| |

Route 66 15-Day Itinerary. Planning and Budget

Hi everyone! This is the beginning of a post series about Route 66. It’s a pleasure to tell you all about one of the best road trips we’ve ever done.

First of all, let me tell you I’m not a native English speaker. You’ll probably find spelling or grammar mistakes; if so, please let me know to improve the post and myself!

Route 66 is one of the most iconic highways in America. It stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through many different states and regions along the way.

Route 66 was the first highway completely paved with asphalt concrete. This blog post will offer a 15-day itinerary for traveling on this historic route, including places you can stay and things you can do at each stop!

Route 66 has been featured in many movies, such as “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940), “Two Women” (1960), and “Easy Rider” (1969). The famous Mother Road has also been used as inspiration by artists like Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan.

I’m sure you will love this road trip across Mother Road.

In this post, you’ll find:

  • How to plan the Historic US Route 66 road trip
  • What you should take into account
  • Tricks and tips so that you can organize Route 66 on your own.
  • The most important cities and towns.
  • What documentation will you need to travel to the United States
  • What itinerary to do, where to sleep, where to stop, etc.

Keep reading!

road trip travel planner to print

Route 66: Planning and Budget

Some info about Route 66

This post will be dedicated to planning your trip down Route 66.

When you want to make a trip like this, you must plan perfectly beforehand.

With good planning, you will know which section of the route you will drive each day, where the interesting places or landmarks worth being seen are, where to stop, where to eat, and -pretty important- where to sleep.

It’s not a matter of having everything absolutely planned because we have to leave room for improvisation, but to at least have the basics clear.

With this blog post, we have tried to minimize mistakes as much as possible so you won’t make the same mistakes we did. But, as always, on a trip, something will happen. If so, try to enjoy that moment, and don’t let it spoil the trip!

Museum Route 66 Flagstaff

How Many Kilometers is Route 66?

Route 66, also known as “Main Street of America” or “The Mother Road,” is about 4000 kilometers long (2448 miles). It is the road that joins Chicago and Los Angeles.

Why did Route 66 Become Famous?

It became very famous because it was the route followed by immigrants traveling to the West to seek their fortune and a better life, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Where does Route 66 Begin, and where does it end?

In theory, its official road is from Chicago to Los Angeles, but you can do it from Los Angeles to Chicago if you like it 🙂

Officially it no longer exists as such and was no longer considered Route 66 in the mid-1980s. It is now marked as a historic route, and parts of the route are preserved intact; others are part of the interstate highway network or have disappeared.

Route 66 begins in Chicago. Chicago is a fantastic city with much to do and see. At least you have to save 3 days to visit the minimum.

The good thing about starting the route from here is that you arrive with all your strength, and you can make the most of the time you have to get to know the city, pick up the rental car/motorcycle, have a drink at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant (a must stop for all those who we have done and do route 66).

And as you go along the route, you gain an hour due to the time difference between the different coasts.

Why did we decide to travel route 66 from Los Angeles?

Because we had a flight to Las Vegas for a darts championship, we toured the West Coast first, and then, in Los Angeles, we started route 66 to Chicago, then continued to Niagara Falls, and ended up in New York City (It was a month-long trip).

Therefore, we begin in Los Angeles and finish in Chicago. We will spend 15 days traveling this beautiful road, which will allow us to see and learn about a good part of the U.S. (Although we will visit only eight states, we will have 42 remaining!)

You can read where to start route 66 here.

Starting Route 66 in Los Angeles has disadvantages. One of them is that you lose hours as you travel east, and sometimes, without realizing it, it is an hour less, and you may be late to somewhere you wanted to go for not having considered it.

As you already know, we did Route 66 from west to east and with some extra visits along the way, such as:

Well, I’ll stop the chatter and get into the subject that is the target of this post.

Saint Louis Gateway Arch
El arco de Saint Louis Missouri

Planning the Route 66: TIPS

This section tells you how to plan and organize the trip along Route 66, the United States’ mother road.

We also give you an approximation of the budget to travel Route 66 (at the end of this post), the steps to organize the trip, how many kilometers to do each day, tips for driving in the United States, and where to get the ESTA application, and much more.

Best Season to Go to the US

It is logical to do it in the summer, late spring, or early fall. This is for two main reasons: first, the weather, because the winters are hard in a continental climate like the one you’re going to go through, and second, because of the daylight hours.

In the winter you’ll miss seeing many things just because there’s no natural light!

One problem with these dates is that there are storms, which can often be very strong. Luckily, we were caught in a storm only once. Unfortunately, if you are caught in one on that day, you’ll have to take it easy and be careful.

How Many Kilometers Do You Drive Each Day on Route 66?

It is to outline obvious which part of the road you will drive each day and, therefore, where you will sleep, and at least a couple of choices of where you will eat.

Besides, you must know what you want to see during the day, or at least what you don’t want to miss.

