America is a country. America is an idea…America is a work in progress.*
I’m planning a road trip across the USA. Just me, two kids, an old Chevy Suburban, backpacking gear, and a stack of books.
Usually, I pick a location, pack a few guide books, and go. I can’t do that this time as there are time constraints to consider: setting aside time for visiting friends in California; and arriving in time to meet my husband at the airport when he flies in. Nevertheless, I’m determined to immerse my family in a variety of American adventures, despite having to limit the length of our stops.
Planning this trip is challenging; fortunately, the unbeatable combination of Internet resources and a collection of travel books makes this job almost easy.
Planning Resources Online
Online maps, such as Yahoo Maps or Google Maps, are a lifesaver. I’ve been playing around with the driving directions between destinations, trying to figure out the best way to get to the places that we want to see, and reasonable driving distances between stops. Before we hit the road, I’ll print out a set of driving directions, and I hope to have a public geotagged Google Map where I’ll add photos, and book links.
Kayak – This travel search engine compares the results between other popular travel search sites such as Expedia, Hotel, or Travelocity. You can also Buzz for travel ideas like the Top 10 Outrageous Bathrooms (my daughter likes this one!)
AAA – I wouldn’t dream of tackling a long road trip without the AAA safety net, but now, more than ever, I’m taking full advantage of the discounted hotel rooms, attraction tickets, and park admissions.
Travel Books Inspiring A Read Across America Road Trip
|Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature: Colleen Dunn Bates, Susan La Tempa: Books|
Some of my fondest travel memories have been inspired by Storybook Travels: a picnic lunch in Monet’s Garden, following the swallows to San Juan Capistrano, gorging on fine chocolate while sitting on a hidden staircase in the Plaza.
It’s the first book I turn to when I plan any trip, and it’s the muse behind this Read Across America Road Trip. We’ll be listening to the books on audiotape, many of which are on Audible.com, as we head to these destinations:
- Chicago, Illinois – Yolanda’s Genius by Carol Fenner
- Hannibal, Missouri -The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Taos, New Mexico – And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumwold
- Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Brighty of the Grand Canyon by M. Henry
- De Smet, South Dakota – Little House on the Prairie by L.I. Wilder
- Channel Islands NP, CA – Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Find more book & state connections in The State(s) of Children’s Books.
The Art of Freedom doesn’t offer any travel suggestions, but I just like the sentiments and the colorful way in which they are packaged. I’m taking this along for the ride, just because.
|Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip: Kirk Johnson, Ray Troll: Books|
It’s been at least six years since my son was bit by the paleontology bug, more than half his life. All he wants out of this road trip is the chance to look for fossil bones, nothing more, nothing less. So, I’m a mom on a mission to add as many of the paleontology sites mentioned in the Fossil Freeway to this road trip as I can without turning into a “paleo nerd” myself.
We’re taking this one along for my daughter, the budding connoisseur of the weird and unusual. I’ll let her guide us to these stops. Listed by state in an appendix, these humongous creations should be easy to spot on the road. She’ll also find inspiration in 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12 by Joanne O’Sullivan, as I found a few places that I wanted to visit in the adult version, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List by Patricia Schultz.
The Road Trip book isn’t as helpful as I would’ve liked as it’s limited to describing destinations along several vertical routes, while we’re mostly traveling across the country. However, for those areas where I am traveling North or South, it does describe worthwhile stops.
|Immersion Travel USA: The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions: Sheryl Kayne: Books|
Immersion Travel offers lots of recommendations for service, learning, and work trips. I found the suggestions for enjoying the Great Outdoors most helpful, even though most of the destinations require 1 week (or longer.) I’ll leave this book at home as I’ve gleaned what I need for this trip, but I’ll keep it on hand for future planning.
With a Little Help From My Friends
I emailed a tentative itinerary to my friends, and got back some fabulous ideas. Now, I think I’ve got this planning under control. I’ve laid out a fairly ambitious itinerary, but I left some room for last minute changes. Can you think of any essential travel resources that I’ve missed?