I think we have mastered the road trip. As a family we have traveled from Alberta to Vancouver Island, the west coast down to Los Angeles, across Canada to Moncton, New Brunswick, down to Arizona and across to San Diego, and the monster of all road trips – down to Miami (actually the Everglades). We loved all of these road trips, but do not have the urge to drive to the east coast ever again. It’s a lot of driving!
We did bring camping gear on the first couple of trips, but the vast majority of nights were in spent in a nice warm bed in a hotel.
Rent a car. Why put all that mileage and wear and tear on your own car? Check the rules to make sure you can take the car as far as you’re going. I found Avis was the only company that gives unlimited mileage and allows you to take the car across the border. We usually rent a standard or full size car. I make sure I call the day before and request a car with rear cup holders and a usb connection. (A lesson we learned the hard way).
A GPS is worth it’s weight in gold! We don’t book anything in advance. We pick a direction and go. The first trip we got in the car and said where should we go? How about Seattle? Ok! And off we went. The GPS will take you on the shortest route which sometimes results in quieter roads and even going through residential neighbourhoods. Use your common sense. Sometimes I decide to stay on a major highway because I know it’s the one I need. Just ignore the gps when it tells you to turn and it will recalculate the route.
If you want to plan a route or just check out how far things are, use google maps and get directions. You can just type in cities and it will show you the route and the amount of time. This is where I figured out what was feasible.
Back to no plan. When we get to a city, or decide we’re ready to stop, we search for a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop with free wifi (you know who they are) on the gps and go there. Use the free wifi to find a hotel. I use hotwire, expedia, and tripadvisor. Customer recommendation on tripadvisor should be at least 80%. I search by rating and go down until I find the first one in my price range. Book the hotel, have a coffee, put the address in the gps and go there. We have never been stranded.
We vacation attention deficit style, and find that 3 nights in a city is enough for us, but we’re not in to sitting around the pool, relaxing, or visiting a lot of museums or art galleries. At night I use tripadvisor to find the things and activities we’re interested in. In big cities with tourist areas, we just wander around.
Traveling in the US is a fair bit cheaper than Canada. Hotels are more abundant and cheaper. The changing landscape in the US makes for a nice varied experience. We have done Seattle, Canon Beach, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in a 3 week trip.
My blog post is almost as epic as our road trips. The pic at the top was driving between Phoenix and San Diego. If anyone reading has any questions, feel free to ask!