One of my fondest memories as a kid was a cross-country family road trip, Griswold-style, to destinations like the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Petrified Forest, Dinosaur Monument, and stops in between. I must have been 10 or 11; we took our VW mini-bus pop-up camper across our great nation and while I enjoyed it, I never gave much though about the planning that went into such a trip.
This summer, I want to give my children to the same type of experience. Our family is planning to rent an RV and hit the open road, but I really want to make sure I hit some of the great national landmarks on our excursion. 30 years ago when we made our cross-country trek, my parents relied on sources like brochures, folding maps and a Rand-McNally Atlas by which we plotted our course.
With technology at our fingertips, there are a number of resources by which you can plan your next road trip. I knew what I wanted to take the kids to see, but I didn’t know the route to take or where to stay. With this in mind, I found an online road trip planner that I decided to try called Furkot.
To get started, you’ll need to create an account, and once you have that ready and you get logged in, you can start planning your trip. The interface is basically a big map with a toolbar across the top and tabs on the left and right sides of the screen. The toolbar along the top features the controls for map navigation and user account settings. The only tab on the left is the “My Trips” tab, and that will let you create and store multiple trips in your account. On the right, we have tabs for “Trip”, “Plan”, “Sleep”, “Eat”, and “Find”.
Clicking the “Trip” tab brings up a summary of your planned journey, with settings for the duration of your driving day, fuel range, lodging preferences, and data about your total distance, average miles per day, and more. The “Plan” tab is where you plot your destinations, and Furkot calculates the best route and where to stop for the night based on the driving times you set for your trip. You can easily search for destinations by typing them in and selecting from an autocomplete menu or you can find them using the built-in tools. For our trip, I entered in the places I already knew that I wanted to visit, then ordered them for the best round trip route.
For our nightly stops, the “Sleep” tab helps you to find the lodging you’ll need for the night. As we’re driving an RV, I filtered my results for camping, but there are quite a few ways to find accommodations. Furkot integrates with a number of travel websites for booking a reservation once you have found where you want to stay. The “Eat” tab let’s you explore restaurants, wineries and breweries, coffee shops, farmers markets and grocery stores, and even provides locations for gas stations.
Once you have the broad strokes planned for your trip, you can use the “Find” tab to help you explore the nearby areas for more things to see and do. There are a variety of categories by which you can filter results: museums and manmade structures, parks and natural features, outdoor sports and activities, beach and water recreation, scenic byways and backroads, and a catchall for everything else.
I was able to plan out our entire journey on a Saturday afternoon using this extremely helpful website. Planning an excursion can be challenging and fun, and with Furkot), I was able to easily plan our summer vacation with ease.