The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide
Where are all the good road trip planning resources?!
Recently, I was trying to plan a road trip up north and I realized something strange. There weren’t many road trip resources online. At least not many good ones. Or ones that have been updated since 1996. But I felt like something had to be out there. So I scoured the web, asked around in forums, and tried to find the best road trip planning resources on the web. After a more thorough search, there were actually quite a few that I would deem “good.” And not just websites, but there were also tools, apps, and people/brands contributing to the road trip and travel lifestyle.
Since I’m weird and can’t just put everything in a bookmark folder (the easy thing to do), I decided to take all the resources I found, and put them together into one neat, easy-to-read, organized list.
I call it:
THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP PLANNER INTERNET RESOURCE GUIDE
Below, broken into categories, are the top resources online to help plan your ultimate road trip. As new ones pop up, I’ll be sure to update this list. If you know of other resources that provide readers with awesome road trip and travel content, feel free to suggest them in the comments below!
THE OBVIOUS: These are the big resources you should already know about. But if you don’t, start using them now. They’ll make your travel planning a whole lot easier.
- Yelp – Crowd-sourced reviews for businesses and attractions.
- Trip Advisor – Reviews for travel destinations.
- Lonely Planet – Travel guides! Make sure to check out their Thorn Tree travel forum.
- Expedia – Book hotels, flights, cars, and more.
- Kayak – Book hotels, flights, cars, and more.
- SkyScanner – Find the cheapest flight. Can also book hotels and cars.
- AAA – Roadside assistance and travel services for its members.
- Hertz – Rent a car.
- ZipCar – Rent a car. Able to pay by the hour.
- Air BnB – Rent out a room, home, or apartment from local hosts.
WEBSITES: This next section is websites. I tried to keep it to resources that have the best information on cool places to see, routes to take, and general road tripping tips.
Oh, and most of these resources are for U.S. road trips only. Sorry, everyone else in the world.
Updated regularly, Roadtrippers features great places to visit from the strange to the beautiful. They have a fantastic trip planner, but their articles also give readers thorough information and inspiration about the most scenic driving routes to the scariest ghost towns. Roadtrippers is king.
RoadTrip America is another good all around website. Full of travel tips, routes, interactive maps, and forums, it has your bases covered for your road trip needs.
Although it looks like they haven’t updated their website since 1996, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Roadside America also has some great content. You’ll find some of the best offbeat attractions here. I especially like how you can sort your search by state.
PLANNING FUN ROAD TRIPS
Another website that may be going for the pre-Y2k look. Planning Fun Road Trips offers tips, planners, and best ofs. This site will get you up to speed quickly if you’re planning your first road trip.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICES
If you have national parks in your road trip plans, you’ll want to remember this website. The NPS has information on every national park in each state with the information you need from park fees and hours to maps and suggested itineraries.
USA.GOV – TRAVEL AND TOURISM SITES FOR ALL 50 STATES
Just what the title says- a fantastic page that links to all of the tourism websites for each US state and territory. Pick a state and find things to do right away.
When you first open up Atlas Obscura, it’s evident that the people behind it like to explore and like to have a good time. I like the fun, personal vibe of the website and I like that it’s easy to navigate. What are you looking for? Ghost towns in California? Atlas Obscura will give you a list of places to visit, a map of where they are, and then a personal article about that location. Whenever I visit the site I usually stumble across some pretty bizarre and cool places to check out. Atlas Obscura is a new find I’m very excited about!
Are you looking for trip advice, trying to find a travel partner, or just itching to read a cool road trip story? Reddit has got you covered. Here are some of my favorite subreddits for road trips and traveling.
TOOLS: Here’s a list of the online tools that will help make your money-calculating and route-choosing worries go away.
ROAD TRIP CALCULATOR
Punch in your estimated or actual costs for rental prices, gas, hotels, and daily budget, and the road trip calculator will come up with your total. It’s a simple way to see where most of your money is going and whether or not you can squeeze in another night of travel.
DISCOVER AMERICA ROAD TRIP PLANNER
Discover America’s road trip planner is one of my favorites. Not only does it allow you to plot a point from A to B, but it lets you add and subtract attractions that are on the route. For example, if you’re taking a trip across the country, you can “turn on” museums and campgrounds and “turn off” shopping centers and airports. You can even turn on Instagram photos so a person’s travel photos will pop up along your route. Add any attraction to your itinerary straight from the map. Discover America’s road trip planner is definitely worth trying out.
THE OPTIMAL ROAD TRIP ACROSS THE US
If you’re looking to road trip all 48 states in one go and you want the perfect route, look no further. Randy (great name!) Olson created the most optimal and efficient route using an algorithm. The trip makes stops in each state at a national park, historic site, or other interesting landmark. Check out the link above to read more about the algorithm and chosen attractions.
FREETRIP – TRIP ROUTE PLANNER
There are some people who just want a basic, printable, easy-to-read trip planner. Although rare in the age of smart phones with maps and travel apps, this is a basic route planning site that lets you choose a few route options (favoring scenic routes, avoiding tolls, estimating fuel costs, etc), press submit, and receive a bare-bones itinerary. It’s old school, but if that’s your thing, take a look at this resource.
