Road Trip 101

As air fares skyrocket and the economy falters, some Americans are choosing to drive to their vacation destinations. Sue Perry, Deputy Editor of ShopSmart Magazine, has some advice for making the trip as seamless as possible.

With a little planning, almost any road trip can be easier. Perry suggests starting with, AAA's website. You don't have to be a member of AAA to visit, and Perry likes their TripTik tool. TripTik maps out your route and gives you a heads up about possible construction delays. You can also plug in stops along the way, like tourist destinations, hotels and restaurants. "You print it out, and there you have your personal itinerary," says Perry. is another site that Perry likes. Cost2Drive helps travelers calculate how much they'll spend on gas getting to and from their destination. "It will give you the average price of gas that you're likely to pay along the way, and it even plots out your carbon footprint," says Perry. The site features a "galculator" which calculates your driving costs based on the make and model of your car.

If you're not going far and are just looking to save money on your daily commute, Perry suggests visiting This site relies on local "reporters" to submit the gas prices in their area, allowing you to compare prices without making the rounds yourself. "You can find your 15 cheapest places to buy gas [and] your 15 most expensive places to buy gas," says Perry. If you choose to submit prices to the site, you are automatically entered to win weekly prizes.

If you know you want to get away, but aren't sure where to go, Perry says visiting may help. "The same people that do the maps plotted out over 300 road trips that their editors have tested and tried," says Perry. Here, you'll find suggestions on hotels, restaurants, national parks, etc. - everything to make your trip research easier. "If... you don't know where to go, go to this site because you'll find great ideas," says Perry.

Day trips can be fun, too. To find out how far from home you can travel on just one tank of gas, visit This website gives users suggestions for sites they can visit on a full, half and quarter tank of gas. "Just type in where you're starting from... and five ideas will pop up - five little trips," says Perry. You'll also get three points of interest recommendations, which can be fun stops along the way.

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By Erin Petrun