reach Durango, the famous Western town, via Ouray and Silverton, or go all out and experience the mountains give way to sparse desert by continuing another four hours from Durango to Santa Fe in New Mexico. Denver, Durango, and Santa Fe are all a part of our American Grandeurs pre-planned self-drive, which also includes Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon among other scenic delights.
The Bay area is famous for its urban delights, but it doesn’t take much time to add on some of the nation’s most spectacular natural settings. If you’re sticking close to home, drive 45 minutes to Sausalito to enjoy a laid back day at art galleries and dining in farm-to-table restaurants or drive an hour to San Jose to experience the tech headquarters of Silicon Valley. Get some wine tastings within two hours in Napa and Sonoma—just be sure to have a designated driver. For natural sights, head east for four hours to Yosemite National Park and be sure to spend at least a night amongst the famous peaks and trees. You can return by the coast at Monterey or Carmel-By-The-Sea, which offers your chance to follow the magnificent Pacific Highway 1 to Los Angeles. Goway’s Postcards of California offers a ready-made version of this trip. Time permitting, spend some time in the City of Angels before continuing through breathtaking Death Valley and cap off the trip in Las Vegas.
This article was original published in Vol. 29 of Globetrotting Magazine.
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