Planning one of my road trips is actually quite a bit of fun. It all starts out with a general idea of the area I would like to visit - for my recent trip I flew into Memphis, Tennessee and drove about 1,000 miles (including numerous detours).
Once I have determined the areas I’d like to visit out come the maps - paper maps - not Google, at least not yet. I start with a large map of the United States and look over the states I’d like to photograph. I get a very approximate idea of the roads I’d like to take - the local, “light black roads”, or what the author Least Heat Moon calls the Blue Highways of America, on the map, and highlight them in yellow, placing close attention to the towns that my trip will pass through.
Now comes Google. First, I use the itinerary on the maps to lay out the route on Google Maps to try and get an idea of the total number of miles I’ll be traveling, and the distance I hope to travel each day. It might be as few as 25 miles, or as many as 300 - it just depends on what I see that I want to photograph. Next comes a search of the towns on and around my route. A great resource is Atlas Obscura. I look for towns with populations of less than 500 - the farming communities, old industrial towns, train stops, or unique locations with something of interest.
Once all this is done I start to pack. I have an Excel spreadsheet with everything I would need on a trip, broken down by categories (laptop - camera gear), by weather (hot - cold - freezing - all the above), clothes, personal stuff - you know - toothbrush, soap, shampoo, rain gear, travel documents - it’s a pretty extensive all-encompassing list. It’s based on my personal need, but let me know if you would like me to email you a copy.
I lay out everything I need, grab my three yellow North Face duffel bags (the best), my sleeping bag, my foam mattress for the back of the car (I have a Cherokee), a couple of Garmin GPS receivers, and start packing. Fill the car up with gas, wiper fluid, etc., check one last time to make sure I have all the important stuff (laptop and camera gear), record the mileage and head out.
It’s a fabulous way to travel, full of interesting surprises, amazing experiences, and fascinating people. Oh, and don’t forget the food. Everything (almost) always tastes better on the road.
If anyone would like to join me on one of my trips, for the entire trip or just a segment, drop me an email and let’s see what we can work out.