Recently, we decided that this year we would take our first big road trip: two weeks of driving around the Western U.S. to visit breweries, national parks, and run in the Yellowstone Half marathon. As I sat down to try to plan this monster trip, I ran into a few conundrums: How to break up the trip into do-able driving chunks for small children, find cool breweries, find the best national and state parks to stay at, and how to make it all work in the time we have?
I started off trying to make an itinerary using Google Maps and my grocery list pad, but that soon became too mired in scribbles to read. I looked up a few trip-planning tools, but most of them seemed to be aimed at coordinating hotels, flights and rental cars, not actually helping you find those things.
And then I ran across Furkot.
This tool was exactly what I needed–I began charting our trip and kept poking my husband to point out all the cool features. Furkot is super easy to use, and will help you stay on budget, on schedule, and find new and exciting things you didn’t know existed for the ultimate DIY road trip.
The first thing you do with Furkot is hit the Plan tab. This is where your routes, driving times, and stops are. There is a different tab for each trip that you plan, so you can keep up planning different trips without getting them mixed up. You can choose a one-way or round trip. I chose round trip since we are making a big circle, but the site kept trying to add in stops for me to make it round trip as I was adding stops, so that was a little confusing.
You can click on any day of your trip to adjust the length of day. It’s a great feature because it will end your trip and throw in an overnight stay at a certain time each day, like 10pm. You can adjust your times, or disable this feature altogether, but I liked it since we will have kids with us and we will have to limit how long we travel each day as well as choose a realistic departure time. It was one less thing I had to think about as I planned our route.
I have to say I wasn’t super impressed with the routing, since at some stops it didn’t choose the fastest route, and at other stops it wouldn’t let me choose an alternate route, such as taking the Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to L.A. rather than the fastest route available.
When you chose a stop—our first one is Fort Collins, Colorado—you can choose what accommodations to search for, including national or state parks, chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, even hostels. This was huge for us, because we will be staying at state park cabins most of the way where you can rent a tiny one or two bedroom cabin for under $100 a night most places. It’s a huge budget saver and most of the cabins have kitchens, which means you can prepare meals at those stops and save even more money. You can take the Sleep link directly to the spot to book, click Stay to mark it for later, or click Maybe if you want to save more than one option.
The Eat tab is another fun feature. You can search for restaurants, breweries, wineries, coffee shops and grocery stores. When you find places that look interesting, you can also hit Stop, specify a time period, such as an hour or two, or you can hit Maybe to mark it for later. When I hit the Brewery tab for our stop in San Francisco, the map lit up. Seeing everything on the map was so helpful because I could plan things by proximity to avoid too much walking or driving, and because I can research places in the area before we go—when you have three kids you can’t just waltz in anywhere you want.
The Find tab helps you find museums, parks, mountains, hiking, bodies of water, events, historical sites, and more. It even has a feature that marks items from Atlas Obscura, which is my favorite source for out-of-the-way gems. Again, you can mark stops and specify how long you want to stay, or hit Maybe to save them for later consideration. Each point of interest also has a link to more information, and some of the info is right there, such as how much it is to park and ticket prices, which is so helpful when budgeting and keeps you from having to leave the site to look it up.
Another great feature is the ability to make notes on every stop. If there’s something you need to note at a certain destination, such as remember to get cash, how much something will cost, or a confirmation code, you can put it right there in the notes.
It’s also really easy to share your trip with others whom you choose. To share, you just hit the person silhouette under the trip tab. Enter the person’s email address, and then they can view your trip and add stops or change things just like you can. There’s also a feature to share your trip with other Furkot users so they can make suggestions of places to visit or things to see.
I was kind if dragging my feet planning this trip because it felt a little complicated, but Furkot has made this part so much easier. We will be able to forecast our budget easier and get an idea of how each day will go without having to be super confined to a schedule.