Plan Your Next Road Trip

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A 1969 Porsche 911 sides at the side of a desert back road, which stretches off toward the mountains on the horizon.
Road Trip Advice and Insights provided for free! *Porsche not included

Planning a road trip is often fun, exciting, and generates a lot of anticipation for your upcoming adventure!  It can also be frustrating, annoying, and can generate a lot of questions and concerns about where to go, how to get there, what to see and do along the way, where to stay, what to eat …. the list goes on and on!  If you’re looking for help with creating maps for your next road trip – you’ve come to the right place!

Creating Back Road Maps for your next Road Trip

TL/DR:  Complete the form below to begin the process of planning your back road trip!  Please be sure to include some basic information – start and end points, when you’re leaving, duration of your trip, what you’re interested in seeing and doing, etc.  Or you can also Email me today!

The fee for putting together maps, plans and ideas for your road trip is minimal.  The process and costs are outlined below the submission box.  On average, every 250 miles of route planning takes around 30 minutes, so even a cross-country road trip can be mapped out quite affordably!

Note – in most cases, I will respond to your initial request within 24-48 hours tops.  If you haven’t heard from me within 48 hours, please email me to follow up.  

Complete the contact form below to get additional details.

NOTE:   If your trip starts before Sept 1st, 2020, unfortunately, I will not be able to work with you. 

I am leaving for a road trip of my own, and am not taking on new/urgent plans.

I’m sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope to work with you on your next trip!

Jump to Trip Planning Costs

Want Help with Planning a Road Trip?

If you fall into the second category of folks described above – fear not!! You’re not alone!  It can be quite challenging to find and organize all of the various components that combine to create a successful road trip.  There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out and asking for help, not when you can work with a highly experienced back road adventurer who loves assisting readers find their way off the highway and into the heart of America…..

But what exactly does that mean?

Plan Your Road Trip

There are a number of steps that go into planning a road trip, regardless of length, goal, or other criteria.  I’ve put these steps in order based upon what has worked best in my own travel experiences.  If there is an alternate thought process you would like to consider, I’m flexible and am happy to work with you!

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Is it safe to travel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

The answer is, of course, an emphatic yes!  While we don’t pretend to be medical experts nor epidemiologists, it’s very clear that safe practices such as social distancing can still be observed during a road trip. 

In fact, taking back roads is possibly one of the safest ways you can travel during the Coronavirus pandemic!  You will bypass major cities and congested interstates.  You’ll also avoid high volume hotel chains, crowded and often unclean rest areas, and big name chain restaurants that draw in significant flocks of road-weary travelers.  

Instead, you’ll spend most of your trip meandering your way along serene and scenic back roads.  You’ll bounce from small town to small town, enjoying the openness and freedom from crowds.  Sidewalks won’t be jam-packed with pedestrians, and restaurants won’t be filled to the brim with hungry patrons.  Life proceeds at a slower and far more relaxed pace.  Instead of the crowded indoor tourist traps found in major cities, most of your destinations and detours will be in the great outdoors:  State and National Forests, State Parks, National Parks, National Monuments, and much more!

Plus, if you love to camp or have a travel trailer, you’ll have the safest overnight accommodations possible!

Creating a Road Trip Map using only Back Roads

Here are the steps that we recommend you follow – and that we always follow – when developing the plan for your next road trip.

  1. Determine your various travel goals – where do you want to go, and what do you want to see and do?

    This the first, and most crucial, step of planning your road trip.  Not only are you deciding where you ultimately want to end up, but you should have an idea of the kinds of experiences you want to have along the way.  Do you want to explore museums?  Camp in the wilderness?  Experience various regional cuisines?  A winery or brewery or distillery tour?  These characteristics will help me to begin crafting an excellent experience for you.

  2. Determine your road trip budget.

    This is a no-brainer, of course, but it’s an important thing to figure out early on.  Without a good sense of your budget, you won’t be able to figure out what you can … or can’t … afford to do on your vacation.  It also provides guidance about where you’ll be eating, where you’ll be sleeping, and ways that you can trim the proverbial fat in certain areas to allow additional spending in other areas.  You must also be prepared for how much money you’ll spend on gas.  This crucial element will help me to work with you to maximize your travel budget.

  3. Determine how long you have to travel.

    Again, this one seems fairly obvious, but the amount of time you can take for your vacation is a huge factor in planning your road trip.  The number of days & nights you can travel to (and from) your destination will affect the mapping process significantly.  This will help me to figure out the best way to spend your time in getting to your destination.

