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How to Plan a Road Trip

travel Jan 03, 2020

Road tripping is one of our favorite ways we like to explore the great outdoors – especially National Parks and surrounding areas. I’m also super organized (surprised, right?) and every road trip of ours typically starts with a Google Map and spreadsheet with the budget.

I thought it would be helpful if I shared our road trip planning templates so you can use them too for planning. You can copy mine and customize it for your trip!

The example I’m sharing is from a road trip we did around Washington (particularly the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Vernon areas) then we went up to Vancouver, Canada for a bit.

FIRST, I START WITH A GOOGLE MAP.

I create an initial ‘layer’ and start just putting in all the places we want to go. After we consider logistics and how many days we have, I then add an additional layer for each day and drag the pins of places we want to go to the day that makes the best sense for the route. I label, color code, add fun icons, and photos with descriptions as well. You can see how I do that by opening the map below.

TRAVEL TIP: Save your map to “offline” mode so you can access it without data too (a.k.a. when you’re driving in the middle of nowhere). Find out how to do that right here.

Click on the four squares in the top right on the Google Map to open it up.

 

NEXT, I CREATE A GOOGLE SPREADSHEET WITH THE BUDGET.  

I calculate the gas cost based on the approximate route and mileage, and also go ahead and figure out the campgrounds we’ll stay at or lodging in the areas.

I use Gas Buddy for gas cost and Reserve America or Free Campsites for campgrounds.

There are also a bunch of unique places you can stay too.

On this spreadsheet, I also include a separate sheet at the bottom with the daily route in case that view is easier than the map. Use whichever you like best, or both!

Click on the image below to open the spreadsheet.

TIP: If you log into your Google account you can go to ‘file’ → ‘save a copy’ to copy this template and use it for yourself anytime.

MONEY & BUDGET.

We save up for all of our trips before we go on them. If you want to know how we do that and get a detailed explanation on where the money “lives” until the trip, hop over to THIS post where I explain what we do in detail in the “budgeting software” section.

Now, you just need to pack! If you need help with that, you can find my Ultimate Packing Checklist HERE (hint: it’s customizable too! 

If you plan for road trips in a different way, let me know how you do it!

 

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