About Trip Planning

All trips start with some kind of a plan — even if the plan is simply to go without planning! And while a lot can be said for just getting in the car and going, as soon as your trip has an obligatory return date, you can benefit from good planning. The more complex, multiple destination trips with set departure and return dates, really need a solid plan (though the plan should be like a road map that leaves room for detours along the way, rather than a set-in-stone schedule that has no place for on-location discoveries).

The best plans are detailed and precise, with built- in adaptability to react to changing  circumstances on the ground. For our GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP 2010, we used a number of planning tools and began the process almost a year before our departure date.


PLANNING AND LOGISTICS

ROUTING OF THE TRIP: (Proposed route with segments, mileage, estimated times, activities, etc.)
The actual historical Route 66 is from Chicago to Santa Monica. The rest of the trip segments are put together based on what might be interesting, and so that we would be going back a different way than we came. Our choices of stopovers and activities along the route were influenced by time available, budget and style of travel preference … [ read more ]

LET’S TAKE A ROAD TRIP… : (Challenges of trip planning)
It started out simple enough — the old “wouldn’t it be fun to…” kind of idle chat between two friends on a lazy summer afternoon. “Wouldn’t it be fun to take the Jeep and drive Route 66 to California…” Between us, “Cactus Killer” and I had done an awful lot of traveling over the years … [ read more ]

WHICH WAY DO WE GO?: (Routing NY to Chicago)
While Route 66 was the raison d’être of our trip, we would actually have to travel a lot more. First, we would have to get from New York to Chicago, to the Route’s starting point, and then we would have to get back to New York from California, once we made it out there … [ read more ]

PLANNING ONE DAY IN A CITY: (Choosing activities)
One of the biggest challenges we faced on our trip was the lack of time to really “take in” any one place. Of course, we knew that would be the case when we decided to do such an intense road trip, but we still wanted to make the most of our stopovers. Cities were especially difficult. What was the point in visiting a city for just one day — what could we possibly discover in such a short time? … [ read more ]

RESERVATIONS OR NOT?: (Itinerary planning, St. Louis to Amarillo camping options)
To make or not to make reservations, that is the question…. But seriously, planning a trip of this length, we really DID have to make some decisions about advance reservations versus the spontanaeity of the road … [ read more ]

CAMPING ACROSS AMERICA: (Camping style options)
Camping across America is a great way to really see the country up close and personal. It is also a very affordable way to travel. But camping is not for everyone. And not everyone has the same idea about what camping means. For some, it means minimal supplies, tent and sleeping bags, in a remote area where you can appreciate being relatively alone with nature. For others, it is a “traveling” house, that moves from mini-resort to mini-resort, with lots of opportunities to meet new people and participate in organized activities. And then, there is everything in between. … [ read more ]

STAYING ORGANIZED ON THE ROAD: (What to take and how to keep it all together)
A six-week road trip is an amazing experience, but it also creates plenty of opportunities for total chaos. Staying organized during the journey was a challenge. Basically we were living out of the Jeep, carrying all our gear and just re-supplying perishables on stops along the route. We had to come up with a work-able solution to simply avoid being buried under our “stuff” while driving. And we needed to make sure we didn’t lose anything important along the way … [ read more ]


RESOURCES:

Trip Preparation Timeline – schedule of deadlines for things to be done prior to departure
The Packing List – a series of checklists for the trip (including camping gear, personal items, and equipment)
Tips for successful trips – a list of things to remember when preparing a trip, camping, hiking, or other wilderness activity

And here are a few external links that can be helpful:

Passport to National Parks program – record your visits (could be interesting if we are visiting a bunch of parks during the trip)
America the Beautiful passes – annual pass for the national parks – costs $80 but covers entrance to all parks for the 3 of us – we should determine if it is worth buying for this trip as we will be visiting several parks…