Road Trip Planners: No More Roughing It

Road trips are hard enough, what with sitting in cramped quarters for hours on end. The horror movie trope of getting stranded somewhere with a monster of the week pales to the horrible reality of getting lost while having to deal with different personalities clashing in captivity. Thankfully, these days you can use road trip planner tools online to scout out your itinerary and routes.

The first and most obvious is to use the Google Maps road trip planner function that’s called My Maps. It’s sort of a different interface to access Google Maps and is the first search result that comes up when searching “my maps”. For the best experience, you should sign in to Google using a Gmail login. If you don’t have one, signing up is free, and it doesn’t verify personal info unless you want to enable multi-step authentication.

Once you’re signed in, any map routes you make are stored online and can be accessed through other devices, such as phones that can connect to WiFi or wireless cell data. My Maps is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it, and searching for “my maps tutorial” brings up a lot of videos and articles with pictures that explain it much better.

Before you get to the point of needing exact routes, however, you first need to figure out where you’re going and where you’re staying.

Social media is the perfect place to get inspiration. There are travel blogs and travel planner sites that cater to frequent travelers. These sites show images of popular places to go on a road trip to, whether it’s across the US and Canada or through continental Europe. The benefit of these sites is often they have their writers actually travel there or were started by road trip enthusiasts themselves, and the accommodations and locations they recommend are ones they can review from personal experience. There are also online video content creators who specialize in travel, offering a more intimate and visceral preview of popular destinations.

There are also apps that help the process of planning a road trip. A few out there explicitly specialize as road trip planner aides. Less obvious than these though are apps that you already use in your day-to-day life.

For example, use apps that provide crowd-sourced reviews on businesses to find places to stay, places to eat, and places to use as rest stops. There are also apps dedicated to finding private owners that rent out their living spaces, apps that estimate how much gas you’ll need on the way, and apps that detail hiking trails or national parks that can be great places to explore in person.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Before committing to be stuck with the same people that you hopefully love in a car for hours on end, you can take a lot of the guesswork of road trips out by planning out your itinerary in advance through various road trip planner tools found online.

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