Long before I ever jet set to London or Tokyo, and long before I sailed the oceans or bussed to Antarctica, I went on road trips, with my parents.

Every summer we set off in our family van, rolling from one rest stop to the next, on to national parks and the beach and the mountains, discovering the vastness and wonder of America, mile by mile. For sure, road tripping across America is how I learned to travel and how I fell in love with my own country.

I learned to drive a standard transmission coasting the endless horizon of Nebraska. Road trips also taught me how to change a tire, what bison look (and taste) like, that some rocks are purple and red, and that the Mississippi really is a mile wide.

The great secret of America is that it is a huge place, from start to finish. It’s so big that too many travelers get lost in the fabulous labyrinth of New York City and never get to venture beyond the Hudson to all of our fifty amazing states, each of them so utterly unique and exciting . . . and different! Every state has their own flavor, and each boasts their own long history of exploration, which is still happening right now.

For the last 126 years, National Geographic has helped Americans discover the rest of the world. This year, we’ll be helping the rest of the world discover America. This week, I embark on my first in a series of Great American Road Trips. I am especially thrilled to be driving the entire length of America’s Historic Route 66, from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. The Mother Road represents the evolution of America as a nation, and I can’t think of a better way to see and experience my country then exploring this epic 2,488-mile highway.

I invite all of you to follow along (on this blog, and on Twitter) as I drive the entire length of Route 66, and then embark on a series of other Great American Road Trips in my own wonderful and exotic country, the big, bold and beautiful USA.

It’s going to be really fun.

Comments

  1. Ken
    Toronto
    April 7, 1:13 pm

    Looking forward to travelling with you again on this historic route.

    I travelled the length of the original route 66 twice in 1968 while delivering yachts to los Angeles and San Diego en route to the ’68 Olympics in Acapulco. What great memories of the trip. Death valley I think was the most exciting.

    Have great trip Andrew.

  2. Laurel Kane
    United States
    April 7, 5:03 pm

    You’ll have the best time on your Route 66 trip! I have a little private Route 66 / Antique Car museum on 66 in the tiny town of Afton, OK and I’d love to have you stop for a visit. I got my start as a road traveler the same way you did — traveling with my parents all summer, every summer. You can read about it at http://www.postcardsfromtheroad.net.

  3. Ron McCoy
    United States
    April 7, 5:17 pm

    You’ll certainly see the REAL America! Be sure to get at least one good Route 66 guidebook. I’d suggest “Route 66: EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers.” Regardless of what some folks say, almost ALL of the original road is driveable. Stay on the old road and resist the temptation to hop on the Interstates!!

  4. […] announcement of the trip, made in Chicago this morning, contained these […]

  5. Jim Conkle
    April 7, 6:28 pm

    One trip will not be enough. It takes a lifetime and even then you will have not see everything or met all the wonderful people. A trip that will add many memories to your files.

  6. Anoop Savio
    India
    April 7, 6:28 pm

    Ready for the drive with you…

  7. Herb M.
    St. Louis, MO.
    April 7, 6:40 pm

    Every Friday night we have a Family oriented Cruise in Kirkwood, Missouri just off Route 66 and quite often we have people find us following Route 66 from other countries. We have had people from Norway, China, Australia, New Zealand & others just to name a few. Most ask why we don’t promote our cruise on 66 sites because they would adjust their plans to be in Saint Louis on a Friday. Good Question! 2014 will be our seventh year cruising and we have 200+ cars, motor cycles, & trucks show on an average Friday night, weather permitting of course! We are one long block north of Historic Route 66 (Watson Rd) on Lindbergh at Big Bend Rd across the street from Doc’s Harley Davidson, another big hit with guests from other countries.

    Also we have permission and the blessings from the city of Kirkwood, Kirkwood Police, Kirkwood Commons – the lot owners, and of course Sonic Drive-in to hold our cruise. The area is safe to walk around with no fear of intimidation, robbery, or assault. The Kirkwood Police pass by and thru the lot regularly and I am proud to say we have never needed them in the last six years we have been doing this! For the shopping oriented, Kirkwood Commons has a Home Goods, Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Target, TJ Maxx and dozens of other stores. Nearby restaurants include Uno Chicago Grill and Texas Roadhouse.

