Of all the ways to travel — plane, train, bus, cruise ship and camel — a road trip is still the most elemental. They call it the "open" road for a very good reason.

In the post-war western world, automobiles brought freedom to everyday folk. Getting behind the wheel and exploring is the most proletarian of all travel options.

Today, we take for granted the freedom to turn off at any cross road. In that post-war world, it was America's interstate system — and the cheap oil their global hegemony secured — that really accelerated the spread of the road trip. Coast to coast. Canada to Mexico. Cadillac to diner. America remains the road trip's natural home.

I love driving. I'm a committed cyclist, puffing my way to work each morning, but nothing tops the magic of the open road. There is, of course, a big difference between commuting in Auckland traffic and driving on the open road.


Last year, I did a roadie from Westport to Auckland — just me and two kids under 6. That's around 15 hours of driving. We stopped at pretty much every toilet and every playground between Westport and Auckland. It was bliss.

My own dream US road trip — a red Mustang through California — follows some of Russell Baillie's tracks.