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Inspiring one-way road trips that tick all the boxes

As the world slowly starts resuming travel, it’s clear that some preferences have changed when it comes to how we want to travel. Research from Booking.com shows that 40%* of Kiwi travellers are more eager to see the world once COVID-19 related travel restrictions are lifted than they were in 2019. And 47%* are looking to stray off the beaten path and savour some truly rural experiences.

As to how we’ll do that, half of us (47%)* are thinking of renting a car, which you can also do through Booking.com, when travelling, to avoid the crowds on public transport.

When it comes to road tripping, one-way car rentals allow for the traveller to plan their journey without the back-and-forth. Why spend half the journey doubling back when you can simply pick up the car at point A, and drop it off at point B? Booking.com is sharing four spectacularly different journeys in four corners of the world when our travel bubbles start to stretch even further.

South Africa: Cape Town to Johannesburg, 1,400 km, 15 hours of driving

Inland or along the coast, there’s no right or wrong choice. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, South Africa offers eight World Heritage Sites, 21 National Parks, a vast array of vineyards and some world-famous wildlife. For those after adventure, this is the right place: it would be criminal to visit just one part of a country with half a million square miles to see.

Start out from Cape Town and head towards the wine region of Stellenbosch. Not far from here is Graaff Reinet, a quaint town full of history, offering an amazing sense of perspective from the top of the Valley of Desolation, not to mention phenomenal panoramas across desert-like landscapes. Stay at the Drotsdy Hotel, a unique retreat in a superbly convenient location. Then make your way to iSimangaliso Wetland Park on South Africa’s east coast and check out the coral reefs.

Finish up at Johannesburg, the country’s second-largest city. It’s a vibrant metropolis with plenty of opportunities to explore the past, from Constitution Hill to the Apartheid Museum and the South African National Museum of Military History.

New Zealand: South to North Island - Queenstown to Auckland, 1,545 km, 22 hours of driving

Whichever route you decide to take, you’ll only ever be a couple of hours from the coast. As we all know, New Zealand is renowned for the pristine natural beauty of its often-rugged countryside. Rare birds, white-water rivers, magnificent mountains – our country has something for everyone.

Begin in Queenstown in the South Island and head north to reach Wanaka: the hub of skiing and snowboarding, paving the way to New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Travelling north through the west coast’s temperate rainforest are some of the world’s most spectacular glaciers (Fox and Franz Josef) in Westland National Park. Next up is Abel Tasman National Park, right at the north end of the South Island. To access the beaches, visitors will have to park and either hike or go by boat. Here, there’s a wealth of outdoor activities to choose from, including canyoning, sailing and kayaking. Either stay in the park grounds or head to nearby Kaiteriteri, and relax at the Kimi Ora Eco Resort, taking advantage of the spas, saunas, pools and more.

Crossing to the North Island, progress towards Rotorua. An outdoor person's paradise, it offers geothermals, mountain biking and river-rafting opportunities, perfect for the 66% of Kiwi travellers who have a newfound appreciation of life’s more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors.

Note: When crossing from North Island to South Island or vice versa, travellers will need to leave their rental car behind and pick up another one when leaving the ferry.

Ireland: The Atlantic Way - Malin Head in the North to Kinsale in the South, 2,575 km, 50 hours of driving

The route along Ireland’s west coast delivers glorious views aplenty, with unadulterated and raw landscapes overlooking the wild Atlantic ocean. This trip weaves its way through seven Irish counties, each one full of beauty and rich with history and culture.

Start in the north at Malin Head and there’s nothing between you and the Arctic but miles and miles of ocean. Get the timing right and you might even see the Northern Lights. Nearby Fanad Lighthouse was built in 1817 and is still working today. Then there’s Strandhill, a coastal village on the Surf Coast, boasting soaring cliffs and hidden beaches, where visitors can learn to surf or ride a horse. Just seven miles away is Sligo (famous for its seaweed), where road-trippers can stay at the Down Yonder Boutique B&B.

Halfway along the journey is County Clare, known for its vibrant music scene. Check out the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most visited sites, serving up breathtaking views of the Aran Islands. Finally, why not visit the bastion of the Irish language that is Dingle Peninsula, where Gaelic is widely spoken at home and in schools. Immersing yourself in traditional Irish culture, checking out the prehistoric sites and abandoned hamlets, what better way to end a trip to the Emerald Isle?

US: The Great River Road - Lake Itasca in Minnesota to Louisiana, 3,330 km, 36 hours of driving

Start in the Upper Midwest and head all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Following the course of the mighty Mississippi, the Great River Road passes through ten US states in total. Visit small riverside towns and experience bustling cosmopolitan cities whilst soaking up the history and culture of the native inhabitants and European settlers. It’s hard to get lost, just look out for the signs: a green pilot wheel with a steamboat.

Begin in Minnesota, the land of lakes and the home of the world-famous artist formerly known as Prince. Don’t forget to check out Lake Itasca and its beautiful pine forest, replete with opportunities for hiking and biking. Then on to Iowa, where travellers can take a trip on an iconic paddle wheel boat - and maybe see a bald eagle or two.

In Missouri, take some time to explore Hannibal, where Mark Twain spent his formative years. Next is Memphis, famous for the blues, for Elvis, and for its more than 100 BBQ restaurants.

Finally, the journey comes to a close in New Orleans, whose French market dates back to 1791. Music. Food. Architecture. Mardi Gras. With so much to see, why not treat yourself to a stylish warehouse apartment and explore the Big Easy at your own pace?

One-way road trips are all about spontaneity - and with 60,000 pick-up locations worldwide, Booking.com gets travellers on the road wherever they’re going. Lots of companies charge ‘one-way fees’, which is one more reason to book through Booking.com, who makes it easier for travellers to find the best deal with the lowest fee (or in many cases, no fee at all).

Booking.com is also offering Getaway Deals for travellers to use when booking their spring and summer 2021 getaways. Discounts start at 20 percent and are valid for stays until 30 September 2021.

*Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who have traveled for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and must be planning to travel in the next 12 months (if/once travel restrictions are lifted). In total 20,934 respondents across 28 countries and territories were polled (including 999 from USA, 496 from Canada, 497 from Mexico, 997 from Colombia, 999 from Brazil, 499 from Argentina, 995 from Australia, 499 from New Zealand, 999 from Spain, 996 from Italy, 996 from France, 999 from UK, 996 from Germany, 498 from Netherlands, 499 from Denmark, 499 from Sweden, 498 from Croatia, 1001 from Russia, 498 from Israel, 997 from India, 994 from China, 499 from Hong Kong, 497 from Thailand, 496 from Singapore, 499 from Taiwan, 997 from South Korea, 500 from Vietnam and 995 from Japan). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2020.