The Best Road Trip Planning Tools & Apps

Road trip planning tools can help you get inspired and plan your next road trip.

The days of spontaneous road trips are gone. I mean sure, you could just get in the car and drive, but don’t you think you’d miss a few amazing stops along the way?

Any road trip requires proper planning – be it a girls getaway to the beach or a #vanlife tour to all the national parks. Road trip planning tools can inspire you to take a trip, help you plan out the details, and navigate you along the way.

I’ve used these tools to plan my own road trips, from driving the Pacific Coast Highway to a road trip to Utah’s National Parks. Based on my experience, these are the 15 best road trip planning tools to plan your next adventure.

Prepare for your next road trip with the complete road trip packing list for any USA road trip.

The Road Trip Planning Tools You Need

Looking for more road trip planning tips? Check out these posts!



You’ve probably heard of Pinterest before. It’s one of the most popular social media platforms out there, but it’s most valuable when used as a search engine. Think Google with pictures!

Whether you’re planning a road trip to a specific destination or just looking to be inspired, Pinterest can guide you. Try searching for key phrases like:

  • Best USA road trips
  • Utah National Park road trip
  • Road trip to all US National Parks
  • Pacific northwest road trip

Pinterest allows you to search now and save pins for later. You can build an entire Pinterest board dedicated to your dream road trip. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to road trips!

Pinterest is the best tool to get inspired to take a road trip.

Travel Blogs

Okay, so I’ll admit I’m biased here, but travel blogs are one of the best resources for planning any type of trip. You’ll get insight from those that have been there and done that.

Start by looking at posts by bloggers you subscribe to. If you already subscribe to their blog, there’s a high chance you enjoy the same type of trips. Some of my favorite travel blogs for road trip inspiration are:

While you’re here, feel free to check out my guides for inspiration too 😉

The Outbound Collective

This site focuses exclusively on outdoor adventures. Their content is community-sourced. Individuals from all over the world contribute to their site. The Outbound Collective is the perfect site for road trip inspiration and finding epic hikes and side trips.

Search for stories (posts written by The Outbound community) in your destination. For example, search for Big Sur if you’re planning a Pacific Coast Highway trip.


Google My Maps

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual learner, but Google My Maps is my favorite road trip planning tool. Google allows you to create custom Google Maps and plot all your points of interest on one map.

After I’ve done a little research, I plot everything I’ve read about on one map. I sort points of interest into categories, like hikes, photography spots, and restaurants. Once I know where everything is, I start to plan out my route and build a tentative itinerary.

For more on using Google My Maps and my travel planning process, check out my detailed guide to stress-free travel planning.

Use Google My Maps to plot out all your points of interest for your road trip.


Roadtrippers is one of the most popular tools dedicated specifically to road trips. This road trip planning tool gives you the ideal route from point A to point B.

To use Roadtrippers, start by entering your starting point and your ending point. Toggle on the various categories like outdoors & recreation, food & drink, or camping & RV to find points of interest along your route.

I love using the outdoors & recreation category to discover nearby parks and hikes to stretch my legs during long road trips.

The best part of road trippers is that it’s collaborative! You can save your routes and share them with friends. Multiple people can contribute to one road trip, taking everyone’s interests into consideration!

If you don’t know where to begin, check out some of Roadtrippers pre-made trips, like this one for Denali National Park in Alaska (on my bucket list!).

As of Summer 2020, Roadtrippers covers destinations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

While the base version is free, you can only add up to 5 stops along your route. For longer trips and collaborative functionality, you’ll need a $29.99 per year subscription to Roadtrippers Plus.

Roadtrippers is a popular tool to find points of interest along your road trip.

Rand McNally Trip Maker

If you’re looking to plan a road trip with more than 5 stops and want to customize your route, Rand McNally Trip Maker is for you. You can create road trips for free and drag and drop your route to customize.

You can use the detailed filter to find things to do. Categories range from photography spots and quirky, off-the-beaten-path attractions.

You can also email and print your itinerary and driving directions directly from the tool. This might seem old school, but printed directions and maps for backcountry road trips can be a lifesaver!

