Many of these epic historical and cultural routes have shaped the world as we know it. But it seems that more and more they are becoming forgotten destinations. Whether you’re exploring the ghost towns of Route 66 or rolling along the tracks from Russia to China on the Trans-Siberian Express, embark on one of the world’s most interesting journeys for the overland adventure of a lifetime and rediscover these ageless explorations.
Find out what happened to Route 66
In the history of the United States, no road symbolizes the American dream quite like Route 66. Starting in the 1920s when entrepreneurs Cyrus Avery and John Woodruff envisioned a highway that would connect America from the east to the west socially and economically. The highway would change the very fabric of the country by creating opportunities for industry and business. It would also connect small rural and urban towns to a major road. That was life-changing for them at that time.
Route 66, also known as the Mother Road and the Main Street of America, spanned 2448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles and passed through eight states and three different time zones. The 1950s were a prime time for this famous route! Everyone was buying up cars and hitting the road dreaming of an adventure! In 1956 the Interstate Highway Act was signed. With the stroke of a pen so began the decline of one of the most famous roads. By the mid-1980s, Route 66 was decommissioned, and even as the locally run outlets along the famous road began to disappear, the legend of the highway persisted.
Over the decades this highway has been the star in many novels, films, songs, and other popular culture. Only adding to this historic highway’s legend. Portions of what’s left of America’s Mother Road through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona are acknowledged as the Historic Route 66 by National Scenic Byway, allowing for it to be returned to some maps and live on.
Today, you can drive through most of the original route and learn about what happened to it. Discover the tiny towns, motels, and attractions scattered along the way, many of them frozen in time, as though they were waiting for someone to wake them again.
- Discover the modern Hippie Trail
Once upon a time voyagers who shaped so much of modern tourism, traveled across the region from the west to the east in a bid to enlighten themselves, immerse in cultures, score some marijuana and have a good time! This was before conflict threw the Middle East and parts of South Asia into turmoil, of course.
The Hippie Trail is a famous adventure path used from the mid-1950s to 1970s where spirited individuals took the cheapest forms of transportation across Europe and Asia. They would hop on board buses and trains or hitchhike from London or Amsterdam and head off for destinations like Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and India.
During its peak from the 1950s-1970s, visitors would cram into important hubs. Travelers from other parts of the world reveling in the lifestyle associated with this journey, spirituality, and a good time. It was seen as an alternative form of tourism and allowed travelers to connect with locals instead of just sightseeing.
In the 1970s, political tension and security issues led to a decline in the route. It is likely not possible to travel the entire 5500-kilometer (3420-mile) Hippie Trail today. However, there’s been somewhat of a revival of certain parts of the route! Along the route, there have even been some commercial trips popping up. Traveling through Europe and Asia to bypass conflict zones you can almost step back in time. Many iconic spots from the Hippie Trail are still around today, for example, Yener’s Café or Istanbul’s Pudding Shop, Amir Kabir Hotel in Tehran, and Freak Street in Kathmandu. Look for tours that connect England with other parts of Europe from where you can head to Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Nepal.
- Drive the Silk Road
To say the Silk Route is woven into the fabric of our world would be an understatement, this complex network of highways and roads, of at least 6437 kilometers (4000 miles) spans across more than 40 countries. Named after the traders who would carry Chinese silk along with other goods across seemingly countless roads that make up the Silk Route. This is a piece of history impossible to ignore.
The role this road played in the development of our world is immeasurable, historically, socially, and culturally. The Silk Route is without a doubt, one of the most incredible and interesting journeys any modern-day explorer can go on.
You’ll find yourself discovering history the length of the world from one end of the Silk Route to the other. Remnants of lost dynasties, old-world architecture, captivating cities, and natural wonders. The only way to take on an adventure as extraordinary as the Silk Route is by land A journey that will carry you across the destinations of this sprawling network.
- Backpack the Gringo Trail
Unlike the Hippie Trail, the Gringo trail is not an official route. The distance of the trail varies because of that. But when it comes to interesting journeys with cultural diversity and scenic views the Gringo Trail is a shoo-in. This path brings you exploring the length of almost all of Latin America, minus Brazil. Most travelers focus on South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile), Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, and Panama) or Mexico.
To explore the Gringo Trail authentically, fly into one of the many offbeat cities and choose one direction and one choice of transport. Bear in mind that there is no overland option between Mexico and Central America and South America.
- Explore along the Banana Pancake Trail
This trail is more of an idea than it is an actual route. The Banana Pancake Trail is a cute moniker given to the destinations in Asia that low-budget travelers and backpackers flock to. Despite not being an official route, the Banana Pancake Trail is an amazing experience akin to the Gringo Trail or Hippie Trail. It encompasses several different routes the backpackers and tourists can take around Asia.
The Banana Pancake Trail is famous for backpackers.
The essential countries you travel on this trail are Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. One of the most popular routes through South Asia starts in Bangkok, from where travelers go to Ho Chi Minh City via Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. But other popular destinations such as Nepal (Pokhara, Everest Base Camp), India (Goa), Indonesia (Bali), the Philippines, Myanmar, and even parts of China are now considered part of the Banana Pancake Trail
While the Banana Pancake Trail has not impacted history as such, as travel to the regions on the trail continues to flourish, tourism will have cultural and social implications. You can already witness this watching the infrastructural boom happening along the trail.
- Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway
Built between 1891 and 1916, the Trans-Siberian Railway is a colossal feat in engineering and vision. Connecting Moscow with Russia Far East, and network offshoots into Mongolia, China, and North Korea, the Trans-Siberian Railway spans 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles), making it the longest railway in the world.
Onboard, travelers will travel overland from Moscow to Vladivostok in Siberia and have an opportunity to explore remote parts of Russia, as well as Mongolia and China. While the overland adventure can be completed in seven days, the best way to do the journey is by hopping on and off at numerous stops the train makes and staying on to explore before continuing to China.