Road trip resources

Hints, tips, and guidebooks to get your motor running, plus a few of Reid's favorite road trips across the United States

A road trip through Utah's Arches National Park
Arches National Park in Utah.

How many perfectly good road meals have I wasted on a McBurger and fries when an authentic Maryland crab shack was just a few miles down the road?

How often have I spent good money on a commercial campground when free spots in the state park stood empty?

Motorcycles en route to the Sturgis Rally roar past Devils Tower in Wyoming
Motorcycles en route to the Sturgis Rally roar past Devils Tower in Wyoming.

When have I ignorantly stuck to the interstate when the nearby stretch of old state road wound through a particularly pretty collection of countryside, village squares, and historical sites?

In short, how many times have I expected my car somehow to steer its way magically onto the American byways chronicled by Steinbeck (Travels with Charley), Least-Heat Moon (Blue Highways), or even Kerouac (On the Road) and ended up instead in National Lampoon's Vacation?

Roadtrip resources
Info galore: The Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory ( is your links gateway to state and local tourism offices and chambers of commerce Web sites across North America.

National playgrounds: Visit for information on all the National Parks (and National Monuments and other federal lands). A ton of info, though often poorly organized in a bloody-minded database format.

Getting online: No data plan for your smart phone? Pop into a Panera ( for lunch and cadge some free WiFi. No laptop? No problem; public libraries usually offer a few free terminals.

Books-on-tap & bathrooms: The Cracker Barrel chain ( is always located right at the exit, offers clean bathrooms, penny candy, and buy-and-return audiobook "rentals" for long hauls. Also: breakfast all day (the fried apples are phenomenal).

Find the cheapest local gas: the brilliant site (and app) simply lists the going rate for fuel at every gas station nearby in the U.S. and Canada.

Maps, breakdowns, & discounts: AAA ( is still the king for excellent free state-by-state maps (though I'm also a big fan of the insanely detailed—and, sadly, expensive—DeLorme map books), and they offer members free breakdown assistance across the nation—which, if you need it, will be worth a decade of membership fees. Also—though no one ever bothers to check your card—AAA membership gets you modest discounts at most hotels and motels.

Don’t spend the spring dreaming of the ultimate summer road trip only to end up numbing your bum on endless hours of ruler-straight highways shooting past carbon-copy exits barnacled with identical fast food outlets, mega gas stations, and chain hotels.

Unless you have unlimited time—and pledge to street clear of the Interstate system entirely—making the most out of any road trip requires some advance planning and on-the-road resources...beyond a sheaf of good maps (which are free from your local AAA;

Here are some resources that help you find the best—not just the fastest—routes, what to expect along the way, and when it's wise to get out of the car to discover the real America during this summer.

Road trip advice, links, guides, & resources

Roadtrip tips - From driving safely to staving off boredom, saving money to minding your home while your're gone, here is a panoply of tips to help you survive the Great American Road Trip... Full story

America's Byways - Officially designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation these 125 stretches of distinctive, scenic, or historic roads range from the 1,707-mile Great River Road that parallels the mighty Mississippi to the 4.5-mile Las Vegas Strip ( Full story

Highway guides - A few books to make even the Interstate more interesting, from knowing what's at the next several exits to discovering what fabulous local eatery awaits, hidden just down the road from those exits... Full Story

Road trip guides - If you like your road trips in pre-approved segments, several books, magazines, and Web sites detail drives carefully constructed to link fascinating sights and towns along some of the country's most scenic stretches of road... Full Story

Specialty guides - In addition to generic guidebooks, there are dozens of specialty guides to the U.S.A.—covering variously national and state parks, eccentric sights, factory tours, food, or some other subject—that can make any trip (or trip-planning) go more smoothly... Full Story

Reid's Road Trips - Some of my favorite road trips, detailed day by day: Southern Utah, Mid-Coast Maine, the Mississippi Delta, and Washington's Olympic Peninsula... Full Story

National Parks section - All about our national parks, from annual passes to Yellowstone adventures to hwo to stay in the parks... Full Story

Save on gas - Gas prices may be down a smidgen from the ridiculous highs of recent years, but with regular unleaded still averaging $3 to $3.50 a gallon, a road trip has the potential to suck your budget dry faster than you can say "What ever happened to those cars that run on water they promised us?" Here are ten tips to conserve fuel that don't involve buying a hybrid... Full Story

National parks - National parks aren't just our greatest idea, they're the lynchpins of a great road trip. Here's the lowdown on some of America's most magnificent national parks, plus tips on how to make the most of them with the park pass, by booking historic inns, and even camping for free on federal lands... Full Story

Free campgrounds - Did you know that most National Parks are wrapped in a coccoon of National Forests—and that the forests not only don't charge admission, but camping in them is absolutely free—so long as you steer clear of official campgrounds?... Full Story

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in January 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.