The freedom of the open road, rest stops, and roadside stands; all the best things to look forward to when going on a road trip. But where do you start? This post will help you pick a destination, decide what to pack, and explain how to start planning a road trip with Google Maps.
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Planning Your Road Trip
Pick a Destination
The first part of planning your road trip is picking a destination. Are you going to do a National Park road trip? Maybe a road trip from the bustling city in New York to the beautiful beaches of Florida? Take into consideration how long of a trip you want to take. If you have small children you will probably want to choose a shorter trip or one with plenty of stops along the way.
Choose Route/ Plan Stops
I made these two steps into one because they can be interchangeable. If you know you want to stop somewhere specific you may need to choose a certain route or you can choose the route first and then add in your stops along that route. Take your time and Google different routes and stops.
If you are going on a super long road trip you might consider stopping overnight to sleep. There are endless options when it comes to road trips. Do you just have one destination in mind or will you be stopping at 4 different places on the way to your destination? Trip Advisor has a great resource page for choosing different road trip itineraries in the United States.
Planning a Road Trip with Google Maps
Once you have your route and stops picked out you can add them into google maps. Keep in mind you are only allowed 10 points on the map but you can create multiple maps. So, for example, if you are doing a 4-day road trip and each day has multiple stops you are able to create a new map for each day. Google maps does not have a save option, unfortunately, but don’t worry. You can send the directions to your email or text them to your phone and pull them up whenever you need them. There is also the option to print them, which I highly recommend. Getting lost without service is the worst, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I also recommend downloading the Google Maps app. You can’t navigate Google Maps on your phone without the app. There are also some other features like saving places you want to visit, starring places you loved, and saving your favorite places. I did this while in Germany. We had to park our car in a garage in downtown Munich and I saved the address so we could find it again without getting lost.
Here is an example of a map I made using Google Maps. This is from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Port St. Lucie, Florida. (I wouldn’t usually stop at all these places along the way, I just placed 10 stops along the route as an example.)
Consider Your Vehicle
Deciding whether to use your vehicle or rent one is absolutely something to consider. If you are doing a long road trip you may not want to put the miles on your car. If you will be road-tripping in the mountains you might want something with 4 wheel drive and more room for camping equipment. This is a personal choice but something that needs to be considered before going on your adventure. Just remember if you do choose to rent that you get insurance coverage in case something happens to the car while you are on your trip.
What to Pack
Cash and Credit Cards
- It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when driving.
Spare Tire/Tire Iron/ Jack Stand
- The last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.
First Aid Kit
Depending on Weather:
GPS (Phone or actual GPS)
Paper Maps (Just in case you lose service)
Paper Directions or Directions screenshot on your phone
Google Maps App (Downloaded)
Any other Navigation App you use
- Ever drive with someone who likes it really cold? Bringing a blanket will save you from fighting over the controls.
- In case you need to take a nap in the car.
- I don’t know about you but I always take my shoes off during road trips and like to have cozy socks to wear.
Food and Drink
- It’s important to stay hydrated but just remember the more water you drink the more bathroom stops you will need. My favorite one is here. It keeps your water cold for hours!
- Perfect for keeping your coffee warm.
- I always bring a cooler. It’s nice to have other drinks besides water and if you make sandwiches or bring veggies to snack on they will stay cold. This is the best cooler EVER!
- Snacks are a must! I am a huge snacker so I bring trail mix, sandwiches, chips, candy, protein bars, and veggies. This will also save you money.
Portable WIFI (If you think you won’t have service)
- Just make sure to have them downloaded in case you don’t have service in some spots
- Any medications you take regularly and make sure to have Tylenol, Benadryl, and nausea medicine. I also like to have Emergen-C . It’s easily added to your water or you can bring the gummies. It gives you a burst of energy while helping your immune system.
Reusable Tote Bag-
- You can use this for all sorts of things. Keeping all your snacks in one spot or taking some food to a picnic table at the rest stop for a lunch break.
- Definitely need some of these to keep all your trash in one spot so it can easily be tossed when you stop.
And of course, the luggage that you packed for your destination.
Need some inspo? Here are 15 Road Trip Quotes to inspire your trip.
It seems like a lot of things to bring but I promise when you’re driving for hours you don’t want to have to keep stopping because you forgot something. Planning and using Google Maps will help you plan the perfect road trip. Where are you going on your next road trip?
This blog post is very detailed and really prepares you for planning your road trip. I especially liked how you tied it all together with the packing list.
Thanks so much! I want to have everything in one place so you can plan your road trip easier.
This is a really good post! I’m currently planning a Utah road trip out west and google maps has been my best friend!!
Yay, that’s so exciting! I hope you have a great time.
Awesome! I needed a perfect packing list and this is it! Thanks for posting
Thanks so much, Erika. Glad I could help.
Awesome planning tips! I think a lot of people are going to be focusing on road trips this year and this is super handy. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much! I’m glad I can help people in their planning.
Firstly I can’t wait to go on road trips again!
This is a great list! I love planning road trips but also I love just going with the flow. My partner and I do that a lot.. but in saying that we have been stuck without maps and no cell service so probably not smart! Next time maybe I’ll plan the points and send it to my email like you said just incase! Haha!
I can’t wait either! I think I may plan one for later this year. I have been lost without service many times and it is not fun haha
This is a great post with so many awesome tips. Road Trips are my FAVORITE! And I’m also a major planner of road trips and love using google maps! 🙂 thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for reading, Jordan! Road trips really are the best!
The combo of Google Maps and Trip Advisor is awesome! Can’t wait to plan a long getaway soon! With fuzzy socks of course!
Haha yes, fuzzy socks are a must! Thanks so much for reading, Jen.
I didn’t know you could do that with Google Maps, cool! Thanks for all the great tips! I am ready to go!!!
Thanks for reading, Cathy! Google Maps is really helpful when planning a trip.
It looks like road trips are going to be the thing this summer so these tips have perfect timing. And I always love a good checklist so I don’t forget anything. I’m getting ready to start planning an adventure for July.
Yes, I cant wait to finally go on a road trip. I live by lists. I cant do anything without one.
I had no idea it was possible to add more than one destination at a time in google maps! This is awesome… thank you🙌🏻
Thanks so much for reading! It definitely helps when planning a trip.
This is a great post. We are heading on a road trip soon, and this is extra helpful. I love the packing list as well.
Thanks so much, Keri! Have a fun road trip!