May 15 2011
It seems that I’m always planning a vacation or getaway or dream trip of some sort. Some come to fruition, and others don’t, but I really enjoy the planning.
Whether planning a day trip or a road trip, I have a number of tools that I use regularly.
Internet: I have a number of websites that I turn to, including
- Google maps, for calculating routes and mileage when driving
- Google search for “CityName Visitors” to quickly find the site for the local or state tourism agency, where I browse online guides or order paper materials
- Roadside America for quirky stops along the way
- Six Suitcase Travel when looking for overnight accommodations for our family of six, which doesn’t fit neatly into most hotel rooms
Travel Guides and Maps: We’ve seldom had to use our AAA membership for roadside assistance, but I find the annual fee more than worthwhile when considering hotel and other discounts and the free maps and Tourbook guides. I get a Tourbook for every region we consider visiting, and my kids love to pore over the maps.
Nationwide Guidebooks: Once we have a destination in place, I pull out my national guidebooks to see what interesting things I can find at our destination and along the way. These include:
- The Next Exit
- National Geographic Complete National Parks
- Reader’s Digest Travel Guide USA
- The Most Scenic Drives in America
- Off the Beaten Path
- Over 1001 Amazing Places to go in North America
- 1000 Places to See (USA/Canada) Before You Die
- Roadside Attractions
- Watch it Made in the USA
- America’s Best Zoos
- National Geographic Scenic Highways and Byways
- Road Trip USA
- Greetings from the Lincoln Highway (if the old road is part of our trip)
- Campgrounds in the USA
Local Guidebooks: Because many of our trips are right here in Minnesota, I’ve amassed a good collection of local guides. If we’re traveling elsewhere, I don’t hesitate to buy an Off the Beaten Path or other helpful family guidebook for our destination. My Minnesota guides include:
- Tales of the Road
- Family Fun Great Lakes guide
- Oddball Minnesota
- Minnesota Curiosities
- Minnesota Family Weekends
- Minnesota’s State Parks
- Minnesota State Parks: A Camper’s Guide
- County Parks of Minnesota
- Minnesota Day Trips by Theme
- Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lakes
- Minnesota Museums
- Minnesota History Along the Highways
- Hiking Minnesota with Kids
When we get home, we put a pin in our family map for each place that we stopped and did something interesting along the way. We still have a lot of ground to cover, don’t we?
Note: Links to books above are Amazon affiliate links. Some books are no longer available for purchase; check your local library for availability.
What are your favorite vacation-planning tools?