this time of year is my “busy season” at work, which doesn’t leave me much time (read: no time) to travel. but i have one busy season tradition that carries me through the long hours and weekends of work: the planning of the post-busy season trip.
last weekend, dallas had the most perfect weather, so my husband and i spread out the blankets in the backyard, played some music, and brought out my atlas to plan our spring road trip. i’ve been dying to take a road trip across the southern US, and to finally visit some friends and family who live along the way. planning road trips is one of my most favorite things to do, so i thought i would share some of my tips for planning fantastic road trips:
1. start with an atlas – looking at an atlas gives me ideas for scenic detours and sites to see that i may have missed. kate spade’s travel book, places to go, people to see, mentioned that the drive from memphis, tn to vicksburg, ms is stunning, so we looked it up on the atlas. guess what’s nearby? yazoo city, home of willie morris, my husband’s favorite author. note to self: detour to yazoo city on day three. atlases will also list approximate driving times between cities, which comes in handy while planning number of days on the road.
2. stalk pinterest – set up a board for your road trip locations, and pin away as you research places to see. map traveled to nashville recently, and i pinned most of the places they went to my tennessee board. a friend at work recently gave me a magazine article on memphis, so i pinned the places that looked cool to me. pinterest provides a great way to store ideas from all over the web in one place so you don’t forget. if you’re looking for ideas on locations, check out my pinterest boards (organized by state and country) and also my road trip board for inspiration.
3. create a list on your phone – as you’re planning, you’ll hear suggestions from friends or through media that you’ll want to remember. keeping a list on your phone will help you remember those tips since you can jot them down when someone suggests a place (that’s how i remembered kate spade’s recommendation for the memphis to vicksburg drive).
4. start reading! – i love themed reading. i think this started when i read cannery road while visiting monterey, california – it brought so much life and history to the places i was seeing, that i was hooked. if you’re looking for ideas on what to read during your travels, check out book lust to go by nancy pearl – she recommends books based on your travel destinations (genius). for our road trip, i’m adding to my list john steinbeck’s travels with charley and william least heat-moon’s roads to quoz: an american mosey.
5. check out what the new york times has to say from 36 hours – i wrote an entire post on my love for 36 hours. check it out and then read it before every trip you ever take (including short business trips).
6. plan your nights – book your hotels, b&b’s, stays with friends, etc. in advance. start with your budget to understand how much to spend per night, and then see if you have any friends or family along the way that you can stay with (don’t forget to pack hostess gifts, if so). some of my favorite bookings sites are airbnb and jetsetter. don’t forget about any hotel points you may have saved up that could give you a free night (or two!) at a national chain.
7. leave room for improv – as an accountant, i like to plan down to the minute. this can make for some stressful travel experiences. one thing i’ve learned is to build in some time to improv, an extra day to go where i want, a half-day to explore a new part of the city, etc. one time while driving to LA from dallas, we saw a sign on I-40 for the petrified forest. excuse me? detour! we spent a couple of hours looking at the craziest petrified wood (how is this possible?!) before jumping back on the interstate and heading west.
stay tuned for future posts on best road trip apps, and how to pack your car for the best road trip. for now, fill me in on any of your best tips for planning road trips – i’d love to hear them!