How to Plan an Epic Road Trip


Road trips should be fun and spontaneous yet, carefully researched and somewhat planned. Last year Brandon and I had the opportunity to road trip for an entire month. We spent nearly nine months planning, researching and preparing for our trip in which we drove through 9 states in 25 days.

How do you prepare for a trip that long? Lots of research and planning!


First, it’s best to have a good idea of where you want to go, what activities you plan on doing and the time of year you’re planning to go. Once you have a general idea of where you would like to go, the rest can somewhat fall into place with the right kind of planning.

Points of Interest: 
A point of interest, or POI, is a specific point location that someone may find useful or interesting. Make sure to research all things that interest you within that area whether you plan on visiting or not because it’s always nice to have a general idea of your surroundings.

Here are a few examples of things to research:

  •   National Parks/ State Parks

  •   Natural sites: Waterfalls & Caves

  •   Aquariums, Museums, Theaters, and Zoos

  •   “Top 10 Things to Do”

  •   Hiking Trails

  •   Restaurants, Bars, Breweries and wineries

If you’re planning a road trip, you’re more than likely planning to visit more than one place. This is where having a general knowledge of mileage and distance really helps. We use Google Maps to map out our route and navigate while on the road.

Here are a few tips to getting the most out of Google Maps:

  •    Download Maps for Off-Line Use: Prior to hitting the road, make sure you have downloaded offline maps for the areas in which you are traveling. This feature becomes very handy when driving in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no wireless connection.

  •    Share your location:  Enable Location Sharing on Google Maps to keep friends and family up to date on your whereabouts.

  •     Save favorite locations and/or POI’s: This is a fun feature that if used correctly, can be a really useful tool. Simply search on Google Maps the location in which you are trying to save and click “Save”.  All of your saved locations will then appear as stars on your map, making it easier to pinpoint.

  •    Research Distances & Use Navigation: Have a general idea of how long it will take you to get from Point A to Point B, so you can make the most of your time exploring a new area. This should be done prior to hitting the road but is also a helpful tool using the navigation, especially driving in areas of which you have never been.

Reservations & Permits:

As with all road trips and vacations, the sooner you reserve your hotel, campsite and/or wilderness permits the better and you may end up saving tons of money. Many campgrounds that require reservations, start accepting them up to 6 months in advance.  This can be a good thing for the day-to-day planner, however, if you’re not quite sticking to your daily itinerary you may find yourself ditching reservations that you made 6 months in advance.  The same goes for hotel reservations. Don’t make reservations in advance unless you know for sure that you will be within that general area. The last thing you want is to be 200 miles out from your hotel reservation while you are preparing to call it a day.

 Here are some tips when making reservations:

  •    Give yourself options. Research all hotels and campgrounds within the area to see what fits you best.

  •    If you’re planning your route based on a specific destination or trail, make reservations early and always check on cancellation policies.

  •    If you are using a wilderness permit, always be sure to confirm your permit with the ranger station prior to hitting the road.

  •    If you’re spontaneously road tripping with no destination or plan, try keeping your reservations to a minimum. You may catch yourself wanting to spend more time in a single place than others.


Odds are you have a limited amount of time, so you’ll want to make the most out of every day. Having a plan or agenda can be helpful in many ways and having a backup plan never hurts either. After doing your research, plan to make a plan and don’t worry if your plans start to change because more than likely your plans will change.

    Here are a few tips when planning:

  •    You’ll want to map out destinations to avoid wasting time going back and forth.

  •    Get creative, but don’t over-do it. Don’t make so many plans that you miss the point of traveling.

  • Allow time for things in which you have no control; such as traffic, construction, accidents, bad weather, etc.

  •    Try to experience new things. Don’t stick to your usual day to day activities. Learn more about the culture and check out some of the local events.

Now that you have a rundown on the basics for planning an epic road trip, time to start the research and planning process before packing up and hitting the road!  🚙


What are some things that you do to prepare for a road trip?

I would love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below 🙂 

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Vanessa is an outdoors enthusiast, hiker at heart, and the storyteller behind Forever She Wanders; a women's lifestyle + travel blog inspiring all to get outdoors, seek adventure and live an active lifestyle. As an outdoors enthusiast, Vanessa has found passion in being outdoors while backpacking, camping, hiking and creating memories of a lifetime.

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