    About the Outsiders Car Club, we are a group of friends that were tired of cruises that your car is too old or to new or not a Mustang, Camaro or good enough paint or ugly wheels or people with attitudes. Enough of that! We just wanted to have a friendly place for wheeled transportation enthusiasts to get together, exchange ideas, learn from others $$.¢¢ mistakes, admire what other people have done and get ideas for future modifications to your car. So, That Said, You will see everything from Mild to Wild, Rat Rods to Military vehicles, Bicycles to Tractor Trailer rigs and even a Barris Kustom or two on any given Friday night.

    If you have any other questions or need more information please feel free to contact me.
    Herb McCurdy
    zephyr9900@hotmail.com
    Member, Outsiders Car Club

    Outsiders Car Club Car Cruise ~ Held each FRI Night, ~ Mar thru Nov – 5pm until 10pm ~ Attendance prizes, 50/50 drawing, music ~ Come have fun and great food @ Sonic ~ No Alcohol or Burnouts and leave your attitude at home ~ Not responsible for accidents, damage to or loss of property ~ held at Sonic Drive-In, 1002 South Kirkwood (Lindbergh), at Big Bend ~ KIRKWOOD, MO

  8. Scott Piotrowski
    Los Angeles, CA on the road!
    April 7, 10:20 pm

    Looking forward to reading along, and more than happy to meet up with you in Los Angeles and show all of the wonders of the Mother Road in the City of Angels! There’s plenty left, including nearly 60 National Register landmarks within the corridor in LA County! Hope to see you when you are here!

  9. danny scott
    3122 N. May ave. okc, ok 73112
    April 7, 11:21 pm

    we would love to meet you if you have the time stop by the Phoenix Vendor Mall in okc,ok the home of the route 66 trading post. we are on face book. are address is 3122 n. may ave (old route 66) in okc,ok

  10. Jane S. Reed
    Cuba, MO
    April 8, 3:58 am

    I look forward to following your journey and blog. Bring your camera when you visit our Route 66 town of Cuba, MO. We have the oldest continuously operating motel on Route 66 – The Wagon Wheel with a great neon sign. See our murals at http://www.cubamomurals.com. Then there’s that big rocker…I suggest you take Jim Hinckeley’s new book with you.

  11. Jane S. Reed
    Cuba, MO
    April 8, 4:01 am

    I see that you just got back from the country of Cuba. You can see one of the nine U.S. Cubas on this trip.

  12. Stan Barker
    Carlinville, IL
    April 8, 8:44 am

    Ten Reasons Why You Should Stop In Carlinville, IL on old Route 66:
    1) A classic American Town Square with Victorian cast-iron storefronts, still paved in brick as it has been since the 1890.
    2) The only Town Square in Illinois that Route 66 goes completely around, and one of only two sections of Route 66 in Illinois still paved in brick
    3) The most magnificent Courthouse in Illinois. Begun as a $50,000 project, it wound up costing $1.3 million– back in 1870! A political scandal then… Recognized as an architectural masterpiece today!
    4) An old county jail built with surplus Civil War cannonballs inside the walls to prevent prisoners from breaking through and escaping.
    5) The largest neighborhood of Sears catalog kit homes in the United States, 150 of the original 156 still standing.
    6) Taylor’s world-famous Mexican Chili Parlor, dating back to the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair.
    7) An grand hotel on the Square said to be one of the most haunted places in Central Illinois!
    8) Half-way between Springfield, IL and St. Louis, MO, a favorite stopping place for international tourists driving the original alignment of Route 66.
    9) Picked as one of the “100 Best Small Towns in America”… and the only town named Carlinville in the entire world!
    10) The tenth– and best– reason for stopping in Carlinville? We want you to! Take a look at us on Facebook at Carlinville Illinois on old Route 66. Contact us at the Chamber of Commerce, 217-854-2141, and we’ll be glad to show you around!

