Road Trip Planning

Road trips are often associated with spontaneity and freedom and well, no planning at all – just driving and stopping when something strikes the travelers. Often I exclaim a new road trip idea of mine, and follow up the idea with “Let’s go! Now!” Practicality and responsibility dictate that I do otherwise; but I don’t mind too much because I enjoy plotting routes and determining destinations and a day by day itinerary (give or take some miles).

On our first big road trip in 2006, Vinny and I found ourselves, all too often, without a place to stay for the night. You see, I had planned the location for stopping, but not where exactly (i.e. which hotel, campground reservations).  On our tight budget, we couldn’t afford just any hotel on the road.  And for many reasons (a lost map, maybe), we couldn’t find a few of the campgrounds.  So we’d keep driving. These all deserve separate stories, but one night we were lost in southwestern Missouri, two kids accustom to suburban highways glowing with streetlights, not pitch black winding roads. We ended up at a hotel in Neosho, MO. Another night the campground we wanted was full. Again, we continued driving figuring we had to find something. Ha. We were in the middle of Oklahoma and by some crazy turn of events, every hotel from Oklahoma City to Guthrie was booked. By the time we stopped at a scary motel in Stillwater, we were beyond exhausted.

On those particular nights, it would have been much better if I had made reservations. Of course, I now love these stories and wouldn’t trade them for reservations.  However, I bring up this as I begin to plan another one of our road trips. I don’t mind not having a place to stay if you have an unlimited budget, but when you’re desparate for a room, hotels can see it in your eyes. And suddenly your campground budget is shot by one hotel night stay. So, I will be a much better planner this time around.

As I’m searching the web for road trips resources, I found RoadTrip America, an excellent website for road trip planning, route ideas, gear reviews, tips, day trips, images, road food, and much more, including a collection of funny road signs. Many of them are hysterical, or at least rather amusing. The next time you’re looking for some road trip help, check out that site. Whether you’re in New York City looking for a day trip, or wanting to go the wild wild west, or needing to calculate the fuel cost, you’ll find something useful.

3 thoughts on “Road Trip Planning

  1. Tara says:

    Great post on road trip planning – or the lack of it! I’m a huge road tripper and I’ve both tried trips with and without planning. It’s true that you get some funny stories out of it when you don’t plan (sleeping in the car one night gave me and my friends a new appreciation for a bed or a campsite).

    These days I’m a big planner (hence my site), but always leave room/unplanned time for serendipity to work it’s magic! Road Trip America’s pretty good, but my favorites are for their awesome collection of crazy/zany attractions and for all the great diners/drive-ins/burger joints they review.

  2. Kaitlin says:

    Tara, I love your website. It looks like it’s a lot of fun to maintain and keep up to date. I like the other websites you have, too. I’ve often used, what crazy stuff there is on the road!

  3. Tara says:

    Thanks, Kaitlin! I have a great time finding out new routes, road foods, and funky and cool attractions – plus I just revel in the pleasure of discovery. I’ll never try to compete with, but I’m hoping to start a gallery of favorite roadside signs, sights, old motels, and retro diners/drive-ins (just for the fun of it).

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