Planning a Road Trip in 5 Simple Steps

(with some shots from the Pacific Coast Highway to make it prettier)

Knowing where to start with planning & budgeting for a road trip can be difficult. It’s a lovely thought, taking a year out and free-styling your way around the planet as and when and WHERE you fancy. But if like us, you work all year long, saving for those big trips – clasping onto every ounce of adventure that is available to you in your annual leave allowance – then effective planning of the trip is vital. How do you see as much as you can, as budget friendly as possible, in restricted amounts of time?

Mr B and I love to travel. We want to see the world, with a thirst for new experiences. But we also love our life together and we especially love our home. Setting it up has been the biggest challenge we’ve ever had to face and to throw caution to the wind, sell up, pack up and solely travel would go against all we have worked for and want from our future. Trying to focus on both travel dreams & settling down can feel like an almost impossible mission.

We’ve mastered a way to allow us over the past few years to plan & tick off some bucket list adventures whilst still working our day jobs, paying a mortgage and setting up shop for the future. It might not help you at all but it works pretty darn well for us. (We try to use this method to plan all of our trips, not just road trips. It really helps!)

Step 1

Pinterest. Pin, pin, and pin again. This is the foundation for every trip for us. Pinterest offers a wealth of knowledge, tips and beautiful images to salivate over. It will certainly give you an idea or two!

Step 2

Map It Out. I use Google My Maps. I start by adding every single one of my pins to get an overview of the points of interest. I then add another layer of food places, another layer of hotels and so on. Add as many layers as you think will help. We’ve incorporated layers of scenic drives, travel points eg. Ports/Airports. If it’s on your mind, it’s on your map! Once everything is mapped you can start deleting all of the points that just wouldn’t be logical in your timeframe. For example, that famous doughnut shop you’ve pinned 300 miles out of your way, I don’t think you’ll be going there. With a refined sense of what you want to see, step 4 becomes soooooo much easier.

Step 3


A) Decide on a time to go, work out how long and how much you can save monthly to that point and this overall figure is your budget – Simples.


B) Plan your dream route and itinerary, work out the cost of the ideal trip – no negotiating – and then work out how long it will take to save monthly. Set the date! Sometimes, it’s only worth doing a trip if you are going to do it properly. If you have to cut so much from the tour that it becomes unrecognisable, maybe it’s worth spending a little longer saving.

Step 4

Plan your route. You’ll almost see an obvious route amongst your mapped points. Remember to keep it loose. If you need to chop and change the route for any reason, allow yourself the freedom to make adjustments on your journey.

Step 5

Book your main accommodation, flights and any significant factors such as car rental or major excursions. Accommodation in major cities or tourist points can be pricey and booked up in peak season. We’ve opted for Google Flights and Avis for our next adventure – these are always our preferred choice and always return the best prices in our experience. For accommodation we’re testing out the success of Airbnb – so far, an absolute pleasure to use.

All of the finer detail will fall into place.

We’ve used this method numerous times, whether it be for 4 days in the Lake District, a week travelling around Cornwall, a week in Iceland or even 5 days in California and this formula helped us fit in a lot of bucket list ticks within budget and in each time limit. The trips you go on don't have to be epicly long adventures, let's face it - real life calls most of us back pretty quickly.

Also using this method, we’ve just planned an epic Canada road trip for 2017 across 2,000 miles! I cannot wait to go and look forward to blogging our route. Watch this space!

Tailor make your trip for you

It’s easy to read about ‘How To’ do something and to follow others recommended itineraries but I can’t highlight enough – everyone has different preferences, hobbies, budgets and time frames. So I’d try to steer clear of copying strict itineraries that might not suit your every need. Tailor make your own itinerary from snippets of various different sources. Afterall, it is your trip and your memories.


  1. Don’t copy another person’s trip or duplicate a trip you have seen on a blog/vlog. This trip is your own.
  2. SHOP AROUND! Don’t buy flights, accommodation or car rental on the first website you come across. Compare the possibilities. (Google Flights allows you to monitor the price of specific flights and notifies you if they drop!)
  3. If you have the opportunity to work extra hours for extra pay, take it – if you want something out of the ordinary, you have to do something out of the ordinary to achieve it!
  4. Don’t overshoot your budget before you even leave. Sometimes there are hidden costs or the wheel falls off, literally or metaphorically.
  5. Check if you need a visa! (Believe it or not we have arrived at the airport and discovered we hadn’t applied for one we needed – and we are normally always over prepared!)
  6. Research a few food & fuel stops. If in the event of a long day on the road, your brain is tired and your emotions might be running high, because let’s face it, we all get hangry... these little points on your map can be a total holiday saver!
  7. Download your maps – if internet is gone, this could save you a bad day
  8. Be willing to change plans and adapt wherever you need to. There is something to be said for freedom to embrace moments as well as having a nice structure and route to guide you.
  9. Speak to strangers – but only the ones that don't look like murderers ;) – other travellers have the best tips and recommendations.
  10. Live by the camera but not through it. Document it to your heart's content but remember to look with your eyes too. These moments are your life.
  11. Planning can be daunting – remember, this is an adventure!

Why not plan a multi-destination trip next time instead of just one resort. Watch the sky unfolding in your rear view... My mission in life - see as many sunsets as life allows!

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer" - Anon


- MTWP xxx

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