Road trips are a national institution in the USA and a great way for foreign visitors to explore the country. The ultimate US road trip has to be Route 66, one of the most famous driving routes in the world. This historic byway traverses the country all the way from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California on the west coast. Eager as you’ll be to head out on to the open road, you should always sleep well before getting behind the wheel. There are plenty of hotels in Chicago where you can get some rest, then it’s keys in the ignition and away you go, traveling through a series of US states including Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
For lovers of Americana Route 66 is the ultimate experience. Diners, motels and gas stations decorate the roadside, seemly frozen in the 1950s, and classic small towns appear on the horizon after miles of open road. A myriad of weird and wonderful roadside attractions also await you, from a huge blue whale basking in a pond to a tree filled with shoes. Not to mention the series of upended and crazily painted cars at the Cadillac Ranch.
The route also winds through some of the most famous landscapes in the States, including the cowboy towns of the Wild West and prairies of Kansas. The route isn’t short on stunning natural landscapes either. Highlights include the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park and Mojave Desert.
History and Culture
The route also has plenty to offer when it comes to exploring American history and culture. Known as the ‘mother road,’ 66 is an important part of US history as well as being ingrained in popular culture. On your trip you’ll encounter farmers and cowboys and have the opportunity to learn more about Native American culture. Further west you can learn about outlaws and fortune seekers in the gold rush towns.
Planning your Trip
Asian and other international visitors will need to be in possession of an International Driving Permit to take a road trip in the US. You need to apply for this in your home country and have both paper and cards parts with you to hire a car. Different states have different driving rules, so make sure you’re familiar with these before you set off.
Hiring a Car
Whether you want to go for something modest and economic or a classic vintage vehicle, it’s possible to rent a variety of cars to drive route 66. Because this is a popular route many companies allow you to pick up a car in Chicago and drop it in off in California at the end of your trip. Remember you’re going to be travelling in the vehicle for around three weeks, so you want something comfortable and weather proof. Route 66 has to be one of the best ways to experience ‘real’ America, both past and present. Is this a road trip that you would consider undertaking? And what would be your wheels of choice to do it in?