It’s important to consider this because many places you’ll want to see have a schedule; usually, they close at five p.m., sometimes even earlier, so you have to get there at least before three o’clock.

Also, keep in mind that if you have any part of the route scheduled for after those hours, it has to be a section with nothing of interest to stop in that may be closed.

On the other hand, if it is a natural resource or a landscape, it’s important not to run out of natural light; hence, you’ll need to arrive before eight p.m.

old Route 66

Big Decision: Car, Bike, or Motorhome?

I’m a biker. I have had motorcycles of all kinds for many years; however, we wanted to do this by car or RV.

Seeing Route 66 on a Harley is very romantic, but 15 days with luggage, in the summer, with extreme heat, some storms from time to time, and for some of you in a foreign country and on your own?

Choose a car or an RV, no doubt, and very important, and it has to have a decent trunk. If you are a group of three or four people, the cost gets lower, and it’s more comfortable. The decision is yours. This is just my opinion.

Route 66 Amboy to Kingman

Once we have these three points clear, we can start planning our trip:

Route 66, Cadillac Ranch

ESTA Application

If you’re traveling to the U.S. from another country, please check if you need to apply for a visa or the ESTA.

Once we’ve determined what days we will travel and what we will do if you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you must complete the ESTA application before buying the flight ticket. It’s mandatory; without it, you can’t enter the United States.

Many websites try to charge you extra costs for completing this application. The charges are $14.

Here you have the official link. If you’ve already done this before, remember that it is valid for two years. You can renew or complete a new one if it has expired.

Once the application is completed and it’s been accepted, you can arrange your flight.

Book Flights at Good Prices

Fer & Vero Bagdad Cafe, Route 66

There are many websites where you can book your flight. The best way to check dates and prices is through Skyscanner.

The costs change a lot from one country to another. If you depart from London, you can find round-trip flights for less than £450.

How Many Miles Drive per Day?

The next point to consider is the sections you will do each day. I leave you here is my proposal, but it is just that—a proposal to serve you as a starting point. Use it, judge it, and modify it to suit you and your plan.

I have considered an average of 196 miles per day of the route. I haven’t accounted for any additional miles you will have to travel to see interesting places during a given section of Route 66.

I’ve planned for about three hours by car per day.

Note that the speed limit is between 55 and 65 miles per hour, depending on the state, and respect it! I didn’t, and I got a $300 fine.

What to Do if the Police Stop You?

If the police stop you, be respectful, keep your hands still on the steering wheel, and don’t make a single strange movement inside the car. When they approach you, roll down the window carefully, give the police your car docs, and see what happens.

If you don’t speak English, have a couple of sentences written on a cardboard-like “I” m from XXXXX” and “I don’t speak English.”

Another important thing not mandatory but recommended is to apply for an international driving license. It’s easy to get, and it will allow you to drive if you will not be in the country for more than three months.

Where to Book Your Rental Car o RV motorhome?

As for cars, there are low-cost rental car enterprises that allow you to rent a good car pretty cheap car.

In our case, we made the reservation using a rental car comparator, and we chose Dollar, and the rental cost was around $ 1000. The bad news is that where you return your car to a different city office is a fee, and just for that, $500!

*This fee may change depending on the state where you return the car.

Make your car reservations with this comparator that finds you excellent prices. And don’t forget the return fee.

But if you want to travel in an RV, you can do it here with this awesome company and save the hotel money.

Save up to 25% on your travel costs this Summer by renting an RV through RVshare

GPS or Mobile?

Check with your telephone operator to see if you have internet access in the USA. If not, buy a card to use the internet while you travel. Or, if you prefer, you can take a GPS with maps of the USA.

We carry GPS, but smartphones are much better now, and there are excellent plans with telephone companies.

If you have a GPS, buy maps of the U.S. It will be around $50, more or less. If you have a good quality smartphone, you can buy a GPS application and maps (so you do not use the data streaming), which will cost more or less the same. It’s truly a very good decision to make.

It comes in handy mostly when you want to get in or out of big cities like Los Angeles or Chicago, where the traffic is crazy.

Also, if the maps are good, they will come with built-in POIs where you can search for points of interest nearby and get directions to take you there without wasting time. It’s a great solution for improvisation and is also really convenient for big cities.

Really, it was a success.

Route 66 Motel

Driving in the United States

Well, a little driving in the USA. As we say, always be careful. Traffic rules in the United States are slightly different from ours, and you have to get used to them.

Well, the truth is that some things are strange to us, but hey, you get used to it in a very short time.

In this post on how to drive in the United States. You have compiled what was strange to us driving on Route 66 and other routes in the United States.

Where to Stay on Route 66

Several chain hotels or motels, such as Travelodge, Motel 6, or Super 8, are nice for a night and are located throughout the United States.

It’s better to book in advance; it can be unpleasant to be unable to find a place to sleep once you’re there.

