Whether you choose to zip around the Italian Riviera in a Ferrari, go off-road in Iceland, or get your kicks on Route 66, planning a road trip has never been easier.
The 18th-century English lexicographer and wit Samuel Johnson once said, 'The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.' It's the famous and the exotic places that loom especially large in our imaginations, and the best way to see things as they are is from a car window. When you drive, you control your journey - plot your own way and go whatever speed you like.
Internet sites such as Mapquest (www.mapquest.com), with its newly launched multi-stop route-builder, have made it easier than ever to plan road trips. Just type in the stops you want to make and it will provide maps and route suggestions for up to ten stops anywhere in the world.
In the United States, drive from Las Vegas - the world's flashiest city - to the Grand Canyon where you can marvel at two billion years of geological history. Begin the trip by cruising the Vegas strip in
a Bentley. The four-door, five-seat Arnage has an automatic transmission, is wildly comfortable, and does 6km a litre on the highway. Benzo Luxury Rent-A-Car (4750 W. Flamingo Road, tel: 1 702 871 5505; www.benzorentacar.com) hires the Arnage for US$1,750 a day and will arrange a limo to pick up its VIP guests.
Then drive along historic Route 66 - the highway that's been immortalised in countless songs. It's a 1,230km loop through the Grand Canyon, beginning and ending in Vegas. On your return trip, Route 9 will take you along the edge of the stunning sandstone cliffs of Utah.
Iceland boasts some of the loveliest and loneliest scenery, and during the summer has almost continual daylight. It may not be politically correct, but rent a Hummer H2 and do some off-roading. This much-maligned SUV might not have great fuel efficiency, but it's stylish and great for more rugged terrain. Prices start at Euro500 ($4,960) a day in the high season or Euro2,700 for the week from Geysir (Holtsgata 56, 260 Njardvik, Iceland, tel: 354 893 4455; www.geysir.is). Iceland's Ring Road is 1,335km around the island. Watch the barren mountains give way to steaming lava fields, mossy cliffs, tundra, desert, ice caps and lone farmhouses bright against the desolate landscape.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti was made for the Italian Riviera. More comfortable than your average sports car, its tiny backseat is an added bonus. The coupe drives as easily on country roads as on race tracks and the clutchless manual transmission with automatic shift provides the convenience - but not the stigma - of driving an automatic sports car. The SS1 Aurelia is a scenic toll-free road stretching from Rome to Genoa. Charming vineyards and tiny villages are within striking distance of the spectacular jagged coastline. Elite Rent-a-Car has a station in Rome (the Cavalieri Hilton Hotel,
via Alberto Cadlolo, 101, tel: 39 06 3549 1513; www.eliterent.com). If you wish to drive one-way
to Genoa, Elite charges an additional Euro900 to drop the car there. The 612 Scaglietti costs Euro2,190 a day for one to three days, less for longer. The roads winding through the seaside cliffs may be narrow, but the vistas are wide.