Road tripping along California's Eastern Sierra and a few tips to help you plan your own road trip

Road trips are a blast! From the planning stage to the last bend in the road, you will be continually inspired by all of the spontaneity and discovery that naturally happens when you travel by auto.

You are on the move discovering new places. Your curiosity is peaked. You feel really, really good.

One of my favorites was when we road-tripped down US 395, which parallels California's Eastern Sierra mountains. It's a remote area that offers fantastic views of these massive mountains. I was open-mouthed at their dramatic pinnacles, spires, ridges and peaks--all set against a brilliant blue sky.

And along the way, we explored lakes, canyons, pine forests, scenic drives, quirky towns and pretty trails. Really, a very cool little road trip.

Pictured above is Alabama Hills. It's an area where many old westerns were filmed. Giant boulders and twisting canyons offered perfect cover for shootouts between the good and bad guys.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your own road trip! And just for fun, at the end of the post, I've added a few of my phone pics from our trip.

1. Plan ahead. Give yourself several hours to research and make your reservations. You don't have to do it all at once, but take the time to get everything arranged. The research is part of the fun and it will get you excited about what you are going to experience on your trip.

2. Pick a theme. As you research destinations, choose something that interests you. Examples might be wine tasting, coastal travel, fall colors, historical sites, regional areas, photography, or natural areas. Also, there are tons of scenic byways that make it easy to organize a trip.

3. Make it fit your schedule. For example, you can travel for seven to ten days and stay at 3 or four different places or take a long weekend loop-trip, stay in a different place each night, and do day-stops along the way. 

3. Be flexible on your accommodations. But know your limits. Some out-of-the-way places might have limited accommodation choices. Read the online reviews to help you determine if you want to stay there. You can usually get decent clean hotels. We recently stayed at a budget hotel in a remote area and although it was dated, it was clean, spacious, quiet and owned by a young couple who were willing to help us in any way. Their tips about the area expanded our travel in a lovely way. 

4. Take the details of your trip with you. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to think you have all of the details on your mobile phone, but that is not always the case. Include travel maps and info you've printed from the internet about what you want to see. Have the names, dates of stay, phone numbers, and cancellation policies of your accommodations. You might need a late arrival and/or change your itinerary mid-trip with still plenty of time to cancel a reservation and make a new one. Trust me, you will want these. 

5. Fill a cooler for roadside picnics. You can usually find a picnic area or do your own tailgating along the way! And you can do these pretty much year-round--even winter for hardy souls. Roadside picnics are especially good in remote areas, where restaurants are not abundant. Pack a bag with hand sanitizer, silverware, plates, napkins, cups, a small cutting board and knife, and big dish towels for makeshift tablecloths. Cheeses, smoked salmon, tinned tuna, apples, olives, crusty bread, garbanzo beans, hummus, crackers, cut veggies and nuts make wonderful roadside picnics and they last a long time in a cooler. And throw in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar for bread dunking. Always a yummy snack.

6. Bring a travel journal. Whether it's a short weekend jaunt or week-long road trip, journaling along the way will help make you a savvy and active traveler. You'll pay more attention. Your curiosity will grow naturally. Your experience will become a downright adventure as you open to new things and uncertainty. And you will delight in spontaneity. Never again will you be a ho-hum tourist waiting for things to happen. 

7. Take pictures. Taking photos on your trip is one of the easiest and satisfying ways to engage in your trip. Similar to travel journaling, you will become more interested and notice more things along the way. Suddenly the landscape you are viewing opens up into an entire new dimension. 


A few of my pics from our road trip...

Photo of the Alabama Hills recreation area...a very cool place to explore. It's run by the Bureau of Land Management, which has a nice little map showing where movies were filmed such as Tremors, and How the West was Won.

These unusual rock formations make up the Devil's Postpile National Monument that features basalt columnar shaped rocks. 

Giant boulders, domes and lakes make up a lot of the beautiful landscape in Yosemite National Park. The above three photos were taken in the eastern area of Tioga pass.  

Convict Lake is located in the Sherwin range of the Sierra Nevada. Its dramatic mountains, a paved path and good fishing make it popular destination.  


Now it's your turn. Do you have any favorite road trips or maybe some yet to do on your bucket list? Share with us in the comments section. Or join our Free Facebook Community and post your travel pics. We would love to see them and always, always need fresh ideas!

Happy road-tripping!