Route 66 may no longer appear on most maps, but road tripping is as popular as ever. In this guide you’ll find all the resources you need to plan a trip that’s as smooth as a freshly paved highway. Get ideas, maps and even a list of the 50 greatest driving songs of all time.
Just because Jack Kerouac hit the road without a plan doesn’t mean you should. If you have aspirations beyond stargazing in a cornfield, use the sites below to select both your destination and your en route activities.
- These sites can help you brainstorm your own itinerary and learn about popular road trip routes. The best thing about road trip vacations is that any plan you read about can be easily customized to fit your needs (or whims).
- If you’re looking to visit a specific destination or region and you can’t find it on any of the sites below, try doing a search for the town or area and include “road trip” or “activities” as part of your search term. You might find some useful information, or a great site like this one that talks about road tripping opportunities near Fayetteville, North Carolina.
For general road trips …
offers a page listing articles about road tripping. Browse the articles to see the possibilities for various themed and seasonal trips, and find the tools you need to execute your plan.
“Travel” section offers this brief article accompanied by a slideshow on “10 Great American Road Trips.” Read a brief description of each and check out the striking photos that are sure to make you want to hit the accelerator.
Road Trip America
is essentially an online smorgasbord for road trip information. Part guide, part library, part fan club, Road Trip America litters its homepage with articles and trip ideas. Don’t be deterred by the cutter; the navigation bar at the top of the page clearly outlines resources that make it possible to find what you need.
Road Trip Dream
is the site of a retired couple that has road tripped through all 50 states. They’ve written about their experience and offer lots of resources on the site—some free, some for a fee. Use the “10 Tips To Jump-Start Your Road Trip Dream” article as a catalyst for concocting your ideal vacation.
For road trips in specific regions …
has plenty of road trips already planned. Choose your desired region to find pre-planned road trips, or get help designing your own.
Travel South USA
offers “Real South Road Trips.” Find packages for driving tours available for sale, including itineraries and modest hotel accommodations. If you don’t want to book one of these packages, use the site to generate ideas.
, a Hearst-owned Albany-based newspaper, hosts an article called “The ultimate New England road trip” that describes a route taking travelers south from the wilds of Vermont through picturesque Western Massachusetts.
For Route 66 …
Legends of America
provides an ultimate guide to Route 66. Some of the sections are more useful than others; if you’re seriously planning a road trip, you probably don’t need to visit the T-shirt or bumper sticker sections. Instead, read about the history, activities and sights along the way, or find links to each state’s Route 66 history site.
Historic Route 66
is a site devoted to guiding your travel on the legendary road. The site itself looks pretty historic, but you can get a state-by-state online map and driving directions of how to traverse the road (it’s not on new maps). Also check out the slideshow, or if you’re inclined, buy the “EZ66 Guide for Travelers
” that includes directions, maps and suggested activities.
For road trips to U.S. landmarks …
editors selected their top 10 road trips to U.S. landmarks. Find destinations like the Las Vegas Strip and Niagara Falls, along with links to complete guides with attraction information and recommendations for hotels and restaurants nearby.
For sports road trips …
is your shabbily designed “source for sports travel.” Learning how to cook shrimp on an engine en route to a game may or may not appeal to you, but you’ll certainly benefit from comprehensive league schedules, chances to buy tickets and hotel information. Don’t miss the list of nationwide stadiums
with seating charts and parking information.
For online trip planners …
has a “TripMaker Planning Tool” to get your road trip in gear. Select your starting point and destination to get maps and driving directions. Add stops to your trip and the TripMaker selects activities and places as you go along. Save or print your trip, and make notes to yourself on the site. Also use Rand McNally’s online maps and mobile phone maps, or buy paper maps from the site.
is another useful Web site (though with an amateur design) that serves as an interactive trip planner specifically for road trips in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah, as well as in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Yukon, Canada.
is a simply designed and useful site, especially for finding accommodations on a long trip. Select your departure and destination towns, whether you want to avoid tolls or take the scenic route, and the kind of lodging you prefer (choose from hotels within a price range, camping grounds or national parks). You can even select rest stops. Submit your form and FreeTrip outlines your route and lists all the facilities that fit your criteria along the way.
Web site recaps a film it broadcasted in 2003 called “Horatio’s Drive.” Read about this first transcontinental road trip, learn about the driver and the car, and view an interactive map of the trip.
Although road trips have a strong presence in media and pop culture, following in the footsteps (or tire marks) of Chevy Chase is not going to get you anywhere. For practical information such as how to clean your engine, keep the kids busy in the back seat, or keep the driver awake, explore the sites below.
