When we purchased our first desktop computer in 1996 and got online it added another tool to our road trip and vacation planning, previously accomplished only with road maps and travel guide books. As the years went by I increasingly used the Internet to supplement my hard copy materials until I got to the point of starting with the Internet, then checking my books and maps. I don’t think I will ever get rid of the books because they contain information that could be hard to find online, and having a physical map is so ingrained in me I can’t imagine traveling without one. The following are several resources I have used over the years to help plan our trips.
State Maps and Guides – These are a must for me. Two drawers of a filing cabinet in my garage are full of these from past trips. Each time we go to a state for the first time, I add a new file, and the states we return to I order and add the new information. You can search for each state by typing the name and “tourism” or you can visit Free State Maps and Travel Guides. Make sure to check out other freebies on the site while you are there.
Off The Beaten Path – While most of us want to check out the usual main attractions of a given state sometimes visiting the lesser known gems can really make a vacation memorable. This series of regional travel guides have been a must for me when planning a trip. You can view the series here.
Free Campsites – If your vacation will include camping (and why wouldn’t it?) this site could help shave the budget.
Home Away – There are dozens of hotel booking sites, and everyone seems to have a favorite. Home Away is a little different in that they offer houses, condos, apartments, bungalows, cabins and cottages for vacation stays. We rented a beach house using this site on Green Bay a few years ago and it was an inexpensive and wonderful experience.
There is off the beaten path and there is oddball, and I have always liked to mix them up when planning vacations. Roadside America is an excellent guide to find “offbeat tourist attractions.”
If you want to sample some of the best food where you are headed make sure to consult Roadfood. You might want to strap on a bib to catch the drool before you visit this site.