Planning for your next road trip.

As we’re all in self-isolation at the moment, why not take the time to plan out your next vacation. Although air travel might not be on the top of your list, why not consider planning a road trip for your next vacation… but where to go? Here are some tips on how to plan for your next road trip adventure.

What are your interests?

First and foremost, what do you like to do? Is there something that you have been dying to see? Have your kids/friends/family been bugging you to go to see the biggest ball of yarn?  Would you like to hit some historical or educational attractions? Is it important that you have beach time or time to hike?

Figure out what you want to see on your road trip. The best way to make the most of your trip is to fill it full of activities and/or destinations that you have always wanted to see/do. For example, I love the great outdoors but I’m not really fond of hiking. I’ll do it but it’s not my favorite thing. So a trip to one of the National Parks for me would include seeing if there are any spectacular drives I should take or any other activities that I might prefer such as a guided tour or kayaking. Or maybe they have a horseback riding tour of the park. Look for interests that you and your traveling companions would like to do.

Get a map or two

If you don’t own a map… you should. There are so many maps available to help with your travel planning. I use maps no matter what type of travels I’m doing. Not only will maps help you get where you’re going, they are so useful in deciding what you want to do when you get to your destination.

I’ll take the example of the National Park again. We’ll look at one of the largest, Yellowstone. Yellowstone National park has five entrances and spans over three states. It covers just under 3,500 square miles and has a ton to see. I spent two days there on a cross country trip but you can spend weeks and not see everything. Using a map will help you determine which sites are musts for you and which you’ll have to save until next time.

If you’re planning on staying in the park a map will help you see which attractions are easiest for you to get to, which park entrances are going to be the best for your trip and how to navigate around it all.

Research where you’re going

Whenever you’re planning a trip it is necessary to do research. Check for websites of activities and places you’re planning on going to. Too often trips are derailed due to poor planning. Many people think they can just show up and everything will be open. That isn’t the case.

I was road tripping in Canada a couple of years ago in late April and I was trying to cross back into the US. I got out my map and noticed there were a couple of border crossings near Glacier National Park, which was great because that’s where I wanted to go next. Unfortunately, I didn’t check to see if any of those borders were open, why would you, I thought, it’s the border it’s got to be open. However, at that time of the year, those elevations still see quite a bit of snow and some of those crossings are seasonal for a reason… they’re dangerous to travel.

Had I done the research I would have known that those borders were still closed until mid-May and saved myself, time, fuel, and money. It’s a rookie mistake but one we have all done because we thought we knew better and didn’t do the proper research.

Book some things in advance

Now that you’ve figured out where you want to do, what you want to do, and how you’re going to get there the next thing to do is to book what you can in advance. My travel style is fluid, I don’t want to book everything minute by minute. That’s fine. That’s how I travel but booking somethings in advance will not only give you peace of mind but allow you to do more of the things you want to do.

During the prime travel season (summer) many things like lodgings, campsites, and activities will sell out months in advance. Being proactive and booking things like your campsite in advance will minimize the stress of trying to find somewhere to stay once you get to your destination. I always like to book my “accommodations” and specialty events in advance.

On a recent road trip through the UK, I booked most of my accommodations in advance, not only for better pricing but it gave me an itinerary that I could share with my loved ones. It also provided a loose framework for my trip. I knew I was going to be in Bath for three days in mid-September. With my hotel booked I began looking for events which I might be interested in during my stay and it turned out I would be in Bath at the same time as the yearly Jane Austen festival. I was able to get tickets to festival events which were sold out by the time I was physically in Bath. You don’t have to plan every detail but booking some things can help to build excitement for your trip and the events that you do have planned.

Stay Organized

The last thing is to keep everything in one spot. Once you’ve started planning, create a folder. Keep everything together. Any bookings you have, any advanced tickets you purchased. Keep them all in the same place so that you don’t have to go searching for 10 different emails!

What I do is create a new folder in my email and name it for the destination. Then I move any pertinent information to that folder so that it’s easily retrievable while I travel. Put all your travel books and maps together for easy reference. Being organized will help minimize stress and allow you to enjoy more of your vacation.

What are some tips you have for planning your epic road trip? Are there certain apps that you use? Let me know in the comments. Until next time.

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