RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

How to Plan a Great Road Trip


A little planning can go a long way toward making your road trip the adventure of your dreams. These eight road-tested tips will help you head happily for the horizon.

  1. Identify your trip's purpose. Why are you taking this trip? If you can answer that, you'll know how much planning will be required. For example, if your answer is, "I want to hit the road and see where it takes me in four days," you don't need much more than a tank of gas to get going. On the other hand, an answer like, "I want to take a week to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, seeing as many attractions as I can along the way" will require a fair amount of advance planning to pull off.

  2. Know your style. Are you the type who has to have hotel reservations to feel comfortable, or are you happy stopping at the nearest roadside motel when the sun goes down? Do you like to have a detailed route plotted out in advance, or do you like letting serendipity influence your route once you hit the road? Pay attention not only to your preferences but also those of your traveling companions. What might seem like freedom to you may be terrifying to another. To a person who likes spontaneity, a tightly scheduled road trip may feel stultifying.

  3. Get ideas and information from lots of sources. Yes, it would be terrific if you could go to one Web site, enter your start and finish points, click a button, and get back a perfectly planned road trip package without paying a dime. Or would it? Aside from the fact that point-and-click road trip planners are still in their infancy, there is much to be said for good old-fashioned research. Simply put, the more time and interest you yourself put into planning your trip, the more you yourself will get out of it when you actually hit the road. Where to start? Try posting a query on our RoadTrip Forum. You'll probably be amazed at the great tips and suggestions you'll get in response. Use RoadTrip America as a starting point to find maps, routes, and attractions. Check out our book recommendations for print resources.

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