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How a Compulsive Planner Organizes a Road Trip

Updated on September 1, 2011
Camp Roberts Rest Area on US Hwy 101
Camp Roberts Rest Area on US Hwy 101
Thinking about planning my next trip during my current trip
Thinking about planning my next trip during my current trip
French Chateau Style - Ayres Manhattan Beach Hotel
French Chateau Style - Ayres Manhattan Beach Hotel

I confess, I am a compulsive planner. It’s part of my personality; planning just comes naturally to me. This trait of mine comes in handy when planning a road trip (or any kind of trip for that matter). This trait, at my compulsive level, also drives everyone crazy but there is no need to elaborate on that point in this article.

As a compulsive planner, I plan my plan. So in preparing to plan for a road trip, I’ll do some planning research. For this road trip I just happened upon an article by JamaGenee called “Trippin’ with TRIP BOOKS and How to make them.” Perfect!

JamaGenee makes some excellent recommendations for planning a trip and creating a “Trip Book.” The useful points I took from her article to include in my road trip plan included: my itinerary, route map, weather forecasts, hotel confirmation and copies of website pages with relevant information for my trip.

A Road Trip Dry Run

Thanks to Google Maps I was able to take a test run of my trip fromSanta RosatoCorona,California, for a total of 549 miles. To begin my road trip test run, I went to Google Maps and clicked on “get directions.” At this stage I am prompted to enter my starting point (A) and final destination point (B). I hit “enter” et voila! My trip is all mapped out for me with a purple line indicating my route. At this point I switch to the Satellite option and zoom in so I can see the insects on the road.

The satellite feature on Google Maps allows me to trace my trip and to “see” what I will encounter along the road. As I take my virtual dry run, I am able to make important notes regarding locations for restroom breaks, eating establishments, rest areas, gas stations, and other possible interesting sites to visit.

From my home inSanta Rosa, Google Maps instructs me to takeU.S Hwy101 south to California Hwy 1 then merge onto Interstate 280 then back to 101 all the way toL.A.InL.A.I take the 134 to the 210 to the 15 to the 91 and I’ve reached my destination! I do believe my virtual dry run took as long as the actual trip. Even so, I was able to create a detailed plan for the potty breaks and coffee stops.

Mapping Out Restroom Locations

As I take my virtual dry run, I make notes of where restrooms are located (I am very well aware of my traveling companions needs). So “driving” down 101 I make a note that inGilroy,Californiaat exit 357 there is a Burger King, Chevron gas station, Arco gas, and a Starbucks. Excellent, as stop here will accommodate several needs. This process continues into theLos Angelesarea.

There are also two State maintained rest areas along the route, one at about the half-way point in theCampRobertsarea and the other near theGaviotaState Parkjust around the corner from thePacific Ocean.

An interesting side note, at exits 66, 62A, 55, and 47B there are Targets stores, all within 20 miles of each other. Does anyone else find this interesting? No? Just me? Fine! Moving on…

Important Differences between the Virtual and Actual Trip

As I traveled the virtual route, I made an exhaustive list of all possible needs and wants stops along the way by recording the exit number at which said needs and wants is located. This does not work for this particular route.Californiais behind the rest of the country in numbering their exit signs (the State, however, is in the process of changing the signs to meet Federal regulations for funding qualifications – it’s just taking years to do). The actual exit number is posted just a few feet before the actual point you need to exit.

To compensate for this problem, my traveling companions and I kept track of the exit numbers allowing us to best guess the exit we wanted. Next time, I need to record the actual name of the exit and not just the number.

Another difference between the virtual and actual trip, businesses are constantly changing. What was there when Google uploaded the map in some instances is now gone. Also, if you are planning a Starbucks Coffee stop along with a restroom break, beware that Google Maps may indicate a Starbucks but it might actually be a Starbucks Kiosk and no restroom. Thank goodness there was a McDonalds around the corner!

How to Select a Hotel

To select a hotel that suits your needs and wants requires you to know your needs and wants. My criteria for selecting a hotel are comfort, amenities, and an on-site restaurant.

The hotel I selected after our visit inCorona, was the Ayres Hotel Manhattan Beach. This is a beautiful, French Château style hotel with a superb restaurant on-site (Matisse).

By planning well in advance of my trip, I was able to secure a 15% early bird discount for this hotel! Additionally, at check-in, we were give two 20% discount certificates to the Matisse Restaurant.

So select a hotel that will cater to all your needs and wants, look for all the discounts you qualify for, and book early. Check out the hotel’s website and take their virtual tour. Then locate the hotel on Google Maps and check out the neighborhood for what would interest you.

My companions and I had a fantastic and memorable road trip. I firmly believe my compulsive planning paid-off. I am already pre-planning my next road trip. Some day I plan not to plan a trip and take it one day at a time. I’ll need some therapy first.

Santa Rosa to Los Angeles

santa rosa, ca :
Santa Rosa, CA, USA

get directions

los angeles, ca:
Los Angeles, CA, USA

get directions


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    • kanala profile image

      Naga Krishna Kanala 

      5 years ago from India

      Good hub,the advanced technology like google maps and gps created faster travel and to choose destinations faster,I am convinced.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I'm a bit OCD when it comes to planning trips and vacations. I have to have a plan of things to do and feel uneasy if it deviates. That's maybe why I tend to go on activity holidays a lot as there's something to do each day for me to focus upon.

    • INFJay profile imageAUTHOR

      Jay Manriquez 

      6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      @Alexandra: I'm planning on it! Thanks for understanding.

    • hafeezrm profile image


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      That is nice but it takes the spirit of travel away. I travel a lot without any planning, just scribbling down some must-see places in a particular country then going to as many as convenient.

      I do not take unnecessary risks but have been to remote corners of the world like Hobart in Australia, Punta Arenas in Chile, St Petersburg in Russia, Alaska in US and Cap Town in South Africa.

      After reading your hub, I am convinced that proper planning will save one from a lot of hassles.

    • INFJay profile imageAUTHOR

      Jay Manriquez 

      7 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      That's the upside of being compulsive planners, we get better with every new opportunity! Thanks JamaGenee for your comment and I look forward to your next Trippin hub, I know you're planning one...

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Clever man! OF COURSE I couldn't resist popping over from my Trip Book hub to see how another compulsive trip planner plans trips! What a lovely surprise to find I and it are so prominently mentioned here! Thanks!

      Aren't Google Maps and Street View just the coolest things since sliced bread? (Okay, how 'bout the top five.) Besides trips, I used Street View to show a friend in another state my new flat and the neighborhood around it.

      That said, I do believe you out-plan me. (My kids will find THAT hard to believe!) And much as I hate to admit it, Claire's Trip Book in the movie "Elizabethtown" out-plans us both. I know! How can that be? How could WE leave out so much! ;D


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