  13. Vickie Ashcraft
    Albuquerque, NM
    April 8, 12:19 pm

    I know you’ll have a great time while exploring the Mother Road. New Mexico is made of vast open landscapes and small friendly communities. Hope you can take your time to explore the many Mom & Pop locations. I have a small RV park on Albuquerque’s west side with a collection of vintage travel trailers I rent to Route 66 tourists. Stop by if you have a chance I’d love to show them to you. enchantedtrails.com

  14. Ved Shandil
    Barstow, California
    April 8, 1:14 pm

    We love Route 66. Best of luck on a great trip. Do stop by and visit us if you have time. We have been here for 30 years trying to keep Route 66 alive :)

  15. Tonya
    United States
    April 8, 5:44 pm

    I can’t wait to follow along on your journey. In November, my husband and I packed up with our three kids (17, 18 & 20) and drove from Ohio to California and back, exploring parts of Route 66. It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to travel the entire length of the route.

  16. sally
    denver co
    April 9, 6:53 pm

    Having driven much of historic Route 66 I can tell you it’s a life changing trip. I actually drove on a forbidden part of the route and got very vaklempt while doing it. I would love to take a month or two to explore all it has to offer. Have fun and I look forward to your observations!

  17. Van Hess
    TX
    April 10, 9:37 am

    Got to stay in a wigwam in Holbrook and sing with the Eagles in Winslow. http://www.galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam/ I’m heading off for the OK & MO Route 66 in a few days. Done parts of it before and hope to finish next year.

  18. RENEE CHARLES
    Galena, Kansas
    April 10, 12:06 pm

    I hope you travel through Kansas, there is 13.2 miles of Route 66, and we would love to show you every mile. I noticed the pictures in the article did not even list us. LOL we are used to that but they missed some pretty good people and places.Just swing by Cars on the Route and I’ll be happy to brag about our section of the Mother Road. Hope to see you soon!

  19. Carol Lammers
    Brookline, MA
    April 10, 8:15 pm

    On April 29 I board the train for Winslow AZ. I meet up with a friend and we start our drive of Route 66. I know it starts in Chicago and goes to LA but we want to get out of the South before it gets to hot. We are starting from the AZ-CA boarder and go to Chicago. So maybe we will meet you along the way. That would be fun!!!!

  20. Chloe
    April 11, 5:31 am

    This is such a fun idea. I also have gone on many road trips with my family that have inspired me to go out and learn about the world and all the beautiful things it possesses.I am excited to watch as you take your trip and I can’t wait until the day I take a similar one for myself.

  21. Alicia
    April 11, 8:38 am

    Hi! I’m a big fan of this blog. I’ve just create a traveling blog myself! Check it out if you want to, first stop: Canterbury

    http://wonderlandgb.blogspot.com.es/

  22. […] Andrew’s latest adventure–an epic road trip from Chicago to L.A. on America’s most famous highway, Route 66–on the Digital Nomad blog and on Twitter […]

  23. Michelle
    http://www.nahmj.wordpress.com
    April 12, 1:16 am

    I have never done a road trip as I couldn’t drive but it certainly sounds interesting. I would love to do one.

  24. Ken Petta
    East texas
    April 14, 3:34 pm

    I met two nice blokes yesterday when I was visiting Cadillac ranch west of Amarillo. It was fascinating to hear about the welded tire parts on the display. I wouldn’t dream that Americans would covet part of Americana and Route 66 but apparently die hardship can’t get enough of the mother road! I grew up in Tulsa and thoroughly enjoyed my kicks on Route 66! One doesn’t meet people on the route; one meets characters! From mild to wild as you wrote. Enjoyed exchanging photo ops with the Aussie and the kiwi! You all are having the time of your lives, thanks for sharing with us! Palo duro canyon misses you I might add! Ciao ken

  25. Larry L
    U.S.
    April 22, 11:30 am

    Hope you found the start easier than we did. Ended up leaving Chitown without getting a picture of the starting point.
    Watch the road west of Springfield, I don’t remember exactly what portion – but it nearly bounced our trailer to pieces…We had to slow to 40 to stay in one piece.
    After that we ‘jumped’ ahead to our next RV Park via the Interstate and then drive back in the truck and drove Route 66. Actually worked out better – we were able to get into places that we could never have got the truck into with a 39′ 5th wheel trailer hooked up.
    All in all we had a wonderful 8 weeks getting to Santa Monica…Which actually included a mule trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And we decided we would love to do it again and stop at the places we missed.
    Enjoy the trip….Drive Safely