For those of you who don't own a GPS or who prefer to have a second opinion when taking to the road, a wonderful college road trip planning service is available free of charge from the American Automobile Association (AAA). And you don't even have to join the club!
Simply visit the AAA website and enter your zip code. You'll be routed to a local club, which for me is AAA Mid-Atlantic. At this point, find For Your Travels at the center of the page and click on TripTiks & TourBooks (reminds me of the old days with the spiral-bound booklets and routes designated in green magic marker). Under TripTik®, click on Launch TripTik® Travel Planner.
Now here’s where it gets fun. Under the Directions tab, click on Starting Point and fill in your starting address. Move on to Destination, where you'll find a nifty dropdown menu under Location type which includes a College/University option. Select a state and you are presented with a complete list of every college and/or university located in that state. You don’t have to know an address, the school mascot, or anything else about the school. Just click “Get Maps & Directions” and you have the first stop on your college tour neatly mapped and annotated with advisories on traffic or construction.
For your next stop, click on Add Destination and repeat the process. You can do this for an entire road trip. Each stop will be tagged with a colorful pushpin and the TripTik® will keep a running tally of miles and hours on the road. If your goal is to visit two of Virginia’s private colleges each day of spring break or during Virginia Private College Week, this is a terrific planning tool. AAA members can even go old school and order a traditional Trip Tik® online, which will be sent by mail.
While you're on the AAA site, you can do some more comprehensive trip planning and find information on hotels, entertainment, or car rentals located near the colleges you are visiting. Discounts (including the one my daughter used on AMTRAK over four years of undergraduate and three years of graduate school) are available to members only. For thrifty travelers, AAA provides fuel conservation tips as well as a very handy Fuel Price Finder by zip code. As far as I can see, it's updated daily and accurate to three decimal places. Beat that!