Planning that summer road trip but unsure how to create a satisfying itinerary?
I love road trips as they are a great way to see the countryside, explore unknown territory and keep your overall budget for travel responsible.
My husband and I recently made a two-week road trip to Istanbul and had a fantastic time. We like to plan our road trip in a loop which allows us to see new sites and sceneries.
Planning a road trip can be just as stressful as planning a cruise or air travel vacation. Here are some helpful tips to create your road trip:
CREATE AN ITINERARY!
Start out with a list of cities and sites you want to visit and then do your research to find out what others recommend for the time needed at those destinations.
Plot out your cities and sites on Google map to see how much driving time you will need to allow in between each city. If there are historical/scenic stops you want to make in between your cities, make sure to allow time to visit them.
ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
Antalya -Pamukkale Selcuk Izmir Bursa Istanbul Afyonkarah1sar-Antalya (2021)
Time: 15 Days
- Pamukkale (3 days): Stayed at Venus Suites Hotel a boutique hotel that included a full Turkish breakfast as well as transportation service to Hierapolis.
- Selçuk (stop along the way): Explored the Ancient City of Ephesus and the House of Virgin Macy. Which we would have spent another night exploring other sites in the city.
- Izmir (4 days): Within the heart of all the major attractions is the Renaissance Izmir Hotel. We were able to walk about the city and enjoy the beautiful boardwalk, only a short distance from the hotel.
- Bursa (3 days): OMG! So much to see in Bursa and tends to be overlooked! The city has fabulous restaurants historical sites and a great place for shopping. Stayed at Sheraton Bursa Hotel, which was within walking distance to many restaurants’ malls, and shops.
- Istanbul (4 days): We stayed at the Wyndham Grand Istanbul Kalamis Marina Hotel on the Asian side of Istanbul and met up with friends. Moda and Kuzguncuk are interesting neighborhoods to check out. We took off to Galata Tower with our friends (eating delicious Turkish dishes) shopping on Istiklal Street and Visited Emirgan Park to see the colorful tulip park along the Bosphorus River.
- Kütahya (stop along the way to Afyonkarahisar): This area of Turkey makes some of the most beautiful ceramics, so we decided to stop and check out a couple of the shops.
- Afyonkarahisar (1 day): Needed to break up the long day of driving so stopped in Afyonkarahisar at DoubleTree by Hilton Afyonkarah.
Within each city, examine possible sites or activities you want to do and determine how much time you will need. Again, it helps to read blogs to research the time necessary at each of your destinations.
Knowing the number of days you have set aside for your road trip will help you in planning it efficiently with maximum gratification.
Make sure that when planning your trip, you consider all the passengers in the car. Although most adults enjoy the scenery (mountains, coastline, desert), kids find this boring. Share your plans with all who will be traveling with you so that you have a better shot at keeping everybody happy.
RENT A CAR OR DRIVE YOUR CAR?
When considering a road trip, you have two options: rent a car or drive your vehicle. I have rented a car to go on a road trip because I did not want to put many miles on my car and needed a car with a little more space.
If you plan to drive your car, take the time to have your vehicle tuned up and made ready for the road trip. Have the tires checked and carry a tire gauge to check air levels if needed. Make sure that the car has a current inspection sticker.
If you are driving in a different country or unusual location, check to make sure you know traffic and road rules for that country. We drove in countries where road signs were not in English and found it challenging to understand the road rules. Do your homework before getting on the road!
Don’t forget that you may end up on a toll road and need to pay the toll. Carry loose change to cover those costs.
We all occasionally need a restroom/snack break or to put gas in the car when driving from city to city. GasBuddy is an app that provides a list of gas stations and gas prices to help you find the best deals near you.
BOOK SOME, BUT NOT ALL, ACCOMMODATIONS
If you are traveling during peak season, it may be challenging to have such flexibility in booking hotels but consider only securing reservations in advance for the nights you know you need. You can almost always extend your stay while at the hotel or through your app.
If your schedule is relatively flexible, it is nice to anticipate best when you’ll make it to a particular area and then book your nightly stay. We use Hotels.com to make reservations and find reasonable rates. We have learned that it is easier to add nights than try to get a refund for the unused night-stays.
When planning your road trip, don’t think that you should only spend one night in each hotel as this will be exhausting to everyone. We have booked accommodations in one city, drove to other cities on the outskirts of where we are staying, and enjoyed sites along the way without moving to a different hotel.
After a long day of driving, make sure to give yourself some time to unwind. Plan to do something soothing and reinvigorating upon arrival at your hotel. A swim in the hotel pool or a nice shower and a good meal at the hotel can do you wonders.
PACK SNACKS AND DRINKS
Before hitting the open road, stock up with your favorite snacks and drinks to eat along the way. We have learned that we can reduce our eating-out expenses and stops by eating snacks such as fruit, lunch meat, crackers, cheese while traveling.
We recently purchased a portable electric cooler that works great for road trips, We always keep bottles of water in the car to stay hydrated.
It can be tough not to eat few “junk food” when road-tripping but try to select healthy snack options when packing the car or stopping at the gas station. I wrote a blog that can help with some great ideas!
When packing snacks, don’t forget to include a knife (to cut fruit), a roll of paper towels, wet wipes, trash bags, Ziplock baggies (for leftover items), bag clips, and hand sanitizer.
You might consider at some point of your road trip to enjoy a picnic. You will often find roadside picnic areas to enjoy one and gives you a chance to stretch out your legs.
ROAD TRIP FUN
Sometimes the distance between destinations can be long, so think about games or activities you can do in the car that will pass the time. One thing my husband and I enjoy is listening to various podcasts. We have had some great discussions about the episodes and were surprised to discover how fast time went by while listening.
If you have kids in the car, make sure to plan activities that will keep them entertained, such as coloring books, activity booklets, movies, and other fun games.
This is also a good time for some downtime. Maybe a good nap or put on noise-canceling headphones and appreciate the quiet time. Don’t forget about the driver and make sure that he/she also gets a break from driving.
SEEK OUT THINGS
When traveling across the country, it is always fun to come upon unusual landscapes, artistic sculptures, signs, or festivals. Take the time to stop, explore the location, visit with the locals, and have an experience that wasn’t planned. I find some of my most favorite pictures were taken unexpectantly while traveling.
If you notice a festival or city-wide event is occurring, join the fun, eat the food, and check out what they are celebrating. They typically are free and fun!
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.