Admittedly, I can turn any road trip into the best road trip.

Whether we’re making a routine drive to a grandparent’s house, or an epic trip across the country- I rock the planning stages. The key to a successful road trip is not in the execution, but in the planning. And so- I offer my tips on how to plan the best road trip.

Car loaded and we’re off…

First, let me say that I’ve been taking road trips for as long as I can remember. But, for the most part the trips consisted of getting from Point A to Point B. And back again. A few years ago I got really crazy and detoured a routine route through a new state (read about my unexpected love of the state, here.)

Although changing the route to go east and then south vs south then east only added 20 miles to our drive, it offered a whole new perspective on road trips (not to mention a new state to explore!) The end result is that I got hooked on playing with the logistics of our road trips.

Fast forward a few years and our family had the opportunity to spend a few days in Boston.

Initially we were all going to fly…and that was that. But then I started exploring the distance to Cape Cod. I wondered how feasible renting a car and driving out to the Cape for a day would be. Once I was looking at the map- I considered a day trip to New York City too. And then if we were doing that, we really needed to hit Rhode Island and Connecticut. And why not drive up to Maine too?

If you followed our social media last summer, you probably know where this is going.

Before my husband knew what hit him, I’d decided that we were going to drive to Boston- with maybe a day or two on either end of the trip for some exploring. And then somehow our 4 days in Boston turned into a two week road trip covering the entire East Coast. I wrote a few details about the road trip here.

Love the feature “add a stop” to see all the possibilities!

In the post I alluded to spending a lot of time planning pre-trip. Several people asked for more specifics about the planning. And so- here are my tips for how to plan the best road trip:

  • Know Point A, B and Maybe C: The first important step to planning your road trip is to know your major stops. Obviously Point A is your departure city. Point B might be the furthest destination you wish to reach or the main place you don’t want to miss. If you have a second location equally as important as Point B, you can call this Point C. Start there.
  • Know Your Time Limitations: If there was any possible way, I would (and could) travel full time- 365 days per year. But my husband has this thing called a job. And so, I *try* to be respectful of his schedule. Know how long you have for your road trip and make sure you plan accordingly. (Keep reading to the next point…)
  • Don’t Be Ridiculous: I can’t stress this enough- just because you physically CAN incorporate 48 states into 8.5 days doesn’t mean you should (and yes, it’s technically possible. Read about that here.) Try not to plan back to back days with lengthy drives. We’ve found 5 hours in the car to be our magic number. Any more than that and it feels like we’ve spent the whole day driving.
  • Rand McNally: I LOVE the “maps and directions” section on the Rand McNally website! I enjoy playing with the map after entering my main destinations to see what extra stops I can incorporate without going too far out of my way.
  • Loop: Ideally, to plan the best road trip you’ll find a route that takes you in a loop rather than a straight line two and from destinations. We make every effort to never backtrack on the same road. Sometimes you can even get super creative and find really fun options for your route (for example: when we took a car ferry to avoid a lot of backtracking.)

Of course, once you have your perfect logistical trip planned- you have to be willing to make spontaneous changes. Things will come up along the trip that either inspire you to add a stop or possibly even alter the route completely. And then, unfortunately, you will also have to deal with last minute traffic or road closures. Try not to be on such a tight schedule that you can’t adjust accordingly.

What is the longest road trip you’ve ever taken?

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How To Plan A Road Trip

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