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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Myerstown, Pennsylvania, United States

    Default Road trip virgin!

    I am new to this road trip business, but I have long had a desire to travel; the most I have done is visited a few states up and down the east coast with family or friends. But, I desire more! I want to plan a trip across the US; after I graduate grad school in 2014, I want to take six months to a year off to just travel... I imagine I could do quite a bit of sightseeing in a year, no? ;) Finding places to stay will probably not be a huge issue, as I know (or my parents know) people in just about every state who would be willing to put me up for a few nights. So... my question is: how do I plan for this trip? I live in Pennsylvania, and I'd like to see as much as possible. I don't necessarily need to hit every state (although that'd be super rad), but I'm dying to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore and New Orleans... and so on and so forth.

    Suggestions as to places to stop? (I suppose I should first create a list of places I most definitely want to visit.)
    How would I go about creating a fairly direct route without winding all over the place?

    It'd be kind of nice to head south, then west, then loop back around... or something of the sort. Any advice or suggestions from road trip aficionados?

    Thanks so much!!! :)
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 08-08-2012 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Removed Non-Standard Font

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    The best way to start to plan a road trip is to get a good paper map, or an atlas, of the USA. The two most-used are Rand McNally and National Geographic. Use sticky notes or some other method to tag the spots you'd really like to see (such as Yellowstone, GC, MR and NO that you mentioned above). Look to see where else you'd like to see. Once you get a feel for what you'd really like to see, the route will fall into place. You can check back here and we can help you fine-tune your route and make sure that you're not backtracking where you don't have to.

    A loop trip is the most recommended. There are a few indications which might tell you which way to head first. Season of the year might be one of them.

    Staying with family and friends is always fun. Our rule-of-thumb is to stay long enough to do a good visit, but not enough to wear out our welcome (unless we are there to help with a project or family reunion, or something like that). Just be sure to have a back-up plan, as Cousin Susie just might get called out of town unexpectedly, or similar.

    If planning a budget is a concern, see our Saving Money on the Road forum for tips there. If what to pack is of concern, we have threads about that too. Or just ask, in this thread.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Save the paper maps for later!

    Or even better than a paper map is to use the RTA Custom Maps program. It's still a work in progress and there are only a few attractions in most states -- since all that are listed there have been field checked by RTA writers.

    But the electronic maps are much more fun to use -- for planning purposes. Once on the road, we recommend paper maps!

    And by all means, start on the Trip Planning page -- there are lots of ideas and tips for getting started.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Furthermore...

    As you have the best part of two years to plan this trip, start taking notes. Take notes when watching TV/movies, reading a book/paper/magazine/website, or listening to the radio/a lecture/people talking, etc. Every time you hear something of interest, note it down for future reference. It may be a place, historical or natural, it could be an event, a collapsed dam, wildfire, or whatever.

    I like to keep these listed in State order, so when I am planning to go see - for instance - Yellowstone, I can look at my list of interests in ID, MT and WY, see if any of the items noted are nearby, and plan to go check them out as well.

    As you so correctly stated, the first thing you need to do is make a list of what interests you the most. Then spend the next two years adding to this list as you learn about others. Use the extensive information in the forums, on the web, and research each item of interest as you find it.

    By the time you get to do this trip, you will be well informed and probably excited beyond belief.

    Enjoy the planning. It is half the fun.

    Also, remember, after three days, fish and visitors go off.


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