The Best USA Road Trip Planner for boomer travelers
Updated 07.28.2018. Baby boomers and U.S. road trips are a natural combination. Most of us grew up taking summer vacations in the family car. Now that we’re empty nesters and mostly retired, it’s time to revisit America’s scenic places on boomer road trips on slow journeys filled with old favorites or new discoveries.
This USA Road Trip Planner introduces you to our road trip philosophy as well as road trip tips from our years of exploring scenic roads and off-the-beaten destinations in the U.S. We also share favorite road trip planning resources and gear.
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Tips for Planning USA Road Trips
When I see Alan sitting at the kitchen table with maps spread out in front of him (yes, we still use paper maps), I know there’s a potential road trip in the works. Once we agree on the route that Alan has planned, I arrange the accommodations. Of course we also research what to see and do with online research and reading guidebooks.
Finding the best place to stay on the road
We like to stay in bed and breakfasts for their intimacy and connection to the local scene, as well as the opportunity to meet other travelers. I start my research by checking out the b&b’s website, if they have one. Then I read online reviews—ignore the best and worst reviews to find the true story. I also compare prices, especially when looking for hotels, inns and lodges.
A couple of boomer road trip tips: when booking hotels on busy interstates, ask for the quietest room away from traffic noise. Park your vehicle so that its visible from your room. Theft happens. And if you’re staying in a bed and breakfast or inn, especially over a weekend, inquire if the property will be hosting a wedding. That’s a no-no for us.
Staying healthy and safe on a road trip
With all the sitting that a road trip requires, you’ll want to read our tips for staying healthy on the road. Wearing a fitness tracker is another good idea. It might inspire you to walk around the gas station parking lot before continuing your journey.
Being prepared is the best way to stay safe on the road. If you’re roadtripping on a cold weather trip, reading Alan’s tips for making a do it yourself winter driving kit is a must.
Choosing a road trip itinerary
When creating road trip itineraries, we avoid the interstate as much as possible in favor of two-lane highways or country roads. When the map shows a dotted road, Alan and I know we’re in for a scenic ride.
Need itinerary ideas? Check Boomer Road Trips for the road trip articles that we’ve published—from our experiences and those of guest writers. You’ll find inspiration for US road trips, covering the Florida Keys, Alaska Highway, California, New Mexico, Georgia’s Golden Isles and more.
When it comes to European road trips, we take you to southern Italy, northern Italy, Spain, France, and the Baltic. And we’re always adding, new destinations.
But who says a road trip has to be a long, drawn-out journey? Sometimes you just want to go on a quick, beautiful drive. You’ll find those in our favorite scenic drives.
And Our Tips for Planning a Fall Road Trip will help you prepare for a glorious, leaf-peeping road adventure!
Online USA Road Trip Resources
Whether you’re planning a road trip in the USA or an international destination, online travel resources equal instant information at your fingertips. But we’ve found that too much information complicates research rather than speeding it up. That’s why you’ll find only the best online resources in our USA Road Trip Travel Resources. Bookmark our favorites for your boomer travel planning. We’ve also included favorite apps.
The travel inspiration at Roadtrippers will keep you occupied for hours. What we like: a free trip planner that syncs with our smartphone, interesting guides and the Roadtrippers app is free, too (but includes in-app purchase).
Travel apps can make a great trip even better. Read our recommendations for best road trip apps.
We could get lost in the scenic drives and destination ideas suggested by the Federal Highway Administration at America’s Byways. Alan would like to drive every one of them!
Sometimes you need to find a place to stay pronto. Hotels Combined offers quick hotel searches for availability and price comparisons.
You’ll find planning tools like a fuel calculator and a map wizard at RoadTrip America. There’s also an active forum. Registration is required to use most of the resources.
Don’t let road construction or delays mess up your trip. Be in the know by checking U.S. Department of Transportation’s website, National Traffic and Road Closure Information, before you go. The Department of Transportation in each state is also a helpful resource.
Once you plan your itinerary, use theNational Register of Historic Places to find interesting historical sites to visit along the way.
When we want to do some online road trip dreaming, we click on over to Photo Gallery of U.S. Road Trips from National Geographic.
Don’t forget to check out more of our tips at our Road Trip Travel Planning Guide!
USA road trip books and guides
Although we do most of our research online, Alan and I still enjoy holding an atlas or photo book in our hands. And we’re big believers in taking an atlas on our road trips. After all, we don’t always find internet in those remote two-lane roads or off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways: Want to travel off-the-beaten-path along two-lane highways in the U.S.? This book is for you.
Benchmark Atlas: When we’re traveling the western U.S., Benchmark is the atlas for us. This comprehensive reference includes highways, roads, forest roads, hiking trails and more. Available for Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Rand McNally Road Atlas: If we’re not traveling in the western U.S., Rand McNally is our go-to atlas.
The Most Scenic Drives in America: Daydream about your next road trip with the 120 suggestions in this book.
Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting: In our opinion, road trips and off-the-beaten-path destinations go together. Read our review of Off the Beaten Path to see if this book fits your road trip travel plans.
The Milepost: Driving the Alaska Highway is the ultimate U.S. road trip. But don’t leave home without The Milepost. This well-rounded publication gives locals and visitors a lot of insight into driving Alaska and the Far North. A great resource!
Road trip gear for your next trip
TechMatte ProGrip Universal Windshield Car Mount Holder/Cradle (Black) for Smart Phones: Works for Apple iPhone 5S/5C/5/4S/4, Samsung Galaxy S5/S4/S3/S2, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 920 and Note 3.0. Comes with a free 360-Degree Rotating Car Mount Dashboard Disk.
Driving gloves: Keeps hands from slipping on the steering wheel. Great for summer driving in hot regions of the U.S.
AAA 65-Piece Winter Severe Weather Travel Kit: Although it’s designed for cold weather, many of the items in this auto travel kit can be used year round, especially the emergency first aid kit. If you think this is overkill, go for the regular AAA Emergency Road Assistance Kit.
Have we given you enough ideas for planning your next road trip in the USA? Check back as we continue to update our resources and advice so that you have the best boomer travel experiences possible.