“The great American road trip is still one of the best ways for families to relax and reconnect with one another,” said Stacey Barber, executive director at AAA Travel Information & Content. Earlier this year, AAA reported that the old school family road trip remains the most popular type of vacation for families. A road trip requires a good amount of advance planning and mapping out. This is where you as a travel agent can step in and help your clients connect the dots.
While some clients like to have their stops all mapped out and some would rather fly by the seat of their pants, in both cases let your clients know that having a travel agent only a call or email away can make things a lot easier. Planning a domestic road trip is no different than planning a trip to Europe. Hotels and sightseeing are still crucial and you are the best tool tool forplanning out the details. Reading about places to go is fun and enticing—but planning a trip is stressful for clients. There is so much data available online, in magazines and books, and even on TV. Communicate that you will be able to streamline this process by looking at everything from the size of the rooms at hotels to the best dining options that are available, onsite and nearby. You also will know the hidden gems in a given destination either from visiting or because you received feedback from a previous client who came home and raved about something they found by chance. Tell them to leave the stressing and scheduling to you—so they can just dream about their destination and not have to worry.
We’ve researched a few of the best routes for you to show to your clients, and have added some Viator products you could book for them along their journey.
Route: Times Square, New York, to San Francisco, California
America’s first transcontinental highway stretches 3,000 miles through Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. This route is perfect for international travelers flying into the U.S for their trip. The variety of scenic landscapes invites travelers to take in old country roads or explore big cities before emerging themselves in the infamous outdoor offerings in the American west.
Experience the Philadelphia cheesesteak like never before on this guided, 2-hour, small-group Segway tour. Learn how this iconic sandwich got its start and taste the best of Philly’s famous cheesesteaks — from Chinatown to Society Hill and South Philadelphia
Enjoy a private introduction to downtown Pittsburgh on this guided tour in and around the ‘Steel City’ from the top of Mount Washington down to the University of Pittsburgh.
Discover Chicago’s food, history, architecture and culture on this 3-hour, small-group walking tour trying quintessential staples from local restaurants and specialty food shops like Pizano’s Pizza and the Berghoff, the oldest family run-establishment in Chicago.
Salt Lake City, UT
Enjoy a performance from the Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning, 360-member, all-volunteer Tabernacle Choir and see many of the city’s popular sites, like the Utah State Capitol building.
San Francisco, CA
Hop on a ‘70s-era VW bus and get to know the hippie past and hipster vibe that make up San Francisco today. Starting and ending at Fisherman’s Wharf, this 2-hour sightseeing tour takes you around the city, including Chinatown, North Beach, the Castro, the Mission, downtown and more.
Route: Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Bishop, California
Once having been the longest highway in the United States (it went all the way to Long Beach between 1936 and 1964), Route 6 is still a great way to experience parts of the country you might otherwise never visit. Between New England and the Sierra Nevada mountains lies the heart of America — big rivers and Great Lakes, prairies and plains, gold mines and small towns, hot springs and historic sites and plenty of roadside surprises. What truly makes this 3,652-mile-long stretch charming is that it isn’t a heavily trafficked roadway.
Las Vegas, NV
Discover the natural wonder of Antelope Canyon on a tour from Las Vegas. With its location on Navajo Nation land, the slot canyon can only be visited with timed entry and a Navajo guide.
The Denver foothills are packed with some of Colorado’s best sights, from Red Rocks Amphitheater to Lookout Mountain and scenic Lariat Loop. Plan a pit stop here to take in panoramic views of the mountain surroundings and stroll through small, historic towns before stopping in Evergreen for drinks.
Visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during your time in Cleveland, Ohio and see the exhibits at your own pace during your self-guided tour. Musicians in the Hall of Fame include The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, the Supremes, Metallica, Michael Jackson, and Parliament/Funkadelic.
Unlike other Salem walking tours, this witch walking tour is led by a practicing witch, so you can learn about the history of witchcraft, as well as how it’s practiced today. Along with visiting the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, you’ll participate in a real magic circle and help raise energy for a blessing.
Route: San Diego, CA to Key West, FL
Head across southern America and take in the expansive views of the Rio Grande, marvel at the masterpieces in the art colony of Marfa, dip your toes in the powder-white-sand of Pensacola Beach and snap some pics of the scaled creatures at Alligator Point experiencing the best food southern America has to offer along the way.
San Diego, CA
Spend the day communing with California’s marine life during this 4-hour, small-group, wildlife and whale watching tour aboard a vintage sailing yacht.
Seeing the sunrise in Albuquerque along the Rio Grande is one of the most beautiful things you can do in the city, and this sunrise hot air balloon ride takes you to one of the best vantage points to see it—the sky.
No trip to Austin is complete without experiencing the city’s live music scene, but with so many venues and countless bands, it’s tough to choose what shows to see. Enjoy some of the best live music the city has to offer on this Sixth Street music tour, where you’re whisked to three venues, with entry and transportation included.
New Orleans, LA
Discover New Orleans’ Cajun and Creole cultures on this full‐day swamp and plantation sightseeing tour. In a small group, head deep into the secluded bayous to witness Cajun living and spot native wildlife. Then, visit Oak Alley Plantation and Laura Plantation to view stunning architecture, oak‐lined esplanades, and sugar cane fields. Upgrade your ticket to include a high-speed airboat ride through the bayous.
Key West, FL
Get ready for fun in the sun on this dolphin watch and snorkeling adventure off the coast of Key West. Sail away from the island city of Key West and see dolphins swimming alongside the boat, then jump in for a shallow-water snorkel at the Key West National Wildlife Refuge with many different species of marine life.
Route: North Carolina to Oregon
Jump on a dual-sport motorcycle and tackle this 5,000-mile, off-road, westward-only route to the Pacific Ocean and experience the Great American Outdoors firsthand. The trail, which consists of a variety of dirt, gravel, forest, and farm roads is definitely not a road trip for the faint of heart.
Here are a few different tips to give your travelers before embarking on their trip!
Divide up the roles.
Some people are good at navigating; others couldn’t read a map if they tried. Some people are good at planning meals, while others think a big bag of chips counts as a good dinner. Before their departure, suggest clients figure out who does what well, and how to divvy up tasks in a way that gets things done efficiently and to the satisfaction of all.
Clean the car before and during the trip.
Failing to clean the car before and during the road trip can bring on more chaos than expected. When confined to a small space those gum wrappers and tufts of dog hair become more and more apparent and frustrating. As the trip proceeds, encourage them take time every couple of days to purge the car of junk, or else the accumulated items will start to drive them mad in the close quarters of a road trip.
Allow for spontaneity.
Though planning out the general route of the trip is important, keep in mind that part of the fun is being spontaneous, so build time for freedom into the route. When booking nightly lodging in advance, underestimate the daily mileage to allow for off-highway quests for seasonal produce stands or unscheduled stops at roadside attractions.
Keep it cool.
Whether your clients have children or not, make sure they include lots of accessible, wholesome snacks when packing. One great way to do that is to invest in a good cooler, keeping fresh food in the car can help them to eat healthy on a budget.
Bring a real map.
Because paper doesn’t lose power, it proves to be a valuable resource, even in the technologically advanced age we live in with GPS and iPhone and Android apps.
Make more room.
Space is at a premium on a road trip: look for ways to optimize space inside the car. Consider investing in a Skybox for the roof. This is great for skis and snowboards in winter, and for sand-covered beach umbrellas and deflated stand-up paddleboards in the summer.