Google Docs

Planning a road trip requires a lot of coordination. There are so many things to consider – what to see, where to stay, what to pack – that it can feel overwhelming. I like to make detailed to-do lists and checklists to help me plan a trip, ensuring I don’t forget a thing.

I usually use Google Docs for list building. There’s plenty of other tools out there, like Wunderlist and Trello, but Google Docs is enough to get the job done. Sometimes I even use the notes application on my iPhone to jot down quick to-do lists before I forget.

Saving to-do lists in Google Docs lets you access your road trip planning to-dos from any device. You can even save the document offline in case you need to access it without an internet connection.

Booking Your Trip

Once you’ve planned your road trip route, it’s time to book your trip. If you’re road tripping to a popular destination, like the Utah national parks, I recommend booking your accommodations at least 3 months out.

My favorite site for booking hotels is They have their own loyalty program, giving you one night free after 10 days. You also get access to “secret” prices. I’ve booked 4 and 5 stars hotels for $100 a night using these secret member rates.


The popular short-term rental site is perfect for road trips to more remote areas. If you’re road tripping to national parks and aren’t interested in camping, an Airbnb can be a great way to stay in the area without feeling like a tourist.

When I’m road tripping, I like staying in Airbnbs instead of hotels. Having a kitchen is a great way to cut down on costs when traveling, particularly for week-long trips.

Use Airbnb to search for short-term rentals near your destination.


The ultimate source for national parks, Recreation.Gov allows you to book camping and activities in parks across the country.

They even have a mobile app, allowing you to book or view your trip details on the go. Popular campgrounds are reservable online exactly 6 months out. If you’re interested in staying in these coveted campgrounds, book the day reservations become available.

If you want to camp outside of an official campground, is your ultimate guide to dispersed camping.

If you aren’t familiar, dispersed camping is the term for camping on public lands outside of designated campsites. This is allowed in most US National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. is crowd-sourced, giving you access to camping spots and reviews from users.

To find a camping spot along your route, use the map to search for free, paid, or permitted campsites nearby. While you won’t be able to book these sites ahead of time, I recommend doing some advance research and checking status conditions before your trip.

Use to find free dispersed camping spots on a road trip.


If you’re looking to dine out while road tripping, Yelp is your best friend. Search for local restaurants and read reviews to find the perfect dinner spot. I love reading through Yelp reviews for dish recommendations too!

While I hope it’s not the case, if your vehicle needs repairs on your road trip, Yelp is a great way to find local repair shops or towing companies.


Google Maps

Last, but certainly not least, is Google Maps. You’re probably already using this tool daily. But you might not be using it to its full capability.

You’ll spend at least part of your road trip without cell service. It’s so important to make sure your trip details and navigation are available without service before you set out on your road trip.

Google Maps allows you to download maps offline, ensuring you can continue to navigate after you lose cell service.

To download a map for your road trip, go to your Google Maps app and select Offline Maps from the menu. Click Custom Map, then select the area you’d like to download offline and click download.

Always remember the key to a successful road trip is being prepared (whoa, did my inner Girl Scout just come out?). Using road trip planning tools before you hit the road is the best way to have a safe and fulfilling road trip.

Final Thoughts on the Best Road Trip Planning Tools

If you’re planning a road trip, you absolutely need tools for inspiration, planning, and navigation! Google Maps is my favorite out of all the ones on this list, and it’s totally free!

Do you use any of these road trip planning tools?

Check out these posts for more road trip planning tips:

Subscribe to get the free national park guide.

Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or brands that I use. Any income helps me continue sharing national park tips and itineraries for free.

1 thought on “The Best Road Trip Planning Tools & Apps”

  1. Hello my name is Kris , came across ur blog ,here’s my story . I’m starting from California driving to skenectady New York, easy enough Hwy 80 no problem.
    Then I pick up my new boat !!! Not terribly big 28 ft 5000lbs, I’m driving a gmc 2500 diesel ,
    I don’t want to haul over the Rockies or Tetons .
    Haven’t done a lot of travel in the east coast for 35 yrs,
    How’s the stretch between New York and say St Luis ?
    Hwy 90to cleavland then 71 to Columbus /then 70 to Indianapolis to St Luis.
    The truck will pull the boat , just not uphill 12 hrs a day
    Any help or suggestions would be great
    Thanks Kris

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