Get back to nature with a European road trip
Head of Wanderlust at Camptoo, Ed Bassett, shares the best places to disconnect and enjoy the sun, sea, mountains and forests
Whether you’re a sun-seeker, keen surfer or all-round adventurer, a road trip is the perfect way to pack in as many natural sights as possible whilst disconnecting, escaping the crowds and reconnecting with our natural surroundings.
Ed Bassett, Head of Wanderlust at Camptoo says, “Offering some of the most outstanding natural wonders in the world, a European a road trip caters to all tastes, whether you’re after a mountainous adventure, a surfing trip or a beach break.
“As life resumes to its pre-pandemic busyness, we find ourselves back in the ‘always on’ mindset, with the pressures of everyday life often overwhelming us. Heading out on a road trip is a great way to instil some calm into our hectic modern lives.
“Spending more time in the great outdoors, disconnecting from tech and reconnecting with nature helps us mentally decompress resulting in reduced feelings of stress and anger, improved mood, self-esteem and confidence as well improved physical health, as well as the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones.
“With so many benefits to enjoying a road trip and the ample opportunities it affords to reconnect with nature, the only question is ‘Where are you headed?’”
Below, Ed shares his top destinations for getting back into nature…
For sunshine and blue skies head to the Algarve
Famed for its sun-bleached towering cliffs, turquoise waters, 150 beaches and 300 days of sunshine per year, the Algarve in Portugal provides a beautiful, scenic road trip for sunseekers and those wanting to top up those all-important vitamin-D levels.
For a 6-day road trip, consider flying into Lisbon and driving three hours South. Begin in the charming village of Sagres, and then head east to Lagos – known for its picturesque beaches – before concluding your trip at Tavira on the Spanish border. On your route, expect to stumble upon a number of charming fishing villages, where you can enjoy the freshest seafood found on the Southern coast.
Be mindful of electronic toll roads, as Portugal has a wholly electronic system that records payments for toll roads. If you’re travelling with a foreign licence plate vehicle, you can purchase and activate a prepaid toll card, or purchase pre-defined journeys online.
For a forest adventure head to the Black Forest in Germany
A densely populated woodland sprawling some 2,320 miles, the Black Forest in Germany is the inspiration behind the fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm, and provides an awe-inspiring backdrop to your European road trip.
Allow yourself a week for ample time to explore the dense woodland, travelling along the Black Forest high road which begins in the charming spa town of Baden-Baden and ends in Freudenstadt, near the Swiss border in the South. This route for magnificent views of the Rhine Valley, Lake Mummelsee and the Lothar path on your route.
And don’t forget to enjoy some forest bathing along your route. Originating from the Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, forest bathing is a process that simply entails being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing the natural environment around you whilst breathing deeply, in order to help you de-stress, boost energy levels and improve wellbeing.
For crystal blue waters visit Croatia
With an azure Adriatic coastline to rival some of the best waters in Europe, Croatia offers 1100 miles of coastline to be explored with a seaside road trip. For the best views, follow the Adriatic Highway, which fringes the entire Croatian shoreline.
Did you know that being on or near water has both mental and physical health benefits? Coined ‘the blue mind’, being near water allows our brains to enter a meditative state, increasing our brain function to be more mindful, imaginative and creative. It’s essentially the antidote to what we refer to as the ‘red mind’ – the anxious, over-stimulated state which we are usually forced to function in thanks to the stresses of every day modern life.
So, allow yourself 6-days to explore the Dalmatian Coast between Split and Dubrovonik, where you’ll enjoy breath-taking views of the glittering waters of the Adriatic, and will be able to park up and enjoy a refreshing dip whenever and wherever you choose.
Head to the Alps for a mountain escape
The highest and most extensive mountain range found in Europe, the Alps offers the road trip of a lifetime all year round. Completed in 7-days, the Alpine Grand Tour will take you through 4 countries, enjoying a smorgasbord of natural wonders along the way, including towering glaciers, cobalt lakes and thundering waterfalls. Many ski resorts open all year round and are full of cycle routes, lakes and hiking routes.
For those considering taking a trip during the winter, it’s always good to be mindful of extreme weather conditions affecting the duration of your journey. Roads can get narrow, wet and icy, meaning a two-hour drive can easily double into four or more. Some of the higher routes may also be shut during the winter period due to heavy snowfall, therefore its best to travel this route between May and November.
Whenever and wherever you choose to travel, allow yourself this time to fully disconnect from the fast pace of day-to-day life.
It’s important to step away from tech and the everyday stresses of work, instead take the opportunity to enjoy living more mindfully, and immersing yourself with the natural beauty of your surrounds.