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Planning a Road Trip
Plan a Road Trip Easily with AAA Club's Free TripTik

by Jessica Howell

Road maps, snack stops, bathroom breaks — the endless conundrum that is commonly referred to as a road trip begins. Who sits where? What time is the lunch stop?

While we can’t exactly plan seating arrangements or fast-food runs for you, we can help in the preparation of planning a road trip. Whether you’re making a cross-state jaunt to Grandma’s or heading cross-country for a week of much-deserved rest and relaxation, getting to where you need to go in one piece is crucial.

AAA TripTik shows road trip mapping with points of interest

Lucky you — AAA Auto Club has recently made its famed online TripTik service available to the public. Better than simple map-and-direction web sites, TripTik offers visitors the advantage of creating their own direction guides, plotted and point-marked with all of the necessities you’ll require — be it clear, colorful markers for lodging, construction zones, gas stations, or auto repair shops.

The program, available at www.aaa.com, begins by asking both a departing address and destination address. Once entered, it’s up to you to decide which “points of interest” you would like labeled for your journey. Choose from options such as area attractions, restaurants, events, Hertz car rental centers, campgrounds, AAA-approved auto repair shops, AAA savings partners, gas stations (TripTik is the first online mapping tool to provide users with both locations and fuel prices!), and scenic byway information.

Once you’ve selected your “points of interest,” print off for easy-as-pie prep. You can either print the full-color version in TripTik format (cut horizontal prints in half and staple together for a custom travel guide) with noted markers, or a one-page overview with a map and directions for a one-glance handy helper.

For the hour and a half jaunt that we tested using TripTik, our exclusive guide required 13 printed pages, which we easily sliced down the center and stapled to make a 25-page road guide. We also printed out the one-page overview, which was most useful on our predominantly back-road drive, where gas stations and restaurants were far and few.

The fully-interactive program also allows travelers-to-be to click on icons to view AAA-approved lodging ratings, pricing and availability all in one step. Want to book a hotel room ahead of time? Simply click “reservations” and you’re able to do so.

Users are also able to e-mail their custom maps to friends and family at no charge — making it easy to pinpoint locations and routes for safety.

Our verdict? We’ve always loved AAA’s TripTik, and now that it’s available for free to non-AAA members, well, that’s just smart thinking. Experiencing the ease-of-use and seeing first-hand the available savings as AAA members, it’s likely that many first timers will jump on board, too.

Safe travels!

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