Driving Route 66 has become one of the worlds almost mythical land journeys since the road’s completion in 1926 and is many peoples definition of the classic road trip. Connecting Chicago in the East with LA in the West, and spanning 2400 miles as it crosses Illinois,Missourri,Kansas, Oklahoma,Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, Route 66 is a unique way to see America and a truly unique driving experience.
The old Route 66 road was decommissioned in 1984, but in its heyday saw migrants from the mid west moving west to seek their fortune in Hollywood, and in the post war boom saw pleasure seeking vacationers heading to the Grand Canyon, the Mississipi and California’s pacific beaches.
Its heyday is now long gone and the small towns, gas stations and diners which sprang up along the route are now largely forgotten, seemingly destined to spend the rest of their days locked in a 1950’s timewarp.
There are numerous attractions along the route and plenty of diversions a short drive away but one of the big pleasures of driving Route 66 is the opportunity to see a different side of America, which often feels like you’ve stepped back in time. This is particularly true if you happen to stop in a little town with no particular attractions, that doesn’t pull in that many tourists. Park up, saunter down main street and into the diner. Pull up a chair and soak up the atmosphere of smalltown America as it once was.
There are a number of websites devoted to driving Route 66. This one is very useful-
Route 66 was superceded by Interstate 40 and you can choose to use the newer road to speed up sections of the journey. If you stick to Route 66 and drive at a leisurely pace you should expect the full road trip to take around 14 days.
With a standard saloon car, around 85% of the old Route 66 is still driveable, and this increases with a 4WD. Where the old road isn’t useable you just join the main highway and drop off again when convenient.
You’ll find that Route 66 isnt included on any post 1985 maps as its no longer considered a highway. You can however buy maps online from
Most people’s dream would be to rent a classic car for their Route 66 road trip. This company rent classic cars such as 1967 Camarro SS, 1964 Corvette Stingray or 1955 Chevy Bel Aire and allow customers to start in LA or Chicago and drive the whole of Route 66 (plus other classic USA Drives). The cars are fitted with modern aids such as A/C and satnav so blend the best of modern techology with the spirit of years gone by!
If you really want to rent a classic car and maybe only drive part of the road, this company rent them in Las Vegas but don’t allow them to be taken out of the state.
If you prefer to drive in a guided group, this company run Route 66 tours a couple of times a year.
There are plenty of options to complete your Route 66 road trip in a standard car.There are a number of travel companies who offer 14 or 21 day flydrive trips, often with hotels included along Route 66. These may work out quite economical as they often have a deal with the rental companies so you don’t pay a one way drop off fee. However, they’re still not cheap and expect to pay around £2000/2000 euros per person (price reduces with more people sharing a room). The companies below offer Fly drive holidays on Route 66 with or without hotels included.
You can also go it alone and rent direct from one of the many car rental companies in the USA as mentioned on my ‘countries’ page. Shop around at the time you want to make the reservation and you’ll probably find someone has a special offer meaning they waive the drop off fee or give you a free upgrade. I was able to get a rate of £270 for a 14 day rental of a compact car, pick up Chicago, drop off LA, in May 2012 with Dollar via www.usrentacar.com. That seemed by far the best quote as most were around the £500 mark, which just shows, shop around and you may get lucky!