Back in 2010, my husband and I sat down to write out our ultimate road trip plans for the following summer. He has always wanted to drive the West Coast of America and since I am from there, I jumped at the chance to be back home in my own country and one of my favorite areas in my country still to date. We put pen to paper with our ideas of what we thought a road trip should included, what to avoid, what it would cost and laid the plans for where we would fly in and out of to make our dream road trip completely.
There is a lot of planning and researching when you are doing a road trip. How long you want to be gone is probably the first question you need to ask yourselves? We thought two weeks would be a fab first road trip together. We might leave each other on the side of the road half way between Las Vegas and San Diego but let’s hope it’s near a beach. Then we researched how much it would cost to fly to San Francisco and back as this is where we were starting our journey. This would be a cost that was fixed for us and gave us a start. Once we knew where we were landing it was decided our major stops and minor stops. We got a map out and using markers circles what we really want to see and what things we could do if we had extra time. We weren’t going to stay overnight in smaller places where we could just visit for the day but perhaps stay a few days in the bigger places like Las Vegas.
Our main trip was about driving up the West Coast of America (one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I have been to a lot of places in the world) and visit Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. With those in mind our road trip became an ultimate road trip plan. We started looking at how much it would cost to leave our car at the airport in the UK with Purple Parking as it would be cheaper for us to fly out of London Heathrow instead of Manchester and we were going to drive there to start our journey. It was a drive-fly-drive vacation ahead of us. Sometimes you can save huge if you look at surrounding airports flying from an alternative route you can drive to rather than your local one. I know in some cases it’s hundreds of pounds cheaper to fly to America from London than it is Manchester and just as easy for us to drive and park at the airport.
There are so many websites out there that can guide you on various parts of America if you want to see specific parts. Our must see list was quite big for our first road trip but we wanted to do it before we had kids. We took advice from a variety of websites but we didn’t want to use a specific tour. We wanted to be able to stay longer in one place if we we wanted to or leave if it wasn’t what we thought onto the next place.
OUR MUST SEE LIST:
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Friends and Family in Flagstaff
OUR MUST DO LIST:
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
See a Show in Vegas
Falls and Old Faithful at Yellowstone
Helicopter over Grand Canyon
The Grand Falls near Flagstaff, Arizona
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Visit Santa Monica Pier
Shopping Sunset Blvd and Rodeo Drive
Wine Tour in Santa Barbara
Golfing in Santa Barbara for hubby
Kayak Tour anywhere along California coastline
Once we got our major and minor locations marked down on our map and what we wanted to do and see in each place, it was easy than to calculate how many days or just the day we would stay in each. Then we calculated gas according to the miles were we traveling. We didn’t want to do a combination of buses, car rental and flying so we thought we would take the open road as much as possible. We decided to also keep budget tight on smaller areas and splurge in big cities for nicer hotels and dinners at restaurants where we could like in Vegas. Otherwise, we gave ourselves a daily budget for food and extras.
Our most exciting addition to our road trip was that we decided to drive in a convertible. Yes, while going through dessert and extreme weather temperatures a convertible isn’t always great, at night and on cooler parts of our trip it would make the scenery that much more memorable. We also made sure NOT to plan going in the height of heat season for these places. It’s unbearable, believe me I have been there.
We also decided in a lot of the places, we were going to choose Airbnb places to stay. It comes out a lot nicer places for the same price as a cheap, run down hotel. It’s better to have a host taking care of a place than pick a random hotel in the middle of nowhere and worry what you will get. Airbnb always have standards to follow, are backed by the company and host with reviews so you know you will get a great place to stay. We have sorted in staying in Airbnb than hotels a lot more now. But on road trip it’s fun to have a mix of places you are staying.
The biggest thing when planning your ultimate road trip is budget. Give yourself one and stick to it, tightly. As there will always be things that crop up and cost more than you thought in the end. I promise you.
So how did our ultimate road trip go….?
Sadly, while I have shared our lovely ultimate road trip plans from 2010 and didn’t they sound truly amazing? It was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime. Those plans had to be cancelled, we booked this trip unknowing, the week our surprise baby was due to arrive. So much for road trips before kids for us as our daughter followed the very next year. As the kids get older, we have been thinking about ways that we might actual turn this very trip into a family road trip for the future. They are old enough to sit in a car and get more involved in outdoor activities. I think we would be doing more family shows come Vegas and pool time but either way it still is on our top list for road trips we will one day take!
Have you ever taken a road trip? Perhaps across Europe, they make it so easy to get everywhere now. I would love to hear all about your experiences, if you took the kids or not, and how you went about planning your ultimate road trip too?