What kind of road-tripper are you?
Different people define ‘road trip’ in different ways. Whatever your definition, you’ll get no judgment from me. I support all kinds of road trips!
Which of these road trip styles looks best to you?
1. Day trips from a vacation home base
There are pros and cons to this—you don’t have to pack up and move every day or two, but you may also feel like you haven’t really taken to the road. It’s possible to cover a lot of ground doing day trips, though. Example: From a home base vacation rental in Palm Springs you could drive the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway one day, with a stop in idyllic Idyllwild. Spend another day in Joshua Tree National Park. Head north to drive a stretch of iconic Route 66 and hike to the Amboy crater, if geology interests you. Leave a little time for exploring the mid-century mecca of old Palm Springs. Day trips to San Diego or Santa Monica are also possible. Roadtrippers website has many ideas to explore, but I especially liked their suggestions for an adventure with your kids in every state.
2. Drive a loop
Whether your loop circles a small region like Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, or most of a continent, this efficient plan avoids backtracking. America’s Scenic Byways website lists dozens of drives, from the Florida Keys Scenic Highway to Alaska’s Dalton Highway, which ends at the Arctic Ocean. It’s a great resource for creating your own ideal travel loop, in any part of the country. Example: The northern Rocky Mountains are hard to beat for scenic beauty. If you enjoy the back roads, bring your jeep! You’ll want a well-enclosed vehicle if you plan to include Yellowstone National Park, though. The bears or bison might try to join you for a ride.
Head onto the highway without a plan, and just see where each day takes you. Stop when you find something of interest, follow the good weather, and enjoy the ride. This un-planned style suits some personalities better than others, and you won’t spend a lot of advance time booking hotels or counting mileage for each day. The only plan you might need is when to turn around and head home, so you can be back to work on time.
4. Life on the road
If you want to make the road your home, you will need a vehicle to suit your purpose. Whether a custom RV, vintage Airstream trailer, or camper van, your expectations of life on the road will determine your needs. For most people, this goal would mean a major lifestyle change, and lots of research to prepare yourself. You could start with the blog of the Russos, a couple with years of nomadic life on the road behind them. Wandering Earl also has ideas from his 20 years of worldwide wandering.
This year offers special challenges for all kinds of travel. If you are planning a road trip this year, be sure to read the 2020 travel tips posted here. And post in the comments your ideal road trip style!