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How to build an itinerary for Route 66 trip
Of course, you don’t need an itinerary if you choose to cross Route 66 in the style of “I’ll stay where the night catches me.” However, this would be a costly trip and so we recommend creating a basic plan at least – determining where you’ll stay for the night.
Of course, you don’t need an itinerary if you choose to cross Route 66 in the style of “I’ll stay where the night catches me.” However, this would be a costly trip and so we recommend creating a basic plan at least – determining where you’ll stay for the night. This helps you to avoid the disappointment of incorrect planning, which can cause a time delay or result in missing the places you wanted to see.
Three parameters are important for planning – the total number of days on the road, the number of attractions you want to see on Route 66, and a reasonably spread-out daily travel distance. It’s not a problem to manage even a thousand kilometers a day on a good motorcycle or in a car, but you’ll get nothing out of Route 66 in such a case. Don’t plan on doing more than 300 kilometers a day – that’s my advice after the mistake we made on our first trip, driving more than 400 kilometers every day.
Don’t plan your itinerary according to an estimated time on your GPS either – this is definitely not how it works on Route 66. Time on Route 66 flows at its own pace. Schedule what you want to see on that day and keep a time reserve.
Plan even fewer kilometers per day and keep more time to wander around in those parts of Route 66 with many points of interest. Take this advice – if you are poorly prepared, you will regret the lack of time in some sections of Route 66.
Also consider the fact – especially on motorcycles – that fatigue will increase in the second half of the trip and so you should split your daily distances in a way everyone can manage.
If you’ve noticed that we planned a significantly higher daily mileage for the stretches before the Grand Canyon compared to after, I owe you an explanation. Riding in fertile parts of the US, and partly in the prairie, is better than in the desert and you swallow the kilometers with a larger appetite. From Williams, you are riding at very high temperatures and it’s tough not just on the motorcycle, but also on your body. Believe me, managing 428 kilometers from Las Vegas to Victorville in the desert is a completely different story than the same distance between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.
Also, consider the number of kilometers as indicative; in fact, you end up riding more everyday – Route 66 has a number of turns and dead ends and so the calculations from the map are good just to roughly calculate what’s ahead of you.
We slept for two nights in Chicago – we arrived in the afternoon and had 24 hours to settle. We picked up the bikes from the rental company the next day at 4 p.m., and set out on Route 66 in the morning of the third day. Since it was our first time in Chicago, it was more comfortable that way. We spent one night in every city, with two exceptions. We arrived at the Grand Canyon late in the evening and so we had to postpone visiting the canyon to the next day. But staying in Grand Canyon is expensive and climbing the hills is tiring, and so we booked another hotel only 95 km away in Williams. We also opted for a two-day stay in Las Vegas. After a full day of travel, you want to sleep more than party, and so you likely won’t spend the first night gambling. On the next day, fatigue from 11 days on Route 66 will catch up with you, and outside it is disgustingly hot. You’ll end up getting to downtown Las Vegas in the afternoon, spend the night there, and be glad if you get back on the road after 9 a.m. the next morning.
And then it’s up to you how many days you spare for Los Angeles before flying home. Three days were sufficient for us to return the motorcycles, swim in the ocean, buy gifts, and see Beverly Hills 90210 with our own eyes. We’ve also prepared several other itineraries for you to get inspired by while planning.