Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Plan a Road Trip

It's summer and time for fun. For me, a huge part of summer is my annual road trip. Here's my advice if you're hoping to embark on one yourself.

1. Don't assume you have to go out of state just to see something cool. I discovered that about four hours north of here, my state has cascades, lighthouses, and quaint towns that are just as fun to visit as others I've seen on my cross-country trips.

2. Pick the sites you want to see. Plan everything else around that. Be honest about what you'll be okay if you miss and what is a must-see for you.

3. Use Map Quest or AAA or a navigation system to figure out how long the drives are going to be, then make a schedule for where you want to be and when.

4. Schedule a time cushion. Car problems are a reality of road trips. So are awesome detours. You don't want to be so tied to a schedule that you miss planned stops because of car problems or have to chose between an extra stop that sounds amazing (What? Waterfalls? Sign me up!) and one that you had your heart set on from the get-go.

5. If you're staying overnight in a hotel in a big city - especially for more than one night - I find that it is worth the money to get a hotel that is located smack-dab in the middle of the best sight-seeing in town. To figure out where this is in a city you've never been to, map a few attractions in the city that interest you. Often, I find that they're clumped in one section. If it's a shopping district you're looking for, search online until you know where the area is on a map and select a hotel within just a couple blocks. I learned this one the hard way. Our hotel in Chicago was just a block of Michigan Ave (famous for shopping). Sadly, it was the wrong end of Michigan Ave - the shopping was something like 20 blocks away! On the other hand, we got a hotel right by the Boston Commons and the red line (in Boston, they have a red line through the center of sidewalks that leads you right to many of their big historical sites - very tourist-friendly). We ended up stumbling across a free showing of a Shakespeare play on the Boston Commons when we were heading back to our hotel one night. How cool is that? In smaller cities, where it's not such a hassle to drive in and out, go ahead and book a nice hotel outside the city. This'll usually save you a fair amount of cash. Just be sure the drive into town won't make you wish you'd just paid more for a room.

Okay. I hope that helps you make some plans that turn out just the way you hope. Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with #5. Having a hotel close to the sights saves SO much time and energy, and to me, adds to the experience. (I've also found the sometimes they have better service because they have a lot of tourists coming through and are used to helping them. But that could be just my luck.) In New York, my aunt got us a cute hotel that had a view of the Empire State Building! It was awesome!