Planning a road trip? Use these tools

Image: Pumba the Road Warrior in yet another motel!

As I head off on another road trip I remembered I wrote this back in January. So I updated it a bit for your summer travel plans. 

I am writing this from a motel room just outside Savannah, GA. It’s a Road Warrior road trip to see friends in the Sunshine State. 1800+ miles round trip. Brutal. The holiday traffic is unpredictable, hotel/motel prices fluctuate, places are closed. To enjoy any of it you need to plan.

Of course, these days, your best friend is your smartphone. Peer-to- peer apps like Waze can forewarn you of problems up ahead and even offer alternate routes because other “Wazers” are giving realtime information and the app’s algorithms make calculations based on this data. You just follow its instructions. It can all be done hands-free but I recommend you practice first in an area you’re familiar with.

But the old Triple A is also useful for planning. They still do TripTik planning with maps and handbooks. TripTik And their online gas calculator is useful for working out how much the trip with cost. aaa-gas-cost-calculator And who doesn’t want the cheapest gas in town? AAA will help you with it. index.aspx

To find hotels, I use either the loyalty programs I am enrolled in, like Choice from Comfort Inn/Econolodge and their allied brands.  I use them because they are generally clean, comfortable, suitable for an overnight, are located near a restaurant, and are pet-friendly.

Many credit cards come with points. I have a both a Visa card and an American Express card that I run all business expenses through – even paying the big bills like my internet provider and the utilities. After many years of not cashing in those points I have enough points to fly to Australia! The Points Guy has looked at the best travel cards here.

To find rooms on the road – I still call ahead. First I ask my phone to give me pet-friendly hotels near the town or interstate intersection I want. The big sites won’t have a number for the property so I then google the property and call to see if they meet or beat the price on the internet. It gives you a chance to ask a few questions (check if they really are pet-friendly). If they’re accommodating on the phone, I’ll make the booking with them or from the booking site off of my iPhone.

Travel credit cards

A travel credit card is one whose rewards are best redeemed for travel reservations. Many credit cards offer rewards that can be redeemed in many ways, including for travel reservations. A true travel rewards card will offer the most value when its points or miles are used for travel reservations, as opposed to other options such as cash back, gift cards or merchandise. A travel rewards credit card is also more likely to offer travel-specific benefits such as travel insurance or priority service and other perks when using the card’s co-branded partner.

Travel rewards cards offer points or miles that can be redeemed for travel reservations. These rewards primarily come in two ways. First, these cards may offer new applicants a sign-up bonus, typically after meeting a minimum amount of spending in a certain amount of time. For example, an airline credit card might offer new accounts 50,000 frequent flyer miles after spending $3,000 within three months of account opening. Also, a travel rewards card will offer rewards for spending, often including a bonus for purchases from the airline or hotel partner, or for purchases from certain categories of merchants.

Once your account gains enough rewards, you may redeem them for award travel reservations. These might be awards made directly with hotel or airline partners, reservations booked through a designated travel agent or statement credits that reimburse you for travel reservations you’ve already booked.

There are so many finagles that I’ll leave it to the experts over here. They have looked at the Best Travel Cards 2018 and you can evaluate them against each other.

I have tons of tips, but no time. How about you add yours below? I know Discus is a pain to join but without it I get massively spammed, so please do it. I want to hear more from you all!

I love the comment about the Gas Buddy app, left below.