In the spirit of both getting back to nature and also thriftiness, a lot of campervan travellers in New Zealand like to freedom camp where they can- that is, stay somewhere that is not a designated campground and is free. The good news for them (reported by Stuff.co.nz) is that the Nelson City Council is considering relaxing its strict rules on freedom camping. Currently completely banned, the council is looking at ways to change the bylaw, allowing a bit more flexibility for campervans. Keep an eye out for updates on this, and soon you may be enjoying a cheap but very cheerful campervan road trip in sunny Nelson.
As in the rest of New Zealand, freedom camping will still be regulated with the aim of preserving New Zealand's environment. Freedom camping is an option only for self-contained vehicles.
Abel Tasman National Park
by brewbooks Flickr Creative Commons
Have a look here for great deals on New Zealand campervan hire!
The Parkway follows the route of the old Natchez Trace, a path used for centuries by the original inhabitants of the land. Later it was used by early European explorers. Parts of the Trace are still in existence and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trace mostly follows a geologic ridgeline, and before even the Native Americans used it, animals were taking advantage of the dry, high ground to move from Tennessee to the grazing lands south of the Mississippi.
Old Natchez Trace Remnants
by Chris M Norris Flickr Creative Commons
Nashville is a great spot to pick up a campervan rental, and also to listen to some country music- it is the country capital of the United States, and where Taylor Swift went to get a record deal. If you like country and western, stick around for a while and see what's on! To get to the Natchez Trace Parkway, head out of town on West End Ave/Highway 100 until the exit onto the Parkway appears. History buffs could also take a detour through Franklin, a southern suburb which was the site of a civil war battle in 1864.
Nashville at Night
by Kenton Forshee Flickr Creative Commons
Heading south towards the state border, the road passes through both wooded areas and the open spaces of Tenessee's horse and farm country. One of the only structures remaining from the original Trace lies along this stretch of the road- Gordon House, the house of John Gordon who was a ferry operator on the Duck River, helping people across to continue with their journey.
There is a short trek across Alabama before crossing into Mississippi. A quick detour off the Parkway here will take you to Florence, a port on the Tennessee River which is dammed near the city to form Pickwick Lake and Wilson Lake. There is a wide river crossing where the Parkway traverses, and on the southern bank you will find the Colbert Ferry Park, where George Colbert once offered a ferry service and inn to travellers.
The Parkway crosses the Tennessee River
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The road crosses into Mississippi not long before coming to Bay Springs Lake. This is a reservoir surrounded by various Recreation Areas, a great place to stop and enjoy. There is also a campground there, Piney Grove, which is an option for an overnight stop should you want one!
The Pharr mounds are another interesting historic point along this road. These 8 burial mounds date back to 1-200AD. These range in size and four of them were excavated by the National Park Service to reveal internal features including clay platforms and fire pits.
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The Trace passes through the fields of Mississippi where soybeans and cottons grow (sounding like a country song), and passes through Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis. This is another great option for an overnight stay, especially for those who love the King.
Near the end of the route is Jackson, state capital of Mississippi. There is a great live music scene here, focused on soul music like gospel, soul and RnB. After crossing the cultivated floodplain, passing Natchez State Park and traversing a forested ridge, the Parkway terminates at Natchez.
Mississippi State Capitol
by Ken Lund Flickr Creative Commons
The most convenient place to hire an RV for this trip is Nashville! Have a look here for great deals on USA RV rental.
Author: Phil Wright+
Newport is on Lake Memphremagog, not far from Canada's Montreal. There is a boardwalk on the waterfront and plenty of shops and cafes with beautiful scenery surrounding the city. Head out of town on VT105 to get to the beginning of VT 100 and head south!
by John Jewell Flickr Creative Commons
Wide open spaces abound between Newport and the small town of Lowell, after which the mountains come into view. More small towns are strung out along the road, as well as several small lakes and rivers. Just outside of Morrisville are the pretty Cadys Falls waterfall and swimming hole, and not long after that you will find Stowe, a particularly quaint village and four-season resort town. The white church and spire are the centerpiece of Stowe.
Stowe Town Hall
by Peter Broster Flickr Creative Commons
Continuing south, cross the Winooski River at Waterbury and after passing through Waitsfield the road runs along next to the Green Mountains. With a backdrop of peaks, the road runs through pasture and cornfields in a river valley. Pretty towns with british- sounding names are dotted along the route- Hancock, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield and Killington to name a few.
by dvs Flickr Creative Commons
The Green Mountain forests are a great place to stop for the night if you want to break up your trip. They are home to a number of campsites such as Chittendon Brook near Rochester, where you can get a bit closer to nature and enjoy the trails in the mountains. For something more civilised, try one of the townships.