  4. Pick your mode of transportation.  Also, determine where you want to stay while you’re traveling.

    This one might give you pause.  “What do you mean, mode of transportation?”  you might ask me.  “Aren’t we going to drive on the back roads?”  Well, yes… you most assuredly are going to drive on the back roads.  But WHAT VEHICLE will you be driving on the back roads?  Will you be taking your family’s minivan, or perhaps a sports car (like the Porsche in the first picture)?  Maybe you’re considering renting or buying an RV… or maybe you’re even willing to brave this road trip on a motorcycle!  I know I would consider it!  The type of vehicle not only affects where you’ll be staying, it will also impact the types of roads that can be included on your route.

    Where you want to stay is one of the easiest decisions in this process.  Will you be camping, staying in hotels or motels, or renting homes through AirBNB?  Are you crashing at a friend’s place or family member’s house, or will it be a combination of several of these?

    The vehicle that you will take on your trip will help me to map out the types of roads you’ll be travelling.  The kind of accommodations you’re looking for will help me find places for you to stay along the way.

  5. Map Your Road Trip.

    This is the meat and potatoes of the road trip plan.  Creating maps is what will take up the majority of my time helping you plan your vacation.  I will use your starting point and ending point (Important:  I do NOT want your home address.  A nearby city is good enough.), in combination with the other factors listed above, to map out route options for you to consider.

    Each map will consist of roughly 250-350 miles.  This will allow you plenty of time during each travel day to explore and experience things along your route.  I attempt to keep the driving time to less than 6 hours per day (though exceptions can and do get made if needed).  I will highlight points of interest you may want to visit, including links to related websites and/or maps of the location.  If possible, I’ll point out a place or two I’d recommend eating.

    Nearly every map will end your day of driving at where I recommend you spend the night.  I will consider your preferred style of accommodations and budget, and spend time reviewing the various options at the end point of each day of driving.  I also will read through reviews posted online, primarily through Google, but also on Yelp if needed.  NOTE:  I do NOT book rooms nor make reservations for you.

    A Rand McNally Road Map for planning routes

    1. What will my Road Trip Maps look like?

      Great question!  As I mentioned above, your road trip will be broken down into increments of approximately 250-350 miles per day.  Each day will include notes about the start and end points and a link to the specific Google Map of each leg of your journey.

      I will also write 1-3 paragraphs about why I picked the route that I did and things you can see and do along the way.  If possible, I’ll suggest a restaurant to stop at, shops or museums to seek out, and/or state and national parks to explore.  I’ll end your route at the recommended accommodations for your overnight stay.

      A few examples of maps:

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      And examples of route descriptions:

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  6. Find and select places along your route options, and at your end point, that interest you most.

    We will work together on this.  During the process of creating the maps for your options, I will come across a variety of things that may be interesting for you.  As I mentioned above, I will include at least one or two options within every route for something you should explore.  Even the fly-over states have worthwhile stops along the way.  You almost certainly will find others I didn’t notice.  We will correspond via email to figure out which options are the best fit.  A big part of why I’m doing this for you is to help you find the points and places of interest that you would’ve missed had you simply driven on the highway.  

  7. Fine tune the details of your trip.

    This is the question and answer portion of the process.  We’ll work together to fine tune the map(s) to your liking, and make changes along the way to perfect the plan.  A crucial factor to the success of your trips is the ability to be spontaneous and flexible.  Things might change, there might be detours or closures or bad weather.  Any of a number of unforeseen possibilities could crop up at any time on a road trip.  As much as is possible, I will remain in touch with you while you are on the road.  If you have questions, concerns, or issues that crop up, simply email me.  I will respond to you as soon as I can.

    If applicable, I will also work with you to provide additional travel-related recommendations.  For instance, one of the road trips I helped plan was a motorcycle ride from Phoenix up to Denver.  The person was relatively new to riding, so I ended up working with him to provide recommendations on gear, equipment, tools, maintenance and more!  In fact – it occurred to me that much of that information would be useful to other riders… so I organized it better and made it into a blog post Whenever possible, I will provide related insights from my lifetime of travel experience to help make your road trip amazing!

  8. And … GO!

    Self-explanatory to the max.  Enjoy your trip!

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Bixby Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur California
Where will your road trip take you?

How much does road trip planning cost?