BLOGS: Of course this section will naturally be more subjective, I tried to choose blogs that not only inspired and entertained, but also provided some type of informational content.
Here are some of my favorite blogs to check out:
CALIFORNIA THROUGH MY LENS
California Through My Lens gives readers a taste of California through the eyes of Josh, a man “addicted to adventure.” It’s incredible how many places this one guy has visited in California. All of his guides and articles are full of detail and include fantastic pictures. If every state had someone as awesome as Josh road tripping and sharing cool places, the states wouldn’t need tourism websites! If you’re heading to California, check out CaliforniaThroughMyLens.
Not exactly a “road tripper,” but I’d say he has enough travel under his belt to give you some awesome advice and travel inspiration. Matt is what I would call a “travel hacker” – someone who finds the cheapest, easiest, and most efficient way travel. He has a range of articles from Africa travel tips, to best gear, to how to save money for a big trip. Nomadic Matt is another travel blogging king.
MIDLIFE ROAD TRIP
Instead of having a midlife crisis Rick and Sandi are on a midlife road trip. They’re traveling the world, checking things off their bucket list, and driving around in a Weinermobile (well, not always. Unfortunately). Adventurous, fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their website is full of good information, but it’s definitely more on the entertainment side!
Wandering Earl is one of the most popular travel bloggers on the internet. He set out on a three-month trip to Asia and hasn’t stopped traveling since. He blogs about his adventures and struggles, offers tips and information, and even has his own resource books and tours. This guy is making a living off being a permanent nomad and there’s plenty to learn.
WORLD OF WANDERLUST
Brooke is another blogger who travels the world full time. And although you may take one look and say “Oh no, just another pretty girl traveling the world,” she’s built a pretty impressive online presence. Her website is full of quick tips, reviews, and travel stories. And she’s amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on her social media accounts. Her content is geared more towards girls in their teens and twenties, but even if you don’t fit that demographic, you can still probably find something you relate to.
I like Liz. No, I don’t actually know her. But it looks like she hustles, and I respect that. Her website is about her own adventures around the world. She’s been doing it for years and her articles give her readers tips, advice, and personal anecdotes about travel. So, no, not exactly road tripping, but I’m confident you’ll be inspired by her drive, her excellent writing style, her travel stories, her photographs, and her rad sense of adventure.
APPS: Remember when people used to use real, paper maps? No? Me neither. I can’t imagine getting around without the map app in my phone. Although some of the apps built in the name of convenience are just plain ridiculous, some of the ones built in the name of travel are just plain awesome.
Here are some of my favorite travel apps:
- GAS BUDDY – Find the cheapest gas station nearby.
- iEXIT – Tells you what’s at upcoming exits on your route.
- TROVER – Instagram/Pinterest style photo-travel app. Great for finding hidden gems in big cities or interesting places along the way.
- ROADTRIPPERS – Find cool places, plan trips, save itineraries. Great interface and easy to use.
- FIELD TRIP – Be notified automatically when you get close to something cool. Find food, drinks, historic spots, and unique attractions just by being nearby.
- YONDER – Choose an outdoor activity you’re interested in, choose your location, and find places where you can do that activity around you. Connect with others and share tips and photos.
- DAY ONE – A nicely designed app for journaling. Record the cool things you see or do on your road trip. Add pictures too.
- ROAD TRIP LITE – Great app to track your car mileage and fuel economy.
- YELP – Find any type of restaurant, attraction, or even a mechanic based on category and location. Read reviews and see pictures from other users.
- TRIPIT – Tripit take all your travel plans and confirmation emails (hotel and car reservations, for example) and creates a neat itinerary saved in one place.
- RV PARKY – RV PARKS AND MORE – Find RV parks, campgrounds and more with the RV Parky app. It also shows what amenities are at each site such as electricity, water, picnic tables, price, etc.
- BUTU – Unfortunately the app hasn’t been updated in awhile (I almost didn’t put it on the list), but I like how you just tell it where you are and it will suggest where you should go and what you should see.
- MAPS.ME – Offline maps. Download the map of your destination, and then use it when you don’t have wifi or data access.
PEOPLE ON TWITTER
Do you like knowing where people are and what they’re doing every second of every day? Follow these people on Twitter then. Oh, and there are some brands that give good travel information on this list, too.
PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM
Fun Instagram accounts that deal with travel (in no particular order). Get inspired. These photos are sweeeeeeeet!
MISCELLANEOUS: This section is for the resources that don’t really fit in the other categories.
TV FOOD MAPS
Do you like watching those food travel shows? Want to visit those same restaurants? TV Food Maps has put together a website that lists every restaurant organized by show. You can also explore by state or location and create your own road trip! A great resource for the serious foodie.
Just looking for good places to eat on the road? Road Food helps you find great local restaurants nearby. My favorite section is the Self-Guided Eating Tours.
And that’s it!
The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide. As I mentioned above, I will continue to edit this list as I find more or better resources.
If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments section below. If you already use some of these resources, I’d love to know which ones. If you hate any of these resources or just want to complain, also feel free to let me know in the comments section below.
Go trip yourself!
-Road Trip Randy