Your Route 66 trip will be very enjoyable if you do a little preplanning. The road is not on ordinary maps and there are very few road signs. We recommend you go to our website store and order the Route 66 Kit that suits your needs and budget. The kit will allow you to plan your trip in advance by giving you the materials necessary to find and enjoy the legendary road. Plus you will save money and get free trip consultation 7 days a week.
Renting a Car for Your Trip
The best thing to do regarding rental cars is to go to the websites of the major international car rental agencies (Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, National, Hertz, Alamo, etc.) or try CarRentals.com and compare. Rates are very erratic and change regularly. Contrary to popular belief, with the exception of small local agencies which you will want to avoid, no one agency is consistently cheaper than another. It all depends on when you will be traveling, your departure point and destination, how long you will be gone, the type of vehicle you would like, the dates you will be traveling, how much they want your business at the moment, etc.
Hint: because of all the Route 66 travelers renting cars and driving East to West (the customary direction), the agencies have many more cars in the West. So, when you make comparisons, you will find the drop off fee for your car will usually be less if you drive West to East.
When to Go
Taking weather into consideration, we recommend Spring (March, April, May, June) or Autumn (September, October, November) for your trip. Summer months can get hot in the West. Winter months can produce ice and snow in the Midwest and at higher elevations.
There are dining and lodging establishments along the route that are outstanding and/or very popular. If you want to visit any of these, we suggest you make reservations in advance so you won’t miss out.
Of course, the amount of time you allow for your trip will be determined by what you want to see and do. Do you want to go up to Santa Fe, spend extra time in Los Angeles, visit the Grand Canyon or…? As a guide, allow at least 7 days one way.
Motorcycle Travel on Route 66
There are several businesses that rent motorcycles, several are listed on our RESOURCES page.
Here are a few hints from a veteran Route 66 biker:
- Get the EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers. It will save you untold grief. You’ll want to take your trip in the spring or the fall. If you go in the winter, you will freeze on the eastern portion and if you go in the summer, you will roast in the desert.
- Going cooler to warmer is better. Thus, I’d go Chicago to LA, versus LA to Chicago. That way, you can ditch heavier clothes as you go along, and mail them home, giving you more space in your saddlebags for souvenirs towards the end.
- As for motorcycle shops along the route, I don’t know of any directories. Really, any research you do ahead of time isn’t going to do all that much more for you than looking in the yellow pages in whatever town you happen to be in. That being said, if you are a member of the AMA, you can join their “Help ‘n Hands” which gives you a way to find other motorcyclists in whatever town you’re in to give you recommendations.
- Four weeks will give you the opportunity to see most everything both directions. Two weeks is too rushed. Three is better.
- As for booking accommodations beforehand, there’s pluses and minuses either way. Planning your stops ahead of time assures you a place to stay that fits in with the type of place you are looking for. However, on the flip side, when you are on a motorcycle, having your stops pre-planned gives you a lot less flexibility if it’s a bad weather day or you have bike problems on a given day. So, I think that if you are not a good bad-weather rider or your bike is not 100% dependable, you may not want to lock yourself into a rigid schedule. In either case, I highly recommend the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide available here.
RV Parks & Campgrounds
Many people simply love their RVs, so they will drive theirs down Route 66 no matter what. But we have to tell you, taking an RV is not the ideal way to experience the Route. Keep in mind, of all things, 66 was a tourist road crammed with motels, cafes, trading posts and a colorful selection of tourist traps—and it still is. That is what brings people to the legendary highway from all over the world. They want to stay in vintage motels and eat in vintage eateries. In other worlds, they want to experience early roadside Americana. You’ll miss much of that if you spend your time sleeping and eating in an RV. However, if you’re determined to drive an RV, go to our RESOURCES page. At the bottom is “RV Parks and Campgrounds” and companies that rent RVs.