Here are some great travel and artistic resources that I would recommend to use. I use all the companies listed here and try not to list ones that I wouldn’t use myself. (I do list two that I do not use, but I explain the reason why. It is a personal preference and not a reflection on the service the companies offer.
I’ll try to update this list as I discover more tips for you. I’m just restarting this road-trip game myself.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
If you are ready to book your trip and have any questions, please feel free to email me. I will be glad to answer questions if I can or help with an itinerary upon request.
Lonely Plant Guides & Website — Lonely Planet offers guidebooks, phrase books, and e-books and PDFs that you can download to your mobile device when you are on the go.
TripAdvisor — TripAdvisor has over 500 million reviews on destinations, hotels, beaches, restaurants, and attractions. It’s a great place to ask questions any questions that you may have. You can also view user pictures to get a realistic idea of the attraction or accommodation.
AAA Travel Services — AAA offers guidebooks and maps that you can access online or in one of their travel centers. If you are an AAA member, you can get travel advice, itineraries, and small guidebooks for free. You can also buy a Rand McNally Atlas at a discount.
Wikitravel — Inspired by Wikipedia, Wikitravel is a collaborative world-wide travel guide. They have U.S. state guides, such as this one on Georgia, that can provide some tips for foreign travelers visiting the U.S. It can also help those within the state get ideas on new things to visit.
Budget Accommodations and Airfare
Booking.com – Booking.com consistently has some of the best budget rates for lodging out there. In addition to hotels, you can also find great rates on flights, car rentals and information about taxi rates. I would check this site first to see what rates are available.
Google Flights — Google Flights is a search engine that locates competitive rates from various flights and carriers. It’s a great way to seek out all of the options from the multiple carriers and then you can book with the airline directly on their website.
Kayak — Kayak is a travel search engine that gives you the ability to hunt for the best rates, especially if you are flexible on your dates. Like its sister site booking.com, it allows for you to check rates across multiple airlines and determine your best timeline.
Hotels.com — Hotels.com is another site that I’ve used for packages. For example, I flew from Dallas to Montreal, took a tour of Quebec City, and then rented a car and drove to Toronto, in which I then did some tours of the city. I got the entire package for under $1600 and purchased everything at once. It would have been much more expensive to book it all by myself and a hassle to pull together the tours and plans to make the trip work. I highly recommend it!
There are other solutions such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing that allow you to stay with homeowners either in a rented apartment or room/couch. I have not used either of these services and I’ve found several mixed reviews. I guess the trick is, like with everything, do your research first.
Megabus — Megabus is an excellent alternative way to see the U.S. for little money. It’s a double-decker bus that reminded me of a tour bus in Toronto, but it has great rates that are hard to beat. My only caveat is that the deep discounts are good for connecting states but when you try cross country, like Dallas to Chicago, it is $99 one way. (Unless I traveled on July 4th, then $15 each way!) Be flexible on your dates and you can get some great deals. Unfortunately, it’s also not available in all larger metros (like Kansas City) at this time.
Amtrak — I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a long train ride, so it is my goal this summer to take one across the country. You can find great rates if you book in advance. I was able to reserve a coach seat for $132 from Dallas, TX to Chicago, IL. You can find SmartFares available Tuesday through Fridays on their website.
eRideShare — I honestly haven’t used this but it’s one alternative to traveling if you do want to fly or drive yourself.
Zipcar — Zipcar’s availability varies by city but it’s a good way for people to borrow a rental car by the hour or for the day. It’s a good alternative for city dwellers who do not own a car but want to take a quick trip for the day.
Rental Cars — For rental cars, I use any of the sites above to try to get the best rates. You can also sometimes get good rates by booking directly with the rental agencies directly. Here are some of the ones that I’ve used and would recommend.
U.S. Government Resources
- National Traffic and Road Closures
- America’s Byways
- National Park Services
- National Register of Historic Places
- AAA Auto Club
- Allstate Motor Club
- AARP Roadside Assistance
- Good Sam Roadside Assistance
- BP MotorClub
- National Motor Club
- Encore Protection
If you are interested in starting a blog to highlight your travels (or just because), I highly recommend using WordPress. WordPress, by itself, is a FREE content management software that you can use to create blogs, business websites, and e-commerce stores. Your goal is to look for a platform to host the software. The best are ones that offer one-stop installations and give you the freedom to customize your site, such as adding plug-ins for more functionality.
BlueHost — BlueHost is one of the most trusted names in the industry for a reason. For as little as $3.00 a month, you can get a fully-functional WordPress installation with a customized domain name. BlueHost sets up your basic site after you select your free domain that comes with your package. Then you simply choose your theme and customize WordPress to your specifications. I currently use this for all of my sites and highly recommend it.
HostGator — HostGator is another trusted name in the industry and also has the classic one-click WordPress installation package. It offers unlimited disk space, emails, and bandwidth on all plans.
WordPress.com — WordPress.com offers a free solution if you wish to host a general blog online. You can have a tailored domain extension such as myblog.wordpress.com. The free site comes with limitations, however. You cannot customize it or monetize your blog without upgrading to one of the paid packages.
Email Marketing Hosting Providers
After starting your blog, you’ll want to reach out to readers who’ve subscribed. To reach out to existing readers, and to attract new readers to your publication, email marketing is a great alternative to social media and other outlets. Here are three ones that I suggest for you to use.
ConvertKit — ConvertKit is an email marketing service created by bloggers for bloggers. It is one of the top providers on the market and highly recommended. ConvertKit gives you customized automation in reaching to your readers or promoting your next book. It is kind of pricey for starting writers, however, so you can start with a service like MailChimp and then transfer your users over.
MailChimp — MailChimp’s free version is an alternative for writers, which offers email marketing for up to 1,000 email users. Once you go over the 1,000 users, they also have tied alternatives.
Campaign Monitor — Campaign Monitor is another great program that I have used for work in sending out newsletters.
Image Editing Software
Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Lightroom — Adobe Creative Cloud products are used most often by professional photographers and publishing professionals. You can do almost anything with Photoshop and Lightroom. They are good for both print and digital publications. For $10.00 a month, you can get both Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to help you make the best of your images for your blog or printing images.
Canva — Canva is a free online tool that allows you to edit your images for different forms of use. The site also contains templates for creating social media ads or announcements that help for writers that are not otherwise artistically inclined. You can select what you need in your onboarding process and they will recommend different templates.
PicMonkey — PicMonkey is another online photo editing software that allows you to choose from templates for creating software in addition to editing, touch up, and design.
GIMP — GIMP is a free, open-source image and graphics image editor used for image retouching and editing. It’s very similar to Adobe PhotoShop but can have a bit of a learning curve.