Road trips can be exciting. If you've packed your bags, dressed the kids, bought supplies, and locked the house, you can really relish the freedom of just driving down the highway to a great destinations anywher over the country. You can either be spontaneous, or you can have a plan. Either way, it pays to have some preparation before you actually get in the car and step on the gas. Why not check out a road trip planner to see what destinations you can visit, how you can get there, and what it takes to get there?
A road trip planner will help you plot out your course on the road. There are several popular planners, such as AAA, Yahoo! Trip Planner, Rand McNally, Mapquest and TravMatix. While these offer different features, and varying levels of localization, their salient features are essentially similar. No matter what road trip planner you use, here are a few important points:
- Origin and Destination. The first questions that road trip planners ask you are where you're coming from, and where you're going. Therefore, it's essential to know what exactly you want to do on your trip. Are you planning to go to any specific place in the country (or to other countries)? Or are you planning to plot the trip as you go along. But first, tell the road trip planner where you're coming from. Some planners even give nice suggestions on where you can go.
- Routes defined. Your route will then be defined. Most road trip planners use an online map or satellite imagery with road information overlaid. Some even use Google Maps! Once you've identified both origin and destination, the planner will then plot your course on the onscreen map. The instructions will display distance information. You can switch from metric to English measurements, depending on preference.
- Instructions and Stopovers. The route planner will then describe what roads you should take, where to turn, what signs to look out for, and how long the expected duration of that leg is. Most route trip planners will already give recommendations as to where you can stop over for rest, lodging or food along the way. It's also important to note the refilling stations along the way, especially if your trip involves going through rural areas.
- Check options and features. Route planners like AAA give you the option to avoid motorways, avoid congested roads, and even display traffic trends and information along your route. For a stress free road trip, check these options, so you can be given alternative routes, or so the planner can schedule your trip to avoid the rush hours.
- Print! Lastly, the trip planner will let you print out your route map and the step by step instructions. Let this be your guide along your road trip, but you shouldn't necessarily stick to it 100%. A road trip is all about enjoyment and adventure. And as the saying goes, it's not the destination that counts, but the journey. So enjoy your road trip!