After having an amazing time road tripping through Oregon and Washington, I am sharing my tips and takeaways from a 10 day Pacific Northwest Road Trip. Whether you are going to the PNW or road-tripping somewhere else, I hope these tips can be helpful for whatever road trip you have planned!
FACTOR IN EXTRA TIME ON ANY ROAD TRIP
Before our trip. I mapped out all of our stops for the day to get the total driving time plus account for the time at each stop. Rule of thumb for my family is roughly 30 minutes to an hour at each stop. On our trip through the PNW, I limited our driving to four hours or less per day. This gave us 6 hours or so of exploring each day, depending on the activity and stop.
If you aren’t sure how long you need at each stop, check the location on Google. Sometimes it’ll tell you the average time someone spends at that location.
Even with my calculations and assumptions, there were a few days where we lingered at a stop or got a later start. One major takeaway from this past trip was not to stress about it if you have to skip something. At the end of the day, you want to enjoy your trip.
SAVE MONEY BY STOCKING UP AT A GROCERY STORE FOR PICNIC LUNCHES DURING YOUR ROAD TRIP
This worked out GREAT. I was a little wary when my husband suggested that we buy cheap foam coolers and stock up on food for lunches instead of eating out for every meal. I felt like we would miss out on some lunch places (and obviously if there are some restaurants you can’t miss on your route, go for it!) but in the end, most of the time we were in the middle of nowhere when we were hungry or at a great overlook that had picnic tables. (Hello, Trillium Lake and Mt.Hood)
At the beginning of the trip, we bought two foam coolers (one for drinks and one for food) and spent under a hundred dollars for 10 lunches for 2 people. That is just under 5 dollars a person for lunch. WELL WORTH IT. Plus, it’s pretty much a requirement for any road trip to have snacks. Might as well stock up a little extra!
One tip, don’t overdo it or you will end up with wasted food that you can’t take back with you. We stuck to deli meat, sliced cheese, wraps, small bottles of condiments, and little containers of potato salad, chicken salad, a bag of veggies, some apples and snack cheese.
PLAN A BREAK HALFWAY THROUGH YOUR ROAD TRIP
This is a lesson learned. To drive from the bottom of Oregon all the way to Seattle, we stayed at a different hotel every single night. It was fine for the first week of our trip, but as the trip went on, we really could have used at least two nights in one spot, preferably an entire day with nothing planned, for example.
This was something I should have planned and have made a note of for our next trip. My suggestion is if you have a trip planned for ten days or more, plan two days/two nights of relaxation. Splurge on a B&B/cabin/beach house and relax. You deserve it.
USE OFFLINE MAPS AND GAS FINDER APPS ON ANY ROAD TRIP
If you are road tripping, chances are you will lose service somewhere along the way. It’ll happen.
The most useful app that I’ve used for when I don’t have data or service is MAPS.ME. I’ve used this on multiple trips in Europe too and it works great if you don’t want to get an international data package or search the city for a cafe with free wifi to figure out where you are.
Download the app, search for the city or state you are going to and download the offline map. From there you can bookmark all the places, hotels, restaurants, etc. that you are planning on going to before your trip and navigating will be a breeze! It can even give you directions!
For road trips, in particular, gas can get expensive. One thing that helped us save a few bucks on gas for our PNW trip was Gas Buddy. Gas can be pricey on the West Coast (compared to Michigan) and we were shocked by how gas prices varied from Washington to Oregon. We saw two gas stations only a block between them with a 10 cent difference!
Gas Buddy helped us figure out the lowest prices on our route so we weren’t going too much out of the way for a cheaper price.
I hope that our tips and takeaways from our 10 day Pacific Northwest road trip will help you on your next trip. If you don’t have a road trip planned yet, check out these awesome Wild Bum Travel Guides that have one planned for you!
Remember to have fun, linger in the moment, and enjoy the view. Happy wildbumming!