The distinction between print and on-line publications is becoming somewhat
blurred, so you should also review the
suggested websites for additional input.

Reference books.  Remember to take your special interest books e.g. birds,
plants, national parks, history, travel guides, etc.  Plus your recreational reading.  

We rely on the regional
AAA TourBooks®.  There are more than a dozen regional
editions of these guidebooks that members can get on request.  (There are also
city, state and regional maps.)  AAA
TourBooks® have an overview of each state
with highlights of a few of the top tourist spots.  Following is an alphabetical listing
of places with good descriptions.  Much of the space is a listing of motels and
restaurants.  We refer to these while traveling in case we overlooked anything of
interest when we planned the trip.

Clipping file.  Magazines, books, and newspapers can mention places that spark
your interests.  The mention of a civil war battle might head you there on your
next trip.  Some people have read of
Route 66 or the Oregon Trail and become so
interested that they follow these.  After reading an article in
Smithsonian or
Family Motorcoaching have you thought "that's a place I've got to see".  A file of
clippings is a handy reference.  

Tourist Bureaus.  The quality of information from state and local tourist offices
varies widely – but is worth checking.  Understandably they concentrate on
commercial locations.  On-line sites are the easiest way to order these.  Click these
links for
state and provincial websites.  Visitors’ centers sometimes provide useful
information.  We have received excellent tips from the staff members, though too
often the staffers are uninformed.  We have a file drawer of state tourist

Campground directories.  RVers use directories such as the Good Sam - RV
Travel Guide & Campground Directory
(formerly:Trailer Life Directory) that
lists about 15,000 RV parks in the US & Canada.  It has good ratings to show the
completeness of facilities, cleanliness of restrooms and visual appeal.  They give an
indication of site size, availability of 50 amp, pull-throughs, modem or Wi-Fi
availability and a number of other characteristics, plus good directions to reach the
RV park.  There are sections that outline rules of the road and towing laws, fishing
license fees, low clearances on Interstates, etc.  This directory is available at some
RV parks, RV supply stores, and bookstores.

Roads to take.  We always have a road atlas for the US & Canada.  There are
several – they’re all pretty good.  Get one that measures about 11”x15”.  We
prefer those that indicate scenic routes and show the locations of points of
interest.  This is useful even when using a GPS or trip planning online maps.

If traveling the western states there are many severe mountain roads that are
described in the book
Mountain Directory, Western Edition .  Caution: do not
assume that if a road is not mentioned it has no steep grades

A book listing businesses along the Interstate highways,
The Next Exit, is useful.  
This helps you anticipate services and accommodations at exits ahead of you off
most Interstates.  This can be useful to travelers in cars as well as RVers.

The United States is a big hunk of geography to cover in a guidebook in a manner
that can satisfy most extended travelers who are planning a trip of a lifetime by
auto or RV.  Most overwhelm us with more than we need to know to plan a trip.  
(One time we came across a statement that the railroad tracks crossed the road —
it was the only comment about the village in the book.  Certainly this trivia did not
help us in our planning.)  Only after a basic plan is determined do we want the
detail.  An exception –
Crossing America: National Geographic’s Guide to The
is a well-organized concise overview of thousands of places close to
the Interstates.  Though it lists thousands of places it is easy to skim over to
identify the places of possible interest to the reader.  

Alaska travelers consider the Milepost indispensable.  It is updated annually.  
This describes, mile by mile, all the through roads in great detail.  It is well
organized so it is easy to use.  This includes current road construction, scenic
turnoffs, and the points of interest as well as business write-ups.  (In Alaska we
value the reports of road conditions at the tourist bureaus, as they can
recommend alternates, when available.)
(C) 2002-2014  J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters