Epic traveller’s routes
Trekkers resting after completing the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu. (John Borthwick/LPI)
Feel like you have missed out on something? Dust off the trusty backpack and hit the trails that inspire everyone, from the travel novice to the seasoned veteran.
Istanbul to Cairo, Middle East
İstanbul has a foot on two continents, making it an ideal launch pad for the Middle East. This route works its way down through Turkey and into Syria, with an evocative bazaar at Aleppo and the spectacular city of Damascus. Head down to Jordan, pausing to admire the ruins of Petra and to float in the Dead Sea. Regardless of your faith, detouring to Jerusalem makes for a religious experience, then chill out with some Red Sea snorkelling. You will need the relaxation to prepare for crowded Cairo, where a trip out to the pyramids is a requirement.
East Coast Australia
Many travelers kick this trip off in Sydney, with its glammed up beaches and iconic bridge drawing their attention. Some might meander as far south as Melbourne, the so-called Paris of the Southern Hemisphere, with its cosmopolitan culture and European weather (its grey winter is infamous). But the more beaten-track trips north of Sydney, through hippy haven Byron Bay, which has awesome surf breaks. If you are collecting capitals stop off at Brisbane, but most continue to tropical Cairns, a jumping-off point for cruising the Great Barrier Reef, the coral-jewelled necklace that makes the most stunning adornment to this coast.
Banana Pancake Trail
Most Southeast Asia trips start in Bangkok's backpacker epicentre, Khao Sanh Rd, but hordes wander to the beaches of Ko Pha-Ngan or up-market Phuket. Many young travellers head to Cambodia's Siem Reap to gape at the ancient civilisations of Angkor Wat, before heading to Ho Chi Minh City and working their way north along Vietnam's coast to the majestic rock formations of Halong Bay. To get off the trail a little more head inland to Laos' capital, Vientiane, or elephant trek in Khao Yai National Park. Bangkok and Singapore are both hubs for airlines so there are often cheap flights out of these cities to many other places in Asia.
North Island to South Island, New Zealand
The trail begins in Auckland, where plenty of backpackers enjoy the party life, then heads down to Rotorua for the volcanic sights and hangi (traditional Maori feasting and performance). The route winds on through Lake Taupo, a good spot for skydiving and water sports. Then make for windy Wellington with its cafe culture and kooky Beehive (national parliament). From here you can hop across to the South Island for whale-watching in Kaikoura before heading for Queenstown, the base for exploring spectacular Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, or tearing up the scenic waterways in a jet-boat.
Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
Once the route of the tsars, this 9,289km stretch of track starts on the coast in Vladivostok, rattling along to Moscow by way of the world's deepest lake, Baikal, or stopping at Yekaterinburg, where the Romanov line of tsars came to a bloody end. The railway ends at magnificent Moscow with its gold-domed churches and austere Red Square, though it is possible to go on to St Petersburg. For an alternative route, take the Trans-Mongolian from Beijing and explore the steppes of Mongolia before meeting the mainline just near Lake Baikal - in fact many Western travellers use this route given the awkwardness of reaching Vladivostok from most points. Or, if you are looking for a slightly quieter route to Beijing, there is the Trans-Manchurian line, which turns south east of Mongolia.
Route 66, US
Few roads say Americana like this legendary route. While the name ceased to be used in 1985, young adventurers still pick up its path to see the best of the US. It begins in Chicago, where you can catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field; further on, see legendary blues in St Louis. Put your foot on the gas to hit Kansas, in the heartland of long flat plains. The road cuts through the Lone Star State of Texas, marking the halfway point with an epic junkyard sculpture. There is more cow poking in New Mexico then it is on to Arizona, boasting the longest uninterrupted stretch of the original route. California builds to the oasis of Los Angeles, with Hollywood and Rodeo Drive the climax of the trip.