Plan Your Next Road Trip

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.  

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.  (Jump to Trip Planning Costs)  On average, every 250 miles of route planning takes around 30-45 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.

Which type of plan would you like to buy? (Jump down to Plan Costs for more information)(required)

Trip Priorities - pick at least one and no more than three(required)

What type of overnight accommodations will you be using? (check more than one if needed)(required)

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?  Are you traveling to visit family or friends for the holidays?  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. 

    NOTE:  I no longer provide specific locations for overnight accommodations.  In addition to adding a significant amount of time to the planning process, I also do not want to be liable should something go wrong during your stay.  

  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.

    For Detailed Plans, 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.

    For Detailed Plans, every map (whenever possible) will end your day of driving at the location where I recommend you spend the night.  I will consider your preferred style of accommodations and do my best to end each day of driving close to multiple options for you to choose from.    NOTE:  I do NOT book rooms nor make reservations for you, nor do I provide recommendations for specific accommodations.

    For Just the Basics Plans, each map will consist of a starting point, plus nine additional waypoints and/or destinations.  Instead of breaking down each leg of your trip based on what I’m recommending as a full day of driving, Just the Basics plans only take the specific route into consideration.  It’s up to you where and when to stop and start each day of your road trip.  Google maps limits a route to a maximum of ten waypoints (including your starting point), so Basic Plans maximize the mileage included per leg of the journey to reduce the time needed to create your plan.

    Back To Submission Form

    A Rand McNally Road Map for planning routes

    1. What will “Detailed Plan” Road Trip Maps look like?

      Great question!  As I mentioned above, your detailed road trip plan 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.  It will also often include a handful of highlights to consider visiting along the way.  In many cases, these highlighted attractions (often a museum, park, restaurant, hiking trail, etc) will be one of the destinations pinned in the Google Map link.

      For detailed plans, I will write a brief paragraph about why I picked the route that I did, as well as highlighting specific things you can see and do along the way.  I’ll include links to websites (whenever possible) hosted by locations along your route, with the goal being to provide links that take you directly to “plan your visit” or “things to see and do here” pages.  I include links to specific destinations I used as waypoints on your trip, and any additional spots I’m recommending that are not far out of the way (if it’s not specified as a waypoint on your map, I’ll provide both Google Map links so you can see the location, plus website links if possible).  As much as I can, I’ll end each day in an area where there are a number of overnight accommodations for you to pick from for your stay.

      A few examples of road trip maps:

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    2. What do “Just the Basics” road trip plans look like?

      Another great question!  The actual maps are going to look very similar, although on the basic plans, they typically encompass more than one day of driving on each map – roughly 400-500 miles on each map.   The biggest difference is that I don’t provide nearly as much information about why I chose the route, nor the various things to see and do along the way.  Additionally, I do not provide links to websites of destinations, and may only provide 1 or 2 spots not specifically on your route to consider checking out.  As the name implies, a “just the basics” plan is only going to provide you with your route to follow, and very little else.

    3. What other perks are included in road trip plans?

      In addition to the maps and great insights and information that you will receive with your plan, every person who purchases a Take Back Roads road trip route will also gain exclusive access to our Route Planning Group on Facebook.  The group is an active forum where members share information, ask and answer questions, post pictures and stories, and so much more!  It’s a great place to get well-rounded and objective info for your trip!

  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!

Back To Submission Form

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 always 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. FROM THERE, the cost will depend on whether you pick a “Just the Basics” plan or a “Detailed Plan” option.  The charges for each plan are calculated in the same manner, though:  I generate a rough estimate of the total distance of your trip.  I use the starting and ending points, plus any destinations in between that you provide to calculate approximately how many miles the trip is one way.  I divide the total distance by 200 miles, which is then multiplied by the specified rate (see below).  For a round trip cost, I divide the full length of your drive by 200 and multiply by the specified rate.  The minimum charge for a road trip plan is $20, regardless of distance.  NOTE:  When calculating mileage & cost, I always round up.  Due to the amount of work involved in planning and the fact that back road routes tend to add mileage and work, this is the most fair way for me to do business.
    1. For a Detailed Plan, every 200 miles is $10.
    2. For a Just the Basics plan, every 200 miles is $5.
    3. EXAMPLES:
      1. A one way road trip is 1,500 miles.  Since 1,500 does not evenly divide by 200 (7.5), I round up to 8 maps to determine the charge.
        1. A Detailed Plan for this trip would be $80.
        2. A Basic Plan for this trip would be $40.
      2. A round trip road trip is 350 miles one way.  Thus, the round trip would be 700 miles, but since this does not evenly divide by 200 (3.5), I would round up to 4 maps to determine the charge.
        1. A Detailed Plan for this trip would be $40.
        2. A Basic Plan for this trip would be $20.
  3. If your plan includes a vehicle (or other factor) that requires special considerations (due to size, length, mobility etc), I add $5 per map to cover the additional work needed (regardless of which plan option you pick!).  If you are driving a large RV, hauling a vehicle, or have other circumstances that require additional consideration when mapping your route, it often doubles the amount of time I need to develop your plan.  *Please do not be dishonest about the vehicle you are driving to save the money on the trip planning cost:  this could cause you to end up in a location where your vehicle cannot proceed.*
    **I must advise you that because there is no database for bridge load limits nor height restrictions, I cannot guarantee that oversized vehicles can safely traverse the route provided!**
  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 final price for your trip by $5.  I have to be able to confirm that you’ve followed our social media account for this discount to apply.  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.  Any additional maps will be charged at half price)
  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 soonerNOTE:  If your trip occurs within approximately one month from when you first contact me, an fee will be added in order to expedite your plan.  For basic plans, the fee is $10, and for detailed plans, it’s $20.  In addition, if we charge the expediting fee, I do not offer any of the aforementioned discounts.
  8. Once your Road Trip plan has been generated, we do not offer refunds for any reason Due to the amount of work and time involved, I cannot and will not refund any money once I have created and sent your road trip plan – even if you do not complete the trip.  If I’ve only completed a portion of your plan, I will refund the unused portion of your funds on a pro-rated basis (in other words, if I’ve only completed 60% of the planning, I will refund 40% of your money).
  9. There’s a new perk for route planning clients:  membership in our exclusive Facebook Group, where planning clients are able to share advice, insights, feedback, questions and concerns, pictures, stories, and much more!  Become a part of the group today by purchasing a road trip plan, and you’ll be able to gather even more useful information about your road trip!

Back To Submission Form

Why does Take Back Roads offer low cost road trip maps?

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!

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.

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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