Planning Road Trip Overnights

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Planning road trips can be tricky: you have to consider driving time, spots you want to see along the way, food, expense, etc. On top of that, planning where to spend each night on a road trip revival means more than just plotting out driving distance and figuring out accommodations near each destination. Especially if you have children and animals along for the ride, there are a lot of considerations to think about when planning road trip overnights.

Planning stops and accommodations for an extended road trip

Planning Road Trip Stops and Accommodations

pack food

Think through your food. If you'll be camping a lot, you'll need to be prepared with camp cookware and coolers, but you may decide you want to savor the local cuisine. I like to use the Food Network site to seek out spots along my trip that have been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.

consider the weather for planning road trip accommodations

Consider the weather. You may not want to pile your family into a tent when it's snowing. Then again, if it's 80 degrees out, a hammock and a shady spot is preferable to a stuffy hotel room.

planning road trip overnight at a cabin

Give yourself a soft spot to land. The first time we tried planning road trip overnights, Nate and I mapped out a ton of bare-bones accommodations back-to-back. After a couple days, we were cranky and exhausted and just wanted to rest our heads on a real bed. Now, we prevent burnout by alternating backwoods nights with time spent in comfortable cabins. KOA offered up accommodations when we were in the process of planning road trip overnights for our Yellowstone trip, and it gave us so much peace of mind to know that we'd be in a reliable family-friendly setting with warm showers and room to stretch out at each KOA stop, whether we went for a campsite, an RV spot with electricity, a one-room cabin or a deluxe lodge.

leave some down time when planning road trip layouts

Leave some downtime. You can be up at the crack of dawn and drive furiously through the dark night, but that doesn't leave much time for making memories. Enjoy your surroundings.

what to do with furry friends

Think about your furry friends. If you're bringing them along, check the policies at each stop to see what animal rules are in place. It's a good idea to call ahead and make sure your pet will be welcome, ask if there are additional fees in place for bringing them into your room, and see if they have services on-site such as a kennel or dog run (many KOAs we visited had expansive park areas where dogs were welcome to roam).

get to know your hosts

Get to know your hosts. I always make a point to ask at the office about local attractions and insider information that may be helpful on our travels. People are always happy to share about their town!


Look for unique experiences. When booking your stays, keep an eye out for special options. Especially at KOAs, I've been amazed at the variety of fun experiences for families including yurts, teepees, tree houses, airstreams and even cabooses.

stay with friends and family when planning road trips

Consider staying with friends and family. We always try to include a stop with close relatives on each road trip, even if it means taking a bit of a detour. It's nice to have some downtime with close relatives, especially after a week or two of go-go-go touring.

when planning a road trip, always be prepared

Be prepared. Even if you seem to have thought of everything when planning road trip overnights, some force of nature will come along and mess with your plans. We've dealt with blizzards, sick kids and pets, flat tires, accidents and a whole series of diaper blowouts. Keep blankets, pillows, food and emergency supplies in the car in case you find yourself needing to make an unexpected overnight stop in the middle of nowhere. It happens.


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