Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
The birth of the Great American road trip 100 years ago
For about two weeks every summer between 1914 and 1924, a group of American friends who called themselves the Four Vagabonds would climb in their Model Ts and hit the open road, travelling to some of the United States’ most scenic areas, stopping off and setting up overnight camps along the way.
But these weren’t your average Americans. They were none other than Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs. And the motorcade of up to 50 vehicles, which transported the celebrity Vagabonds, sometimes their wives, their household staff, and all the equipment they could possibly need for a comfortable holiday, was captured by Ford Motor Company photographers.
These high profile ‘glamping’ adventures undertaken by pre-eminent members of society fired the imagination of the American public. And the phenomenon of roadtripping as an affordable way for ordinary families to satisfy their wanderlust soon spread to other parts of the world, including South Africa.
Roadtripping in SA today
With almost 750,000km of roads criss-crossing SA – the tenth largest road network globally according to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), and by far the largest on the continent – it’s no wonder roadtripping has become such a popular way for generations of South Africans to vacation, or visit relatives and friends in other parts of the country.
Use the unique opportunity of a road trip to discover and explore places of natural beauty, as a chance to learn more about the geological and cultural history of places you haven’t been before.
Whilst planning your route, look up the tourist attractions you’ll be passing along the way, and incorporate the most appealing ones into your itinerary. Many of the newly constructed hotels of yesteryear are still in business as historic B&B tourism destinations today, and breaking up long trips into smaller chunks – with one or two overnight stays en route to your destination, interspersed with some sightseeing – not only reduces driving fatigue and back seat boredom, but makes for a much more enjoyable and memorable holiday.