Hotels and motels on route 66

How to find accommodation

Travel Insurance for the United States

Traveling with travel insurance is almost mandatory, especially in places like the United States, where healthcare is so expensive.

It is always good to travel insured, and although you have paid for your ticket with a credit card, the insurance it includes is not comparable to travel insurance.

We recommend HeyMondo (up to $10,000,000 cover). They have very good prices, and the biggest advantage is that you customize the insurance to your needs, so you are not over-insured and do not pay for what you do not need.

How Much Does it Cost to Do Route 66?

This budget to do Route 66 is an approximation, and I always think the prices are higher than they really are since the plane ticket price depends greatly on the date you go.

Now many low-cost companies take you to the United States for excellent prices. Check Skyscanner.

The accommodation price will depend on what you are looking for and the city. We slept most of the way in motels; some were very well-priced ($ 30 a room). Chicago was the most expensive city.

The car rental price will depend a lot on which one you choose. It is cheaper to hire it online and several months in advance; we do it with a comparator, and we also recommend Autoeurope.

About food, eating in the USA is cheap if you want. The plates are always large; if you have leftover food, you can ask them to take it away. It’s normal, don’t be ashamed.

How Much Would it Cost to Do Route 66 by car

  • ESTA: $14
  • Plane Flight: € 650 per person. € 1,300
  • Accommodation: 15 days’ x € 50 / day = € 750.
  • Car rental: $ 1500. € 1250
  • Lunch and Dinner: $ 600. € 500
  • Fuel: $ 450. € 400
  • Other Expenses: $ 600. € 500 (souvenirs, tickets, etc.)
  • Initial Estimated Total: € 4,700. € 2350 / per person.

Approximate budget to do Route 66 by an RV

  • ESTA: $14
  • Plane Flight: € 650 per person. € 1,300
  • RV Rent: €150 – €200 per night (150×15= €2250)
  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: € 400
  • Fuel: € 600
  • Other Expenses: € 500 (souvenirs, tours, tickets, etc.)
  • Initial Estimated Total: €650 flight ticket per person + €3750 to share.

This budget to do Route 66 is an approximation and probably a little higher than what you’ll really spend. The flight tickets price depends a lot on the dates you are going and the country of departure.

The accommodation price depends on what you are seeking and the city. We slept in motels for almost the entire Route 66; some had an excellent price ($30 per room). Chicago was the most expensive city.

The car rental price will depend a lot on what kind of vehicle you choose; it is cheaper to hire at American companies.

Regarding the food, eating in the USA can be cheap if you shop around. The meals are great and usually large portions.


When you travel Route 66, try to shop at local businesses and avoid the big chains. This way, we all contribute to its maintenance.

Well, that sums up my plan. At the end of the post, you will find a post for each day of the journey, telling you what to see, where to stop, where to sleep, etc.

If you want us to help you organize your trip, just write us!

We are translating our blog, so you will probably find some links to the Spanish posts. We will be updating the links week by week.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 itinerary day by day

When you finish Route 66, please come back and tell us your feelings and make us a bit jealous!

how to plan your road trip on US Route 66
route 66 photo collage

Last Updated on 26 March, 2024 by Veronica

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Similar Posts


  1. flying to Miami 9th April this year (2022), buying a bike or car once there (cheaper than renting)
    Doing East Coast, then 66, then West Coast

    flight out booked, 3 month trip planned

    absolutely cant wait

    Dave (Bolton, UK)

    1. Hi David, I love your plan! I’m jealous!
      Enjoy this magnificent road trip. And let us know which are the places you liked the most and the ones you liked the least!

  2. Planning a trip in 2022 on a Harley. What a brilliant read and perfect guide to start my planning.

    Thank you for doing this

    1. Did you do it? Was it a comfortable ride, what model did you get and what daily mileage did you do. Myself and my wife are considering getting one each to do it. Any advice greatly appreciated.

      1. Hello Andrew, we made the trip by car. We wanted to rent the typical Mustang, but we didn’t book it far enough in advance, and there were none available, so we rented a mid-size car (which for us living in Europe, I think would be considered compact in the USA). Regarding the mileage, it wasn’t the same every day, as there are stretches with very little to see and others with many stops within a few miles, so we adapted it a bit to what we wanted to see. Although sometimes we didn’t get it right and arrived at places when they were closed or about to close.
        Take a good look at all the essential places you want to visit and plan them in your itinerary, but also leave space for the spots that local people recommend or for some improvisation. Anyway, 15 days to do the route is fine, though it will depend on how many sidetrips you want to make. I hope I’ve been able to help you somewhat with your planning.
        Regards and have a great trip!

  3. Impresionate, formato de tu blog! ¿Cuanto tiempo llevas bloggeando? haces que leer en tu blog sea fácil. El aspecto total de tu web es bien pensado, al igual que el material contenido!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.