As a filmmaker I’ve always dreamt about the Great American Road Trip. I’ve seen Route 66 so many times in the movies, and have always thought about the open road, and that sense of freedom and adventure as I pass through cities, national parks and mountain towns. But nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. The things I saw, the people I met, the food I ate and the experiences I encountered on my Grand Southern Contiki adventure will stick with me forever. Doing this road trip with Contiki made me realise what all the fuss is about. Here’s why I think their version of the Great American Road Trip can’t be beat.
The locals and the culture
Memphis and New Orleans really blew me away. Everywhere I went felt like a local hotspot, not a tourist hotspot, they were just so authentic and real. I’ll never forget the 10 piece brass band that hijacked the street corner off Frenchman street one evening – even the cops turned a blind eye the masses who poured onto the road to enjoy the music. And the locals I met were just so charismatic and fun to be around.
The Grand Canyon
We got included entrance into Grand Canyon National Park and it was just phenomenal. Places like this make the great American road trip one of a kind. Keen hikers and sunset/sunrise chasers will fill up their adventure cups real easy. The helicopter ride gave us some insight into its enormity but the true beauty of it is smelling the white sage that’s littered around the trailheads. Get out and do a hike or go for a bike ride, it’s just a pleasant part of the world to soak up.
Not having to plan a thing
Not having to plan a thing is a real treat. Sure, you can hire a car and drive around the US with your mates, but then you have to worry about who’s the designated driver, where you’re going to sleep, when you’ll arrive at your next destination, where to eat, what to do there…Rolling into a new city with an itinerary in hand and a trip manager that is full of good suggestions is all part of the Contiki charm and let us all focus on the best bits of America.
Strangers who become your family
I think what really made my trip special is having 40 other strangers who became my family. There’s not a lot that beats rolling into a jazz bar in New Orleans on a Tuesday night & singing along to the Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ with 40 other people. It’s pretty fun, if you haven’t given it a go, you should try it sometime….
Having someone else to take my picture for a change!
It was nice having lots of people willing to take my picture for a change, as I’m usually the one behind the camera! But seriously, having Ben & Matt made my time on the trip but the rest of the group was really great, there was a travel buddy for everyone and being able to see a familiar face when you’re out exploring or having a beer or even having a doubles pair to play pool against was super rad.