Further down the New England feel continues as the road passes through West Bridgewater and Plymouth Notch and also skirts the Coolidge State Forest (named for Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the USA), which has plenty of hiking trails, campsites and mountain views. Further south are a number of tranquil lakes- Amherst Lake, Echo Lake and Lake Rescue, of which the latter is the largest and used extensively for watersports and recreation.
Birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, in Plymouth Notch
by Shannon Flickr Creative Commons
The rest of the drive is through green hills between Ludlow and Weston. Weston is a classic Vermont village with a great historical society and playhouse, as well as a bandstand on the green and the mandatory church steeple!
Winter in Weston
by redjar Flickr Creative Commons
Londonderry and South Londonderry straddle the West River further south, and then the road enters dense greenery once again in the southern part of the Green Mountan National Forest, and passes the imposing Haystack Mountain.
View from Haystack Mountain
by Chris Oakley Flickr Creative Commons
The route ends in Wilmington, a town not far above the border with Massachussets.
Great big-city pick up points at either end of this route are Boston and Montreal, both excellent starting points for road tripping in Vermont and the surrounding states!
Have a look here for great deals on RV Rental USA, and here for RV Rental Canada.
If you are heading north on the I-95 towards Canad, get off at MI28 and head towards Brimley. This town is located where the Waiska River flows into Whitefish Bay. It is home to a museum, a casino at the Bay Mills Indian reservation and a lighthouse, as well as a pretty waterfront.
from Brimley, head west on West Lakeshore Drive through birch, maple and oak forests. The Point Iriquois Light Station is not far from the town, and is a beautiful bit of architecture which is attached to a house serving as a museum. Also along this part of the coast is the beautiful Monocle Lake, great for fishing and all kinds of recreation. There is a campground at the lake which would make a lovely place to stop overnight.
Point Iroquois Light Station
by Andrew Horne Flickr Creative Commons
The road continues along the shoreline, passing Pendills Bay and Tahquamenon Bay. Lakeshore Drive becomes Lake Superior Shoreline Road, and then ends at White Fish Road. Turn right here to continue along the lake's shore and cross the Tahquamenon river. The Tahquamenon Falls State Park in this area is Michigan's second largest State Park. The centerpeice of the park is are the beautiful Falls and rapids, of which the waters are stained reddish brown with tannins. The best access to the Park is on MI123 from the small town of Paradise. This tourist town is the gateway to both the State Park and Whitefish Point.
by Dawn Endico Flickr Creative Commons
by Jean-Pierre Cauchon Flickr Creative Commons
Whitefish Point protrudes into the lake above Paradise, and there you will find another lighthouse for vessels navigating Lake Superior, and also a bird observatory amongst woods and lakes.
Chicago is a great pick up location for a road trip in this area, central to the lakes and to many different states. See here for great deals on RV Rental USA.
Author: Phil Wright+
In the world of motorhomes, VW is most famous for its Kombi vans, but they are no one-hit wonder. The video above reviews their new Doubleback van, a great addition to the world of small campervans which combines storage, living space and simple features into one amazing ride.
by indy_slug Flickr Creative Commons
The Doubleback has a pod at the back which slides out to double the size of the back of the van and therefore the living space! The extendable pod is sturdy and can hold up to 600 kilograms when the support is down. It includes a bed, and there is another that drops down in the main part of the cabin, where you will also find seating, a table and baic kitchen facilities. The front seats swivel to provide extra seating.
The only obvious drawback to the van is that it can only seat two belted in, or 3 if you request the double passenger seat, however it can sleep four. An extra seat with belt would not go astray! However, the Doubleback would be perfect for a couple who like some room to stretch out- just like their campervan.
To complete the loop in one day would take 5 hours, but many choose to spread it over 2 and take the time to enjoy the sights. Heading south on US550 for the first leg of the route, you will pass through Quray, a historic city established during the rush for gold and silver found in the mountains. This stretch of road, continuing right down to Durango, is a stunner. Passing waterfalls in the Uncompahgre Gorge and an array of mountains, it is a long but enjoyable drive, called the Million Dollar Highway.
by Ken Lund Flickr Creative Commons
The Red mountains are particularly noteworthy, with slopes streaked with red and orange gravel. After passing the small town of Silverton, the route passes through valleys in San Jaun National Forest, an expanse of wilderness covering nearly 2 million acres. The road eventually follows the Animas River valley to the city of Durango.
Durango is a great place to stop for the night if you are breaking up the trip. Famous for the spectacular narrow guage railway connecting it with Silverton, it was built as a railroad town. The Historic area of downtown Durango is a great place to spend some time, and you can take part in outdoor pursuits such as ziplining, rock climbing and rafting in and around the city.
by Bob Uhl Flickr Creative Commons
From Durango, the Skyway continues on US160 towards Cortez, but turns onto CO145 north to Dolores just before reaching the city. Along US160 you will pass Mesa Verde National Park, where the ruins of ancient Puebloan villages can be found. This park is a highlight of the route, with spectacular views from the Mesa. Cortez is another option for a nighttime stopover!
