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How do I plan my US Road Trip?

This is how my husband and I plan our annual two week US road trip. We watch an episode of Man Vs. Food.  Salivate.  Google the restaurant.  Then go, ‘that’s it, we’re going to <insert US State>’.

Lulu's Cinnamon BunThis Cinnamon Roll from Lulu’s inspired our 2012 Texas Road Trip

Choosing the state is easy.  But then what?  Where do we go?  How do we get there?

I have two small kids and resources online seem endless.  I have to go on the assumption I might not visit the state again and of course, we need to visit all the featured Man Vs. Food restaurants.

Tripadvisor

At this point, I turn to the incredible resource that is Tripadvisor.  I don’t know who these anonymous ‘city specialists’ are but they are wonderful.  I posted a question in the Colorado forum asking for suggestions on an itinerary and I was blown away by the information I received.  Not just a quick roundup but an itinerary with maps, hotel suggestions, trip ideas.  Brilliant.

Booking a hotel

I then continue with my Tripadvisor addiction to pick a hotel (assume caution but you can spot the fakes).  If like me, you find Tripadvisor an invaluable resource then make sure you give back by reviewing the hotels you stay in.  I normally do a price comparison between Expedia and the hotel’s official website.  On a road trip, I like to have the option of a cancellable booking and often find booking through the hotel easier, especially with requesting travel cots etc.

Loyalty Points

I am the proud collector of most of the world’s hotel and airline loyalty cards.  Even if you think you might only stay in that Best Western for one night, it’s worth signing up as loyalty cards can get you late check outs, fruit bowls, upgrades etc

The Car

I thoroughly recommend you hire a car with a sat nav.  However, I also use Mapquest to work out all my driving routes/distances and print additional maps to bring along.  In terms of hiring a car, check your airline/hotel loyalty schemes first as they may offer a discount on car hire.  It’s also worth picking up the phone and negotiating with the car hire firm for further discount.

Day to Day Itinerary

One of my favourite websites for travelling with kids in the US is http://family.go.com/travel/  The site has City Guides that can be broken down by age and also hotel/restaurant suggestions.  I also go to my local library and get my hands on whatever guidebooks I can find.  I like a mix of Lonely Planet and Insight Guides.

Have you done a US road trip?  How did you pick what area to visit?

3 comments

  1. mytravelmonkey

    We LOVE Man v Food. Every time Adam goes to an amazing rib/burger joint we’ve made a note of it to visit in the future. The list is currently very long… 🙂

  2. thewanderinghome

    This is great! I’d love to plan a road trip for next year and this post is a great place to start! Do you try to plan out stops in increments to break up the time in the car?

    Found you on the SITS Saturday sharefest!

    http://www.thewanderinghome.com

  3. Rachel G

    All of our vacations were road trips around the US until we moved out of the country. I use Trip Advisor a lot, and also because I have family in 5 states I usually tried to combine roadtrips with a stop in to visit family (free housing helps cut the cost of vacation, too)

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