- If you’re looking to buy a car, do maintenance on your current car or prepare it for a road trip, there are a few sites for car care below, and many more in the findingDulcinea Cars Web Guide.
- Membership in AAA can be very useful in case of an emergency. Check out the site, listed below, for more information.
For general advice …
The Morning News
archives contain this light but charming advice on “How to Road Trip.” Author Leslie Harpold doesn’t help you find a hotel or fix a flat tire, but she offers suggestions for conversation and etiquette guidelines, and promises you that it’s ok to ask for directions.
For car packing and comfort …
article on “How to pack the trunk” for a road trip shows you how to organize your stuff to make the most of precious trunk space.
has a guide to keeping your car smelling nice during a road trip. It has little tips for managing the cleanliness of your vehicle, and advice on what substances you should bring to clean spills and accidents.
For stuff to do on the road …
has an article devoted to editors’ recommendations for road trip technology. Whether you’re looking for a navigation system, a camera or a way to watch movies en route, you’ll find top choices here.
is your guide to the nation's oddball, quirky and often peculiar roadside tourist attractions. If you're in Connecticut, check out Norwich's "Sanctuary of Love," or Willimantic's "Giant Frogs on Thread Spools." Consider a diversion to one such location to keep your trip fresh.
, a rather elaborate board game combining Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit and charades, offers some ideas for makeshift games you can play on the road by bringing just a few supplies in a backpack.
For car repairs and maintenance …
Road & Travel Magazine’s
Web site has an Automotive Channel with several categories that can answer all your questions (and provoke some you didn’t think of) about your car. Find information on car care, crash ratings and general advice.
has a “Car Care Basics” guide full of road trip tips. Find suggestions for things you should check on your car before you start your road trip, and things to be aware of while you’re driving.
Berklee College of Music
posts the top 50 driving songs as named by a songwriting faculty member. The list is a bit dated—it goes from 1963 to 1984—but most of the songs are classics you’ll recognize and enjoy.
Although stopping to ask for directions every mile might help you meet more people on your trip, it’ll slow you down considerably (and not in that good, “we-took-the-scenic-route” kind of way). Instead, use the sites below to find online maps and customized driving directions, purchase road maps, or even turn your cell phone into a navigation device.
- If you’re taking a long road trip, you may not want to rely solely on online maps. A really good road atlas goes into greater detail and is nice to have aboard in case you stray from your intended path. We recommend the “American Map 2008 United States Road Atlas.” This atlas is spiral bound for easy browsing; has road maps of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico along with inset maps of major U.S. cities; as well as mileage and driving times covering the entire area between central Canada and central Mexico.
- Gas stations almost always sell local maps that usually list smaller roads not found on more general maps. If you plan to stay in a town for a few days, consider buying a map to foster your exploration.
- Some sites that calculate driving directions, such as MapQuest and GoogleMaps, let you choose your route based on certain preferences, such as avoiding tolls, or avoiding main roads.
For driving directions …
supplies online maps, driving directions and even local gas prices for any address or intersection you choose. Don’t miss the various features available for your mobile phone, which are free for most Web-enabled phones.
is an alternative to MapQuest. Although it lacks some of the functionality of MapQuest, the interface is cleaner and easier to navigate, which for some is a boon. Pinpoint domestic and international addresses, or get detailed directions for your next trip. Check out the satellite feature on the upper right for a bird's-eye view of your house, locations along your road trip route or your destination.
For online and print maps …
, arguably one of the biggest names in maps, offers you online maps, driving directions and a trip planner. Visit their store to purchase maps to take with you on the road.
, another major map company, sells maps and atlases on the site.
Road Trip America
recommends a number of top maps and road atlases. Once you’ve planned your trip, see which map suits you best.
AAA may be able to help you out in a real emergency, but if you’re more interested in friendly advice, check out the blogs of some fellow travelers. You’ll find good stories, and probably some good ideas.
- To find more road trip blogs consider searching for the phrase “road trip” on a blog-hosting site like TravelPod or RealTravel.
- Maps supplement most road trip travel blogs, but they’re more for aesthetic value than for practical purposes. If you’re going to take one of the trips you read about, visit the “Maps for Road Tripping” section of this guide.
are two women who met at Boston University and started taking a lot of road trips together. Although the site is a bit old, the Roadchix documented all their trips with a journal, photos and a budget. Read about what they did along the way, and get some ideas and tips for planning your own trip.
started as one man’s personal travel ”scrapbook” but now serves as a jumping off point for those who wish to follow in his footsteps. Find a list of the road trips he’s taken on the homepage and select one you’d like to follow. Each trip’s page has a map, several pictures, descriptions of the journey and tips.
hosts this blog of a British father and son touring the west coast of the United States over 15 days.
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