Road Trip Ideas: Plan the Trip of a Lifetime

Are you itching to drive somewhere but don't have any specific road trip ideas? We envy you. For most of us, it's the other way around: we know exactly where we want to go but can't get off work—or haven't saved up the cash we need to take a long driving vacation. 

For someone in your situation, it's best to start your road trip planning by brainstorming lots of ideas to see which ones appeal to you most. You can then whittle down the choices in terms of time and expense until you find a destination and travel itinerary that's both fun and feasible. 

How to Start Generating Road Trip Ideas

There's really no trick to coming up with road trip ideas. We suggest you gather at least one of the people you plan on traveling with, grab a notebook and road atlas, and have a good, old-fashioned brainstorming session. If you're planning on traveling alone, then just grab the notebook and atlas. 

In the true spirit of a brainstorm, there's no such thing as a bad idea. So in your first pass, write down any place you've ever wanted to drive to—even the places that are clear across the country. If you get stuck, flip through the atlas for a while until it reminds you of somewhere you'd like to go. 

Got a good list going? Good. You may want to sleep on it and then come back and review it tomorrow. This approach is fun because in the time between your first brainstorm and your review, you and your family members will probably keep discussing the most interesting of your ideas, and you'll start to get a feel for which idea is "winning." But if you're really on a roll, you may want to start filtering your ideas right after your initial brainstorm is done. 

Filtering Your Road Trip Ideas

If you really let it fly during your brainstorm, you probably came up with a number of completely impractical road trip ideas. For example, you can't drive from Florida to Wyoming and back in a week—at least, not if you want to enjoy the trip. And it's likely that you have at least some financial limitations. 

The impractical ideas are the easiest ones to eliminate from your list. It's also easy to cut the ones that sounded good yesterday, but don't generate any enthusiasm the following day or week in your review session. (If you're not feeling it, don't waste any time on it.)

So, you're now left with the doable routes—and you may be facing a tough choice. One way to make it easier on yourself is to ask yourself which of the potential road trips on your list can only be completed during this year's vacation, and which could be taken anytime. For example, Yellowstone will still be around next year, but your 85-year-old grandparents who live 1,500 miles away may not. 

Another way to narrow your choices is to ask your fellow travelers whether they're more interested in the trip or the destination. (We're always more into the drive, but there's no judgment here!) If you feel like driving for a day or two and then spending several days in an amazing vacation-y place, then you'll probably want to eliminate the kinds of trips that involve, say, a seven-day driving loop with nightly stops in quirky, offbeat places. 

This Should Get Your Wheels Turning

Now, it's possible that you're so stuck for road trip ideas that you aren't even ready to brainstorm yet. Or maybe you brainstormed but just don't feel like you came up with anything good. In either case, these resources will help you come up with more potential destinations for your next road trip: 

Road trip destinations. Here are some suggestions on places it's worth driving a day or two to reach.

United States tourist attractions. These spots are touristy places to drive to on your next road trip.

Road trip across America. Taking a road trip across America is an unforgettable vacation. Here are some ideas on planning your trip.

East coast road trip. The east coast isn't all cities and interstate highways. Check out these ideas for more scenic road trips.

Have we jump-started your creativity? Hope to see you out on the open road soon.

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