6 Reasons You Need a Trip Planner

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cell phone and car keys laying on top of pink folder holding red and blue log sheet

As a military family, our family travels every summer (whether we want to or not). Sometimes we’re moving, sometimes we’re visiting family and sometimes we’re vacationing. This summer we’re making a multi-college visit trip with my second “baby.” I’m a big planner, organizer and list maker when it comes to traveling. For 20+ years, I’ve always used a trip planner for our trips.  Even now with cellphones and technology, I still bring a hardcopy trip planner and trip information with us on our trips. Before you think I’m too old school, let me share 6 reasons why you need a Trip Planner in addition to your cell phone when you travel.

image of red and blue trip planner worksheet

With all traveling we’ve done over the years, I have come to rely on my favorite travel tips. I like to plan our trip by writing all the information we’ll need each day on my Trip Planner: addresses for each planned stop, the distance (I usually put both the miles and the length of time), any meal plans we have, and notes like our hotel reservation number, contact phone number for the hotel or special details needed for each college tour. You can download your own Trip Planner.

stack of papers, with 2 pages of red and blue trip planner log

I also print out hardcopy information for each stop we’re making (in this case our reservations for each college tour), all hotel reservations and printed GPS directions.  I clip each day’s information together to make finding what I need easier. I place all this trip information in an envelope folder. I prefer the ones that have two pockets so I can place the trip planner and that day’s information packet in one pocket and the upcoming days’ information packets stay in the other pocket until I need them.

I’m able to reduce stress and frustration during our trip because I find detail I need for our trip in one spot. I also find that it saves me money because I have planned the quickest, least expensive route, I’ve made hotel reservations at the best rates I can find, and I’ve planned our meals so that we can save money along our route.

6 Reasons Why You Need an Old School Trip Planner 

1. You can share the trip director responsibilities with others during the trip.

You may have been the one to plan and organize the trip and the trip planner, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else take over the directing responsibilities for a day or even a portion of a day. If you only have the information on your phone, then you’re the only one who can be in charge each day (unless you want to give your phone to someone else all day). If you use a Trip Planner, you can simply hand the Trip Planner and the daily information packet off to someone else and then sit back, relax and enjoy the trip.

2. You have all the information you need for each day in one spot.

Tell me I’m not the only one who has spent much too long, swiping through old emails and pulling up attachments looking for that one piece of critical information you need only to find it 10 minutes later inexplicably in the trash file of your email. You have everything you need in one spot on the Trip Planner and you also have it available on your phone.  

As a Walmart Family Mobile Ambassador, I am taking my cell phone with me on our trip, of course. With Walmart Family Mobile service, I get 1G of 4G LTE service so I can quickly swipe through my emails and download attachments when I want to look at them on my phone.

Purchasing my cell phone was as easy as stopping by the Mobile Phone section, near the electronics, on one of my weekly trips to Walmart.  The Walmart Family Mobile service is $29.88 per month for the first line and is an Unlimited Talk, Text and Data service plan which includes up to 1G of 4G LTE data. They have a large selection of phones for all budgets. Be sure to pick up a Starter Kit, too, when you choose your phone.

  • ZTE Zinger – $29.88
  • Galaxy Avant – $149.00 (was $199.99)
  • ZTE ZMAX – $179.00 (was $199.88)
  • Alcatel Fierce 2 – $99.88 (was $129.99)
  • Alcatel Evolve 2 – $34.83 (was $59.88)
  • LG 450- $29.88
  • Microsoft Lumia 435- $49.88
  • Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro- $64.88
  • LG Leon LTE: $99.82

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/fs1l or your local Walmart for current pricing.

3.  You’ve got a dead cell phone.

I know I’m not the only one that has ended up with a low or no charge on my cell phone. No matter how many times I plan ahead, charge my phone before a trip and have a car charger for my phone, something always seems to go wrong. Tell me how have my kiddos lost my car charger and then lost it again after I eventually found it the first time?! Having a Trip Planner available is fail-safe back-up just in case I find myself with a dead phone again.

4.  Sometimes it’s easier to read a hardcopy of a Trip Planner than it is to read a cell phone.

view out of windshield of car with red and blue trip planner log and cell phone on dashboard

There are times that the sun is too bright and it’s virtually impossible to read the screen of a cell phone. There are times when the road is too rough and reading the small screen of cell phone is difficult.  Having a Trip Planner printed out makes it easy to read the trip information you need when it’s tough to read it on your phone.

hand holding cell phone with gps map in front of car dashboard

There are also times when my older eyes have a tough time seeing on the small screen of a cell phone. Let me tell you how much I love the large 5.7 inch screen of my Walmart Family Mobile ZTE ZMAX. Lots! The large screen is much easier for these older eyes to read.

5.  You find you have no cell phone coverage.

If you’ve ever driven across country, you may have run into that stressful situation when you find you don’t have cell phone coverage right when you need it. If you haven’t ever experienced that, then you must not have driven to some of the remote areas that the military can send you. Having a printout with all the pertinent details of your trip can come in handy if you ever find yourself in a remote area with no cell phone coverage. 

I recommend that you check your cell phone coverage before you leave on your trip so you can anticipate areas where you may not have coverage. I’ve checked the Walmart Family Mobile coverage map and I’ll have excellent 4G LTE coverage for our entire trip, but I’ll have my Trip Planner just in case there’s a solar flare or some other fluke.

6.  You damage or lose your phone.

Unfortunately, it happens. If it happens during your trip, you’ll have all the necessary information on your Trip Planner so you’ll be able to continue with your trip relatively uninterrupted. 

cell phone and car keys laying on top of pink folder holding red and blue log sheet

What’s your favorite trip planning tip for a road trip? Be sure to check out the Walmart Family Mobile plan service plan and coverage map, print out your own Trip Planner and have a wonderful time.

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  1. These are fantastic reasons. I need stuff written down because you check in one day and out another. I don’t want to mess up a reservation because I had the wrong day. We drove to Alaska 5 years ago and I still have that hard copy calendar with me.

    1. Diana, we are kindred souls! Sounds like you’ve done quite a bit of traveling and found what works best for you.

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