I like to keep things straightforward.  My planning service is a great way to maximize your road trip experience at a very low cost.  The fee structure is simple:

  1. Your very first map – the first leg of your journey – is completely risk-free.  I’ll send you an introductory email that outlines our service in detail, and provides you with a quote for the cost of one way and round trip plans.  If you are comfortable with the process, I’ll send your first map – the first 250 miles or so of your trip – with no payment necessary.  If you are satisfied with the work, the cost of the first map will be included in your terms and plans.  If not – you don’t have to pay me anything!
  2. Each additional 250 miles is $5.  I generate a rough estimate of the total distance of your trip.  I use the starting and ending points you’ve provided to calculate approximately how many miles the trip is one way.  I divide the total distance by 250 miles, which is then multiplied by $5.  For the round trip cost, I divide the full length of your drive by 250 and multiply by $5.  NOTE:  I always round up, due to the amount of work involved in planning and the fact that back road routes tend to add mileage.
  3. I also offer printable PDF copies of your road trip plans.  This including maps, turn by turn directions, and the route description I provide.  This service is $2.50 per 250 miles.  (UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, WE CANNOT PROVIDE THIS SERVICE)
  4. I send you an invoice via PayPal.  Once we determine what options you want, I send you an invoice via PayPal for the balance due in full.  I receive payment, I’ll send you the full route with my recommendations.  PayPal is my preferred method of payment, but I will try to work out additional options for you if needed.  We will correspond to correct and update your routes – and answer any questions you might have – as needed at absolutely no cost.  I will provide minor alterations and revisions for free.
  5. If you subscribe to the website or like and follow the Facebook page, I will reduce the per-map price by $1 each.  This does NOT reduce the cost of the Printable PDF files.
  6. Referral and Writing bonuses:  If you write a post about your experience or take part in an email interview with me, I will plan your next road trip for free!  In addition, if you refer a friend who plans their trip with me, I will reduce their cost by $1 per map AND plan your next road trip for free!  (Up to $30 in value, or 6 maps.  Additional maps will be charged at half price, or $2.50 each)
  7. Road Trip plans are completed on a chronological basis, based upon the dates of travel.  In other words, January travel plans will be completed before June travel plans.  June travel plans will be completed before October travel plans, and so forth. My road trip maps are heavily dependent upon the time of year you are travelling, so please do not provide incorrect dates in order to get your routes sooner.

If you are willing to write, I would LOVE it if you would be willing to contribute a story about your experience!  For more information, please read up on how to contribute to Take Back Roads.

EXAMPLE COST ESTIMATE:  Someone requests a trip from Pittsburgh PA to Tampa FL.  This drive is approximately 1,000 miles each way.  Each trip would be $20 (1000/250 = 4, 4 x $5 = $20).  Printable PDF files would cost $10 each way (1000/250 = 4, 4 x $2.50 = $10).

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Why does Take Back Roads offer low cost trip planning?

It’s simple – I find a great deal of inspiration and satisfaction in the process.  In particular, I love watching your pictures and stories coming in, either on social media or via email.  I love hearing about the amazing things you’ve experienced!  There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that the work I did helped you to have an amazing vacation.  If I can help you experience our country in a more in-depth and involved manner, that’s an incredible feeling.

And, of course, I cannot go and do and see everything.  I am but one not-very-humble man.  I need your help, too.  Your road trip images and stories help me to build this site.  Your social media shares help me to grow a larger following and reach more travelers.  And I get to travel along vicariously!

Take Back Roads’ First Road Trip Plan

But more than anything, it truly gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction watching you experience our beautiful country from its thousands of back roads.  This entire process was inspired from working with a follower who reached out to me for help.  We worked together, corresponding via email for a couple weeks.  We crafted what became an epic cross country back road adventure for her:  a five week 7,000+ mile mega-journey that took her south, west, north, and back east across some of the most beautiful landscapes America has to offer.

Watching Melinda’s cross country experience remotely was surprisingly fulfilling for me.  Receiving her emailed images and seeing her social media posts gave me an unexpected boost.  My inspiration and energy for blogging was way up, and I found myself anxiously looking forward to receiving the next update.

I realized one evening that I needed to do this again.  I HAVE to help others travel.  More than just inspiring people through my images and stories, I WANT to actually HELP you plan your trip.  To have a hands-on role in helping you to get out there and see the country like I see it.  To experience America like I’ve been experiencing it since 2013, when I first started Take Back Roads.

This is a way for me to take a more active role in ensuring that you explore and experience everything America has to offer.  I have a serious travel bug – help me to scratch the itch while simultaneously helping you to plan your next great road trip!

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2 thoughts on “Plan Your Next Road Trip

  1. This is a great service! And reasonably priced. I am excited to create a nice road trip without worrying about it.

    1. Robin,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback!

      I’m excited to work together to plan an excellent trip for you!

      Thanks again

      SB

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