As summertime rounds the corner, the warm weather arrives, and the days stretch long like a dog in the sun – many people’s thoughts turn towards adventure and the open road. Seize the season with this handy summer road trip planner, and plot a journey that speaks to your heart and energizes your spirit.
Step #1: Decide where you will go. Whether you have an exact destination or a general direction, the first step on your journey is figuring out where exactly it is you're heading. Bust out the map and figure out the direction of your route. Do some quick mileage searches online to determine if your estimates of travel time are accurate. Some people prefer a journey that revolves around a theme rather than a particular destination. For example, ice cream shops of New England, barbeque joints in Tennessee, or beach breaks on the California coast.
Step #2: Gather your travel buddies. Who will join you on your journey? Do you want a full car of friends, a romantic rendezvous for two, or a family trip? Perhaps you want to brave the open road alone, and enjoy total freedom in your schedule. Decide who is going with you, and get a firm commitment so that you can really dive into being a summer road trip planner.
Step #3: Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the budget, the schedule, and the pace of the trip. Will you stay in luxury hotels, or camp the entire time? Pack your schedule full of sightseeing, or sleep in every morning? Is this trip more about exploring the unknown or getting somewhere? Who will drive? How will you split the cost of gasoline? Sort out everyone’s expectations before you hit the road.
Step #4: Set the dates. For many people, work schedules determine what days off you can take. If at all possible, avoid traveling on major holidays like the Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend. Talk to your boss about taking a long weekend, and making the time up later.
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Step #5: Start the real planning. Some people relish the experience of being a summer road trip planner, from researching attractions to reading hotel reviews and booking the perfect rental car. For others, this is pure torture that never seems to end. If the latter describes you, take heart – just because you hate travel planning doesn’t mean that you can’t travel. It means that you need to hire a travel agent. Remember those? Find a local travel agent with expertise in the area you want to visit. The small fee will be well worth the time and frustration you save.
Step #6: Have a basic schedule and route planned, but keep it loose. Part of the fun of summer road tripping is that you can stop to check out weird roadside attractions, linger at a funky diner, or discover a secret waterfall. Make sure you leave enough free time in your itinerary so that you can be spontaneous. This will also leave room for snafus, forgotten jackets, and glitches in the itinerary.
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Photo by Shilo Urban