Welcome to the third post in the Domestic Tourists November Blog Series at Createyou86. Are you good with directions? I'm not at all....in fact i would say i am terrible with directions, so this post will be all about how we planned, and mapped our trip. We will let you in on the little things we did to help us manage planning our cross-country trip without pulling our hair out, and how you can too.
1. Map Your Route
This couldn't be more important. In order to plan a trip you need to have a map of where you are going (unless you have been there before). We used Google Maps to map our route out. Google maps will most times give you several different routes which allow for different types of scenery, and locations. Google maps will also let you know traffic patters, and weather you will need money for tolls For our trip we chose the southernmost route because we wanted to stay away from The Rockie Mountains, and the possibility of large amounts of snow. *The below photo is not the exact map of our trip, but i used very similar locations to make it appropriate for this post.
2. Manage Your Time
Everyone knows that driving can be tiring. In fact, it can be exhausting. One of the most important tips i can give you about planning a cross-country trip is to manage your time driving effectively, and safely. We decided that we were going to travel 600 miles per day which came out to four days of travel time. When i drove from Idaho to California it was about eight hours, and i felt like this amount of time was manageable for me to not be too tired while driving. Some days will be slightly longer depending on traffic, and distances. We also decided to make early morning starts (around 6 AM) so that we could be to the hotels well before dark (All of our hotels have a 3:00 PM check in time), and maybe even have some time to walk around the cities we are staying in.
3. Affordable Hotel Stays
If you have been to a hotel in the last few years you know that there is nothing "cheap" about hotel stays. Even lower rated hotels are charging more. Imagine traveling cross-country with two animals, and the additional charges that are added because of this, even if the hotel is animal friendly. The total of our hotel charges for our 4 days (4 hotel) trip was $250.00. Included in this total are the extra charges for the animals. You might be thinking "Yeah right....no way did you plan four nights at hotels for that cheap!" YES WE DID, and you can too! How did we do it? RESEARCH! We spent a good couple of weeks researching where we were going to stay. Don't forget that hotel prices get higher the closer to the day that you need to stay there (the same as airline flights). Be sure to call the hotels that you choose if you are traveling with pets to find out what their policy is regarding how many pets you can have in your room, and the rates that they charge per night. When i was searching for pet friendly hotels i found this awesome sight Petfriendlyhotels.com. Not all hotels allow animals so this site made it easy to find super affordable pet friendly verified hotels in any city that we were staying. The rates for animals are charged on top of any original room prices, and they vary greatly. If we had a $40.00 room there might be an additional $10.00 charge per animal per night making the overall price $60.00 (per 2 animals).
4. Check The Weather
Good weather is a key factor to traveling for any trip. We have been checking long term forecasts for about a month. You want to be sure that you are aware of any major storms that may be in the area of your trip so you can plan accordingly. You also want to be aware of the weather so that you can plan what you will pack in your overnight bag. You want to make sure you are comfortable when driving long distances.
5. Comfort Is Key
I can't tell you how many times i have been driving, and part of the way through my drive i realize that the outfit i am wearing is completely uncomfortable. You aren't going to a fashion show, you are traveling 2,690.5 miles cross-country, and being comfortable is essential. If i could wear yoga pants everywhere...i would. Comfy pants are perfect for driving. Be sure that you won't be needing to adjust yourself, and if you do need to there are always rest stops to get changed in.
6. Hunger Pangs?
When planning any long term trip make sure to pack some food with you. Not only will this save money from not having to stop, and order fast food, but it will keep you from wasting unnecessary time. YOu will probably even have leftovers that will last the rest of possibly the month. We have pre-purchased some food ahead of time. We purchased snacks such as multi packs of chips (ones that you could put in a lunchbox two 20 packs for $10.00), and crackers. We will go shopping the day before we leave, and grab some granola bars, pop tarts, and even some bread, and peanut butter (peanut butter does not need to be refrigerated after opening). However, if we get sick of just snacking, and want something more substantial we have been saving coupons from our favorite fast food restaurants that we might see along the way. James is lucky i'm a cheap date (i love ordering from the dollar menu at fast food restaurants).
We hope you have enjoyed these simple tips that helped us map out, and organize our cross-country trip, and keep it affordable and non-stressful.
What is your best travel tip? Let us know in the comments below!