These are the resources we use to plan all our travel and outdoor adventures. We use a lot of different resources when planning an extended road trip, but these represent those that we have found to be the most user friendly as well as enabling us to get the best value on our family travel.
Just about everyone is familiar with the popular TripAdvisor so this recommendation shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, are you familiar with ALL of the features available at TripAdvisor. For a long time, I only thought of it as another Hotel shopping site, but then I discovered the travel forums, the ability to plan and save my trips by date, and the review pages. It is definitely my first go to site whenever I begin the planning process Well, I never really stop planning to travel, but you know what I mean!
Utilizing points helps us to travel more often and for longer periods of time. We have been loyal SPG Members and American Express SPG cardholders for years. The points we earn each year pay for seven to ten nights of free hotel rooms. Now that SPG and Marriott are joined, our hotel selection is even greater. We often earn 7-10 free hotel nights every year utilizing the points we earn with our Marriott Rewards and SPG Cards.
We have enjoyed Hilton Home2Suties when we need larger family suites. You can read about our experience with a Home2Suites in Pigeon Forge here. We also choose Hampton Inns when we are passing through a town for their free breakfast and consistently clean rooms, and we have stayed in several of their Double Tree properties including the Park Vista in Gatlinburg for over ten years.
Skyscanneris a great way to search for airline deals. If your dates AND ESPECIALLY YOUR DESTINATION are flexible, check out Skycanner. You can enter an airport and then choose the EVERYWHERE tab on destination. You can further narrow by putting in a specific month or leaving it open to ANYTIME. This will yield the best time and rates to travel to a given destination. It can be a fun way to decide your next travel adventure. Since we are booking for 5 people, flexibility is always our friend.
Priceline can be a great option if you don’t have to have a particular hotel chain. Since you can bid on hotels, it can yield a savings of as high as 60% in some cases. Choosing a higher star level helps ensure you receive a nice hotel. We also recommend to be careful to study the location on which you are bidding to ensure it is located in the precise location you need and not the town nearby. Careful comparison with a site like TripAdvisor alongside Priceline can help you narrow down the most likely hotels you will receive.
Get My Planner
One of the most challenging aspects of planning an extended road trip is keeping track of all the plans as well as the budget. TripAdvisor is great, but when you are traveling to national parks or off the grid sight seeing destinations, you can’t always depend on your cell coverage.
Having a one page itinerary can really be helpful when you are actually navigating. When planning our 18 day epic road trip to California, I designed a spreadsheet to do just that. Now, every time I begin planning an extended road trip, I have a place to go and keep track of everything.
For every date I keep the
- Hotel names, addresses, phone numbers and confirmation numbers
- Points of interest in the destination
- Name of destination and dates we will be there
- Budget for each travel item: hotel, car, airline, food, etc
- Final day to cancel hotel
That last one is especially important, because the best laid plans can change. Knowing the last day I have to cancel our hotel without penalty can help both before and during the trip.
So, since I already did all the work for you, wouldn’t you like to get a copy of this spreadsheet? We want to give it to you.
Simply click here to sign up and we will send you a copy of our Road Trip Budget Planner. Trust me, it is definitely a helpful tool when on the road. Be sure to check your spam and promotions boxes for our email.