Friday, July 5, 2013

Planning a road trip - Attractions and activities

Now that you've got a basic idea of what you're wanting your road trip to look like, its time to start planning what you're going to do along the way to your destination. I would suggest putting together a binder or, perhaps, online work folder to keep all your planning together. In fact, I still have my binder from when I planned a lighthouse road trip for my mom and I. I can go back and do the same trip again, if I wanted to, because all my planning, brochures, and other things I collected along the way are in there.

Old binder (Oregon coast, 3day round trip) next to the new one (Oregon to Arkansas, 8 days)
I like to have a master schedule at the start and then everything else is organized by day
Start with plugging in your starting and ending addresses into Google maps. Now, from A to B it may take less time than what you've originally planned and that's okay... for now :)

For example, for my trip it would take 3 days of straight driving to get from Albany, OR to Fort Smith, AR but I was given 6-8 for the trip.
At this point, with the purpose of your trip in mind, grab that purple (or is it blue?) line with your clicker, and drag to desired stops. This stage of planning is just to focus on the big stops. Remember, it's not just stopping and then moving on, you're going to want to spend time at each stop. Depending on how far you have to drive, try only having 1-2 big things per day of the trip.

After talking to each of my siblings about places they'd like to see, I set on making detours through Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore. White dots are where the route was altered.
For my trip, even at this point we were still at only 5-6 days of driving but smaller stops and detours will be added along the way. What I like to do as I go through planning road trips, is to print out 1-2 pages of information on all the places we're going. This provides reading material that can be read out loud to everyone on the trip, educating them a little on the destination, while also saving time once getting there.

Here are my print outs for some of our Route 66 stops
Printing out and reading information ahead of time also gives insight on the places you're going and can save you time and money in the long run. For example, parking right next to the gift shop at the Hoover Dam costs $7 or you can drive across to the Arizona side of the Hoover dam and just up and around the corner is a free parking lot, plus you get the chance to walk and drive across the dam.

A great place to find information is at the states webpage. You can order a free road map and visitors guide for each state from those websites as well, just be sure to give it 4-8 weeks for them to be mailed to you (I ordered one at the beginning of June and it's still not here). Most state websites also offer electronic versions of the travel guides, if you're looking at saving a tree or two. Below are the links, just click on the state:

If you're looking at doing an in-state road trip it still might be a good idea to check out your states webpage to get an outsiders look at what's great about the place you live. You may discover something exciting and new.

Now get to planning and remember that it's supposed to be fun so don't stress it too much! Until next time, live long and prosper!

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