Ruins at the Mesa Verde National Park
by Doug Kerr Flickr Creative Commons
After Cortez, the route passes Dolores and follows the Dolores River back into the San Juan mountains. There are great vistas from the San Juan crest at over 3km above sea level. Trout Lake is a popular stop along this leg of the journey, and can be found close to CO154 before the turn-off to Telluride. The lake is not only beautiful with a backdrop of Colorado mountains, it is a great fishing spot.
by Frank Kovalchek Flickr Creative Commons
After the lake is the turn-off to Telluride. This lovely mountain town sits in a canyon with Bridal Veil Falls at the head of it, and it is connected by gondola to Mountain Village at the base of the winter ski area. Telluride's victorian Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is quite spectacular to see, especially in such an amazing setting.
by Christopher Bown Flickr Creative Commons
Bridal Veil Falls
by Paul Schultz Flickr Creative Commons
Back on the main road, the route follows the San Miguel River through a sandstone-cliff canyon to Placerville, and then back to Ridgway after a right turn onto CO62.
The major pick-up location for the San Juan Skyway and in fact all of Colorado is Denver, the state capital. Start booking your San Juan Skyway motorhome rental at Motorhome Road Trip.
Author: Phil Wright+
by InAweofGod'sCreation Flickr Creative Commons
The Parkway begins in Rockfish Gap, Virginia and runs to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. To drive the entire thing, It would likely take longer than 12 hours, so the best way tot ackle this beautiful road trip is to stop in one or two towns along the way for the night. You will pass through Roanoke near the beginning of the route, and Asheville near the end. Both of these are great places to stay if you like a bigger city feel, and if you are looking for a small-town spot to stay the night, try Blowing Rock, Boone or Black Mountain.
Blue Ridge Parkway
by jay8085 Flickr Creative Commons
The road passes through a lot of foliage, beginning right as you leave Rockfish Gap. Passing Rocky Mountain and the Shenandoah Valley, the Parkway crosses the James River and then climbs up to Virginia's highest point, Apple Orchard Mountain. All this before Roanoke! After you have traversed the city, The Rocky Knob Recreational Area is a great spot for hiking trails, and there is a campground where you can spend the night should you so wish.
After crossing the border, you will drive through Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Recreation Area as you continue along the ridge to Boone. Home of Appalachian State University, Boone is a playground for mountain activities in all 4 seasons. Further south, Asheville is a city rich in culture, great architecture and things to see and do. A favourite is Biltmore Estate, a stunning mansion which was once the home of the Vanderbilt family. After Asheville, the road maintains the scenic standard as it wonds along the Black Mountains and Great Craggy Mountains, passes the Glassmine Falls and reaches its highest point at Richland Balsam.
by Smart destinations Flickr Creative Commons
The end of the road comes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a huge park which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the USA's most visited National Park, and consists of ridge after ridge of spectacular forested mountains. The park has oportunitites for walking, driving, fishing, horseback riding and picnicking, and sightseeing, so plan to stay a while!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
by pfly Flickr Creative Commons
Although there is no major depot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, popular pick up locations for major motorhome rental suppliers are in Atlanta and Washington DC - depending on which end of the Parkway you wish to start. Start booking your Blue Ridge Parkway Motorhome Rental at Motorhome Roadtrip.
The sites will merge by the 1st of March 2013, after which you can head to motorhomeroadtrip.com for all 5 years worth of news, reviews and trip ideas which have been blogged here. It's been a hard job, blogging about the latest amazing vehicles, and dreaming of road trips to far away lands, but someone has had to do it- and long may it continue on the new site!
Here are a few of the posts which have appealed most to all of the nomads coming to campervanrental.org over the years:
- Best of Retro Travel Trailers, a look at some amazing old but lovingly refurbished caravan-style trailers.
- New Motorhome Design Concepts, about the up-and-coming techniques that will be used to optimise space and luxury.
- Groovy Motorhome Paint Jobs, exactly as it sounds.
- Innovative Design, a history of the beautiful Geographic travel trailer in the 1960s.
- Cool Campers and RVs, a rundown of the most different, amazing and interesting motorhomes on the road.
Head on over to Motorhome Road Trip and keep travelling!
The study involved participants driving 250 miles without music and 250 miles with it, as the company's MotorMate app recorded acceleration, braking, speed etc to determine how safely they were driving.
The results showed that music did indeed affect driving behaviour- with loud and upbeat music increasing erratic habits, speed and acceleration. Any music which increases heartbeat and arouses excitement is not a good choice, with heavy metal, hip hop and fast rock being some of the worst culprits.
