Vehicle finance company Moneybarn has released an intriguing automotive study. Compiling information from websites, tallying scores from seven criteria and adding a mathematical formula for “normalization values” it’s determined the world’s best road trips.
Headquartered in Petersfield, England, the company named the 95-mile drive from San Francisco to Healdsburg as the world’s fifth-best trek. It’s among the journeys Moneybarn calls “50 Unbeatable Road Trips.”
Designated as “Through Napa Valley,” the trip begins in San Francisco and advances to Napa via Vallejo. It progresses through more than a dozen communities including Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Calistoga and Healdsburg.
The wine country region is listed just below some lofty geographic company among trips in 32 countries. Rankings are based fuel costs, availability and price of rental RVs, food costs, tourism safety, road safety, quality of national parks and points of interest per mile.
Cairns to Cape Tribulation (Australia), a 68-mile coast journey from the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef through two national parks and a timber reserves received top honors. The Atlanta Highway in England, Canada’s Icefield Parkway and the Nordic Coast in Sweden also finished ahead of the drive into the Napa Valley.
The comprehensive survey relied on diverse sources. Camperscanncer.com was used to determine the cost of a one-week rental of a standard campervan (a generic term for RV used in England). The rental cost is further defined with a pick-up from the nearest point of the start of each route to a drop off location closest to the end of the route.
Tourism safety and security scored were tabulated from the World Economic Forum for each country. Quality of national parks and monuments within a 20-mile radius of each route were collected from Roadtrippers.com. Fuel prices were calculated from GlobalPetrolPrices.com.
Since the data sources’ information varies in format, normalization values were used to determine a 1-10 score in each category. The top-rated Australian road trip had a score of 7.27 and was the only route with a score of more than 7.
While based on strong criteria, the U.S. trips included provide plenty of fodder for discussion, including a caveat from the study’s authors.
“Discover some of the best road trips the world has to offer,” Moneybarn states. “We’ve mapped these out according to popular routes and roads, but you may wish to detour and make your own journey.”
The “Through Napa Valley” option topped six additional U.S. treks. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (8th), Pacific Coast Highway (9th), Southern Utah National Parks Circuit (10th), New York to Niagra (15th), Highway 61 (29th) and Route 66 (32nd) all made the top-50.
The Southern Utah National Parks Circuit was selected as the world’s best trip worldwide for the quality of national parks on the route. Trips in the U.S. collectively were ranked second-best to Sudan in fuel costs.
Likely the country’s most famous road stretch, the Route 66 drive is the longest in the study. It begins in Santa Monica and advances 2,454 miles through Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois to its conclusion in Chicago.
Far more condensed but no less enticing is the Pacific Coast Highway voyage. It’s a 655-mile drive from San Jose to San Diego while advancing through dozen of communities, Carmel to Morro Bay and San Barbara to Carlsbad.
For the exotically inclined, the drives from Estonia to Lithuania, Central Hokkaido Road in Japan and the Skeleton Coast in Namibia are all awaiting. Or perhaps The Wilds of Abruzzo in Italy, the Algarve Coast in Portugal or the Ring Road in Iceland are more appealing.
Details of the world’s best road trips are available via the URL www.moneybarn.com/50-unbeatable-road-trips
Article Last Updated: October 8, 2019.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.