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Thread: Cross-Country

  1. Default Cross-Country

    Hi everyone. My father was a truck driver who died on the road this past November. The open road was something that he loved dearly and in remembrance of him my mother and I would like to go on a road trip next summer. The only problem is: I have no idea how to plan this trip. There are so many wonderful places he was able to take us on vacations and so many memories that I just don't know where to begin. The only thing that I'm sure of is that we wish to go from Maine to California. One of my mom's favorite vacations was in Maine and although they grew up in the same town my parents didn't meet until they went to California. Do I need to plan hotel stays? Do I need to plan the exact route or is it best to just follow the road? I'm not sure where to begin and any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Sarah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default make it your own

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The great thing about roadtrips is that they are individual experiences, and everyone is different.

    Because of that, there are no single answers to the questions you're asking. Each of them depends solely on how you want to approach your roadtrip.

    Even the level of planning depends on your own style. It can range from marking the exact route with exact hotel stays and a day by day itinerary, to planning only a rough sketch, where you don't decide on much anything until you are on the road.

    I'd start thinking about what you hope to achieve, where you'd like to go, and how achieving those goals would fit best with your own personal style. There are lots of articles and ideas on this website, both in the planning section and on the forum. I suggest you look around to help get a better feel to how to build the best roadtrip for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default In Memory of Your Dad

    There are arguments to be made on both sides of the pre-planning/pre-booking vs. just following the road. There is certainly no need to know exactly which way you're going and where you'll stay each night before you set out. The American road system and hotel/motel infrastructure are such that you can always "get there from here" and find a choice of lodging options each evening. Still, I'm going to suggest that you do as much planning as possible before you go for a couple of reasons. The first is to reduce your uneasiness in trying to take your first RoadTrip without your father. Getting all the logistics out of the way before you leave makes the trip, in my experience at least, more enjoyable than any perceived freedom. Actually you still have the same freedom to go where and do what you will, you just exercise it earlier. But by figuring out where you'll settle in each night before you start, you have that hassle out of the way and aren't wasting vacation time worrying each evening whether you'll be able to find a place that meets your needs and budget.

    There are several web sites that let you compare motel reviews and prices. If you just enter {townname motel} into your favorite search engine, you'll quickly see what your options are. As to deciding where to stop each night, we generally recommend that you plan on traveling around 500-550 miles on a day which is devoted mostly to driving, with appropriately fewer miles if you plan to make a major stop at some attraction on a given day. Even on days where your main focus is just getting down the road, there are certainly opportunities for taking restful time outs, and you certainly ought to do so.

    If you use on-line mapping routines such as Google Maps or MapQuest, they will generally start by just giving you the most 'efficient' route from Point A to Point B, generally by an all Interstate route. But you should also feel free to adjust those suggested routes by picking some major alternative way points between your starting and ending points and note how many, or how few, miles that adds to your total journey. Once you have a basic route that gets you to all the big attractions you want to include on your trip, get a good atlas and see what's available for smaller stops either on or not too far off that basic route. And be sure to remember that you can pick two different basic routes, one going and one coming.

    Finally, the main reason that I suggest that you put some work into planning the trip beforehand is that I want to give you the best chance of recreating the memorable trips your father took you on, and to give you an appreciation for the effort he probably put into making them memorable.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are so many good ways to get from Maine to California in the summer that you will have a wonderful time planning it.

    Suggestion - buy a GPS if you don't have one. Use this in conjunction with a road atlas. What I'd suggest is grab directories from the major motel/hotel chains (Motel 6, Super 8, etc.) and keep them in the car. When you feel like it's time to start thinking about stopping for the night, pop them open and see what's around, call the hotel itself (not the national 800 number) with your cell phone and check availability, make a reservation if necessary to hold a room till you get there.

    In honor of your dad, I might want to explore historic Route 66.

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