One of my favorite things is to plan trips. I love dreaming about places to go and making lists. Each summer we take a big road trip, sometimes it involves camping, sometimes not. This year it does. We will be taking 3 weeks to travel and camp. My oldest child will be in Austin, TX for the month of July, and we are going to roadtrip from Seattle to Austin to pick her up, then come home again.
When planning a road trip the first thing I do is decide where to go. This year we have a particular place to go already built in, so this was easy for us. A couple years ago we just decided to go to the Grand Canyon because we never had before, and then visit all the other National Parks in the areas along the way. Cost can make a big difference in where you go. Disneyland is going to be a bigger budget trip than camping in Yosemite. Both are awesome, but very different.
Once you have a destination(s) in mind, you have to choose a route. Depending on how far away your destination is, you may need to decide how long to take to get there. Sometimes we roadtrip for just a couple hours and stay in that area for a whole week (like a trip to Ocean Shores). For this years trip to Texas the most direct route is well over 2,000 miles. I know I will not be attempting to do this in 2 days.
This is where I usually start a trip on Roadtrippers. I put in my starting point and destination, then start exploring things to do/see along the way. I like camping, and there are lots of national parks between Seattle and Austin, so I put them into my route. It makes the trip take longer, but then we get to spend time outdoors in some of the most beautiful places in the country.
While figuring out the route, you have to decide how much travel to do each day, and where to stay each night. Last year we went with hotels the whole trip. It made packing easier. It made the kids a little happier. It made things more expensive. This year my kids are a little older. We haven’t camped in a while, so they are more enthusiastic. And we are saving a ton on money. A $15 campsite is much cheaper than a $75+ hotel room (especially when you have a family of 6 and need 2 rooms).
Knowing these things can help you make a definite budget and determine packing and meals. I have a packing list that combines camping and long road trips. When camping close to home the list is pretty much the same, but maybe fewer car entertainment items. When camping we do most meals in-camp, so having a food planner is important. I use these every time we take a trip and find them invaluable, so I’m sharing them with you (yay free printables!)