Please sign in to post.

Resources to plan a USA-Canada crosss-country driving trip

I am thinking a planning a leisurely cross-country driving trip from the Pacific northwest to the northeast of the US and Canada and back.

Does anyone have any experience using an internet-based planning platform, including AAA? I'm interest in your opinions of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom.

Posted by
5262 posts

I don't use a "planning platform" but I use AAA for maps and guidebooks. In Portland you should be able to get pretty much anything from your local AAA office. Here in Olympia the choices were a little more limited but still plentiful. Consider a road atlas to give you a cross-continental overview plus individual state and province maps.

If your timetable is leisurely and you don't plan on peak destinations at peak times, you can take this trip without a lot of advance planning. I did a five-week road trip to Maine and back last spring, with a few set destinations and dates but also a lot of spontaneity. My basic tools were maps, a "dumb" cell phone, and a tablet computer. Each night I'd use motel wifi to plan the next day, sometimes reserving then and sometimes later that day by phone.

Posted by
14908 posts

I've always found the AAA books and maps to be a great resource. Your local AAA office should be able to order all the maps and books you'll need.

If you are planning to visit national parks, large cities, and/or other very popular places, it's a good idea to book rooms in advance. I've found that on a long road trip, it really helps to have a reservation every 5-7 days just to keep myself on pace.

Posted by
5161 posts

If you are a AAA member you simply go online and order any map or resource you want and it is mailed to your home.

Don't forget the travel section of your local library. I often find some interesting ideas there!

If not an AAA member, every state has a tourism bureau. Simply go online and order free maps and info about that state to be mailed to you.

I often find that the AAA discounts on admissions and hotel stays usually cover the cost of the membership and I get roadside assistance as well if needed.

Posted by
3659 posts

Don't forget Moon Guide Books, they have the US covered in detail like no other series.

https://moon.com/books/

Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, UP Michigan, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Ontario, etc.

Posted by
6635 posts

It would be interesting to know what resources visitors from the UK, Germany, France, etc., use when they are planning trips to the US. Just as RS is slanted to places and things in which US visitors would be interested in Europe, is there a EU-based travel writer to which European travelers use as a good reference for the US? Chani uses AAA - is that widely available before you get here?

It would be even more interesting to know what their advice for "not looking like a tourist" in the US would be. (joke).

Posted by
5262 posts

Sweats and sandals without socks, probably! ;-)

Posted by
308 posts

Thanks everyone. Had not heard of Moon Books so thanks for that one.

Since this could be several weeks, I am looking for an electronic planner...mapping...drive time estimators, please to record reservations, etc. Looks like AAA might have that.

Hmm...how to 'not look like a tourist' in the US? Wear a 'baseball-style' hat and a t-shirt with words on it. It's OK if you bring one from home because Americans like to wear printed t-shirts from abroad.

Posted by
14908 posts

Chani uses AAA - is that widely available before you get here? Nope, that advice is based on years of travel when I lived in California and since then, picking up books and maps when I get there. I did use CAA (Canadian) online when I planned a trip to BC, after returning to Israel. AAA and CAA maps are the best.

It would be even more interesting to know what their advice for "not looking like a tourist" in the US would be. In San Francisco, wearing shorts and sandals in summer labels you as tourist . . . especially when you add the "I love SF" sweatshirt because it's so dang cold.

Posted by
5262 posts

Via Michelin offers driving directions and time estimates. So does Google Maps. I think Google might work better in the US because it differentiates between city names in different states. I just tried "driving" from my home to New Haven, Connecticut, and Michelin recognized only "New Haven, US" which turned out to be in Indiana. Google offered a choice of multiple New Havens in different states.

But Michelin probably isn't tracking your every move in order to sell you to advertisers. Google is, if that matters to you.

Here in the northwest, in winter, the way not to look like a tourist is to wear a Gore Tex parka, wool hat, and fleece vest over cargo shorts and sandals without socks. (I prefer to look like a tourist and keep my feet dry.)

Posted by
5 posts

You need to search the App Store for tools to map your route and give you estimated arrival times, mileages, etc. Mapquest is the first one that comes to mind. I just used it last weekend for a trip through Missouri and Illinois. Read the reviews, then download and try out a few free apps. You need to get the hang of it and also figure out which features you require BEFORE your trip starts.

Posted by
288 posts

If you are driving through Colorado put a mountain bike that is worth more than your car on top of your car to look local.