Whether you’re a road trip veteran or simply excited to plan your first road trip, these tips can help you hit the road!
1. Decide Your Road Trip Type
You may not have noticed, but there are different types of road trips. I like to call them the Road Warrior, the Scenic Route and the Stop Over.
On the Road Warrior, most of the time is spent in the car itself, with fun roadside attractions added in along the way. This type of trip is best for people who enjoy long drives, short stops and covering a lot of ground. The Scenic Route features an equal amount of driving and sightseeing. It’s ideal if you have specific attractions you want to spend time exploring, while still having a road-trip feel. Finally, on the Stop Over, you’d enjoy multiple days at each stopping point, so you wouldn’t have to drive every single day, and you’d get to see many attractions at each destination.
So, the first step in planning a road trip is to decide what type of road trip you’re in the mood for!
2. Choose a Region & Must-Sees
Next, decide which region you’re interested in seeing. You’ll probably want to consider how much time you have, what the weather is like during the current season, and how close the region is to your starting point. If it’s far away, you could consider a Fly & Drive road trip.
Once you have a region in mind, consider the top places to see in that area. Think of bucket-list type items that you don’t want to miss! For my husband and I, it’s always about National Parks, so we scope those out early on. But for you, it could be museums, aquariums, odd roadside attractions, big cities, beaches, or something else altogether.
3. Select Stops Based on Drive Time
I always use a service like Google Maps to begin creating my road trip itinerary. Since it shows me the drive time for every leg of the trip, I can quickly get a good idea of where I want to stop along the way. Since I’m usually on a Scenic Route type of trip, I tend to choose destinations that are about 3 or 4 hours apart.
Did you know? Once you’ve created your route on Google maps, you can share in an email. That way you can always get back to it when you need to make changes or navigate.
4. Scope Out Hotel Deals
One of my favorite things about taking a road trip is how spontaneous it is! That’s why I like to use HotelCoupons.com to make sure I get the best last-minute discount on hotel rooms.
Since I’m also a planner, I like to scope out the hotel deals ahead of time. I usually use the website or mobile app to save my top hotel choices in each destination so we always have good, affordable options for places to stay.
5. Plan Your Activities
When creating an itinerary, it’s important to always consider how long each activity is going to take. You don’t want to end up missing out on a great experience because you misjudged how long another would take.
I typically decide on my top things to do in each road trip destination and write down how much they cost and how much time to spend in each place.
Hit the Road!
Before you leave on your road trip, don’t forget to perform needed car maintenance, check the weather and be willing to change your plans as needed. We always carry our handy Road Atlas – sometimes you just need a physical map when you lose cell service or want to conserve your battery.
When you hit the road, don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter using @drivethenation and #traveltheUS!
Need More Help Planning?
Drive the Nation is the perfect resource for road trip itineraries across the U.S.! Check out our suggested itineraries online now!