RoadTrip America

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

Travel Planning

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Fly-and-Drive Road Trips, by Mark Sedenquist

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Fly-and-drive Road Trips
Gerald Thurman


1. Pack your vehicle carefully. Suitcases don't make very good on-the-road Go-Kits. We recommend unpacking and stowing essential safety gear toward the front of your car's trunk for easy access. Mount the car magnet antenna for the CB (if you brought one), and place the maps and weather-alert radio within easy reach of the front seat. Organize luggage to minimize the amount you will need to carry into a motel when you stop for the night. Stow cameras, jackets and other often-used items where they can be easily reached.

2. Make some strategic first stops. Our first stop is at a local market to stock up on fresh fruits and other road trip snacks. We also grab a supply of bottled drinking water. Something we have always enjoyed about fly-and-drive roadtrips is having a new or nearly new vehicle to tool around in. Still, the best thing is always the "mosey factor." On our recent fly-and-drive trip to Montana, for example, we followed a meandering country road that dead-ended at Kehoe's Agate Shop, a terrific gem and mineral store on the edge of a river that feeds Flathead Lake. After we got home, we found an online listing for the shop, but it would have been tough to find it ahead of time. The Web is a great resource for roadtrip planning, but there is no substitute for simply driving to the end of the road to see what fascinating things might be found there. Here are five cities that make excellent hubs for fly-and-drive roadtrips:

  • Los Angeles. Click here for an excellent overview of the city itself. When you're done with the urban tour, head north up U.S. Highway 101 to visit the lesser-known central coast winery region; here is an excellent guidebook for this area. If you have time, work your way to the northeast and visit Sequoia National Park before returning to Los Angeles.
  • Denver. Here is a field report by Gerald Thurman about a five-day road trip out of Denver that included visits to Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Gold Belt Scenic Byway and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul. A four- or five-day trip could include an exploration of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Wisconsin Dells, the amazing locks at Sault Ste. Marie and a wandering pursuit of the larger-than-life roadside attractions that seem to inhabit just about every small town in Wisconsin.
  • Orlando, Fla. The Florida Keys and southern Florida abound with day-tripping opportunities. One of our favorite places is Wakulla Springs State Park in northern Florida. And, of course, there are the more-famous theme parks in and around Orlando.
  • Pittsburgh. Another one of our favorite cites, this is an ideal hub for checking out fall foliage displays -- lots of hardwood forests without the hordes that frequent New England in the autumn months.

These are only a tiny taste of what's out there begging for exploration on this great American landmass. Next time you're thinking "Road Trip!", include a plane flight in your plans and expand your reach.

Mark Sedenquist



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