Julie Ferguson (BLOG) is not just my co-author on books, but also a best friend and road trip companion. We go to lots of unusual spots, sometimes for no reason, like the time we went Nowhere (Nowhere, Arizona) just because of its name.
We know a lot about road trip planning and girl getaways. In fact, Julie is about to open an Etsy Shop based on girlfriend getaways (will announce when this is open).
Here's some basic advice:
1. Determine the destination. Now, sometimes the destination can be a circuit - you aren't stopping and staying anywhere, you simply want to go from A to B, see something and go back. Try to determine two different routes so you can go there one way, back another. The other option is to see things on the right side of the road in both directions, so you might pass a cemetery on the left side, to stop there on the way back.... Sometimes, the option is to go from home to a haunted inn to spend the night, but don't waste a good road trip just traveling nonstop....
2. What is between A and B? One trip, we decided we wanted to go to Prescott, AZ and stay in a haunted hotel room (Abby's room at Hotel Vendome), so we chose to take the unusual route there. That unusual route, when we plotted it out, took us by some rural towns and historic cemeteries we hadn't seen before including an abandoned ghost town. So, we sat down with Mapquest and looked at the towns in between, looked them up to see if they were mining towns (most often abandoned) and planned which ones to hit by photos we found on google image searches and Google Earth (your planning friend - more below) that allowed us to get down and see the area.
3. Sights in the places between A and B. Do google image searches of "(small town name) abandoned buildings" OR "(small town name) hauntings" OR "(small town name) historic" OR "(small town name) cemetery." You can also look for things like "(small town name) UFO sighting" OR "(small town name) Bigfoot sighting." Now, you have a list of possible places you want to see.
4. Google Earth. Ultimately, Google Earth is a great trip buddy, as is Mapquest. On Mapquest, you can click above on symbols to find hotels, restaurants, gas stations and plot out pit stops too. You can also drag the person symbol in Google Earth in the upper right down to the street and see the view from the Google Van if they have archived that drive. This gives you a real good idea of the location, its access, and other pertinent planning knowledge. Check out my YouTube channel playlist for Google Earth tours of para sites.
5. Be flexible/adaptable. Don't be afraid to do a lot of U-turns. We do them regularly. We know we will regret if we don't go back and take a picture, use a bathroom facility, or sit at a scenic overlook and have a picnic. That's how we get things like this -
vulture eating a rattlesnake
turned around at an abandoned farmhouse when we saw someone on a stake - a really creepy scarecrow
Just to make trips a bit more fun, Julie and I pack a cooler with wrap sandwiches and lots of water, fruit and nuts! We also have a policy to take pictures of boats in the desert because it seems like it'd be uncommon, but everywhere we do, we find them!
And, upon occasion, we must take pictures of feet on vacation (a shot of our feet in a location that shows where we are visiting). Our feet have been all over the country!
Above all, be playful, flexible, and seek an adventure, not an end point. Some of the best things we ever found were down a road we wouldn't of traveled normally, but turned down by accident.
Always ask, "what's around the next corner?"
didn't look like much, until we peeked inside -
and the perfect selfie opportunity -