Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Road Trip Planning Tips

Road trip planning tips are the topic of today's Blogging A to Z post.

Check out the other posts I've done here.

Since moving to Europe almost a year ago I have made quite a few new friends and acquaintences, through our chats one thing has become clear: planning a road trip is hard! Whether you are taking a car or train, getting organized to plan a big trip and see all you want to see along the way can be extremely overwhelming. I'm getting it down pretty well so I wanted to share with y'all some of my tips!

Use google maps. If you are going via car, use google maps, it is fantastic. You can add waypoints along the way, search areas in which you are thinking of stopping for landmarks and whatnot, it is a great resource. If you are going via train, like us, it is easy to map as well since google maps has the transportation feature! In Europe I imagine this is an easier feature to use, but it allows you to see a basic route and what is along the way. Using this feature I know on our way home from Berlin we will be stopping off in Cologne for a few hours since we switch trains there and our tickets are flexible. 

Know your route and stops along the way. If you want to make stops along the way while using a mass transit system make sure you know exactly where you are supposed to change trains. This will often allow you to see some really unique places that will only take an hour or two of your time. If you are in a car, this is important as the teenager remembers once being stuck on a bridge in Louisianna having to pee and once we finally got off the bridge, we were in the middle of nowhere with no peeing stations in sight, so knowing your route is good to prevent emergencies.

Know the terms of your tickets. If you are going by train make sure you know the terms of your tickets. I always get the mid-grade flexi tickets so if we want to hop off and on we can, just be aware of certain time restrictions and whatnot.

Know your train if you are travling by train. Most trains when traveling through Europe I have found do not having a dining car, so know ing your route will help you to know if you need to bring along food and drink. I always recommend having snacks, but we are traveling 6 hours to and from Berlin (12 total hours) this month with no dining car so I know we each need a water bottle, plus one extra bottle each, along with a full lunch and a snack. Usually they have someone walk through on trips 3+ hours with a box like you'd see at a ball game in the US but it is ladened with sugary crappy food that I have no desire to eat. (Plus, if you plan right and you don't have to drive you can bring beer and wine along ;))

Check the weather the day before you pack. I thought this one was something everyone did, but I have talked to 6 different people who have had a horrible vacation because they were so excited to get going, had an assumption about the weather of a place, and it was not at all what they expected! I usually pack just 24 hours in advance. I have a basic outline of what I want to take but the real packing isn't done until 24 hours before, you never know what sort of weather system could come in over night, some places are just that unpredicatable.

Bring as small a bag as you possibly can. This will eliminate over packing and will keep you from dreading making stops along the way. Many train stations have lockers you can rent so if you want to stop off you can toss your small suitcase in and enjoy a few hours sightseeing before catching your next train! For car rides this will allow for more leg room, than if you over packed.

Have a written itinerary. The biggest complaint I hear is they didn't get to see everything they thought they would. This doesn't necessarily have to be a huge written itinerary with walking directions like I made for London, but at least having a written account of landmarks you want to see and what is inside if it is a museum can be really helpful.....as poor time management, not realizing how long some things would take vs. the number of things they want to see is the reason most people are left a little let down. For example, when we went to Paris, we only had a long weekend so when we tackled the Louvre we knew we wanted to see Napoleon's Apartment and then we each picked three works of art we wanted to see, made it to those and then got out of there. We were in there an hour longer than we anticipated, but we still made it to all ther other stuff that day thankfully because we had a plan.

Keep your wallet in your front pocket for men, and women have a cross body bag with zipper in the front. For backpacks, have a lock for the zipper. This is to protect you from pick-pockets. These aren't foolproof but they do help. People can be the suck, especially in large, crowded areas such as the Eiffel Tower, near the Mona Lisa, or in a crowded square in Brussels.

That is all I have for now, later this week I will have some suitcase organizing tips, as well as my travel essentils.

Do you have any tips to add?


  1. Very good advice! I love traveling by train, but it does need quite a bit of planning.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    1. Thanks! I agree, it really does...we've finally got it down to a science but our first few trips I remember being soooooooooo hungry! hahaha

  2. Very helpful -- especially that tip about overpacking! We just got back from a week-long trip and definitely took too much. Another resource that helps is to check out those travel guides -- anything by Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Fodor's. All help in thinking through the trip, finding good places to stay, and not missing what could be the highlight of your trip. Of course, tripadvisor makes the planning even easier! Good travels ahead for all!

  3. Love the tips, Kate! Those apply to anyone who tackles the road in a public or a private vehicle. Checking the weather before you leave, especially, is important for drivers and commuters alike. After all, being unprepared for bad weather could ruin the whole trip for anybody, right? In any way, thanks for sharing those with us! All the best to you! :)

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company

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