So what should you listen to whilst in control of a motor vehicle? Songs which mimic the tempo of a human heartbeat are the best, with around 60-80 beats per minute. Easy listening style music, essentially.
Here is the top ten most dangerous songs list that confused.com came up with:
1. Hey Mama – The Black Eyed Peas
2. Dead on Arrival – Fall Out Boy
3. Paper Planes – M.I.A
4. Walkie Talkie Man – Steriogram
5. Paradise City - Guns N’ Roses
6. How You Remind Me – Nickelback
7. Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles
8. Get Rhythm – Johnny Cash
9. Heartless – Kanye West
10. Young, Wild and Free – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa (feat. Bruno Mars)
So as it turns out, 'Hit The Road, Jack' is not the best for hitting the road. For your next road trip, think about how your playlist might affect your safe driving behaviour!
So when booking an RV Rental, think twice about your playlist!
Author: Phil Wright+
Day 1: Sydney to Batemans Bay
Sydney is Australia's biggest city, a cosmopolitin world city which needs no introduction. The Harbour bridge and Opera House are landmarks known the world over, and Sydney offers many things to see and do, so have a good look around before leaving on your road trip along Highway One!
Just after leaving Sydney, you will come across the Royal National Park which has the title of second oldest purposed national park in the world, after the United States' Yellowstone. There are plenty of activities in the park, with cycling and walking trails and picnic areas throughout the park, a tram for the kids to ride, and lots of wildlife to see. There are surf beaches on the coast, and Audley is a popular spot to visit- a picnic area with dance hall, cafe and restrooms where you can hire boats and canoes.
Royal National Park
by Kyle Taylor Flickr Creative Commons
Around Lake Illawara further south, there is a built up area which includes Wollongong, Port Kembla and several other neighbourhoods. The are has 17 surf beaches, so if you are there in summer, the choices are endless! There is also a science centre and planetarium which makes a fascinating visit, and plenty of beachside shops, cafes and restaurants. Just south of here you will find Kiama and the Kiama blowhole.
by steve gibson Flickr Creative Commons
Further north are Bomaderry and Nowra on the Shoalhaven river- in Nowra is the Australian Museum of Flight. Continuing south you will hit many small towns and return to the coast at Ulladulla. Meaning 'safe harbour' in the native language, it is home to a lovely harbour and some popular largely undeveloped beaches.
The rest of the way to Bateman's Bay is through a lot of state forests. The town is small, with some lovely beaches to swim at during summer, and lots of craft shops and markets in the nearby villages. There are several holiday parks to park up for the night.
by eGuide Travel Flickr Creative Commons
Day 2: Bateman's Bay to Cape Conran
This day's travel at 381 kilometres will take you across the border into the state of Victoria. One of the first towns is Moruya, a lovely and friendly town on a river with great saturday morning markets and a museum with exhibits about the pioneer settlers in the area.
Next along the route is Tuross Lake and just off the highway, the township of Tuross Head. Surrounded by the ocean and two lakes, this is the spot for any type of water sport! The lakes provide great quiet waters for those travelling with kids, and there is a magnificent surf beach on the ocean coast. As you continue south, you can stay on H1 or take the coastal route along Wallaga Lake Road/Tathra Bermagui Road/Sapphire Coast Drive. The coastal option will take you past the many lakes in the area and rejoins with the Highway at Pambula, just after Merimbula. Merimbula has many things to do, including a theme park, wildlife sanctuary and a boardwalk around the lake so plan to stop there if you come this way!
by Percita Flickr Creative Commons
Ben Boyd National Park south of Pambula is home to a heritage lighthouse and aboriginal middens, as well as some stunning scenery both on the coast and inland. The rest of the drive to Cape Conran Coastal Park is through more state forests and across the border.
Cape Conran is just off Highway One along Sydenham Inlet Road. This Coastal Park is 11,700 hectares of coastal wilderness, and there are camping sites available so you can spend the night and enjoy the many activities and sights.
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons
Day 3: Cape Conran to Melbourne
Head west out of Cape Conran on Highway One towards Melbourne.The drive will take you past the pretty Lake Tyers State Park and into Bairnsdale, a town in an area full of coastal lakes called Gippsland- Lake King, Lake Victoria, Lake Wellington and more.
by Phil Whitehouse Flickr Creative Commons
Further along the highway is the city of Sale, also near the Lakes area. As Melbourne approaches, the towns and commuter suburbs come thick and fast. Morwell, Moe, Warragul and then the city.
Melbourne is Australia's cultural capital, with lots to see, do and experience. To get a feel for the city, walk the riverbank in the central city and visit the iconic Flinders Street railway station. Park your campervan in a holiday park for a night or a few nights to have time to explore the laid-back and interesting city that is Melbourne!
Have a look here for great deals on campervan hire in Sydney!
Author: Doug Brown+