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 also the first highway to be 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 are going to love this road trip across the 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.
  • Do you want to know which are 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!

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, it’s essential to do perfect planning 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 as much as possible to minimize mistakes, so you won’t make the same errors 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!

Route 66 Flagstaff sign
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 there are parts of the route that are preserved intact; others are part of the interstate highway network, or they have disappeared.

Route 66 begins in Chicago. Chicago is a fantastic city, in which there is 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 we finish in Chicago. We will spend 15 days going through this beautiful road that will allow us to see and know a good part of the U.S. (Although we will visit only eight states, so we will have 42 remainings!)

You can read, where to star 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 taken it into account.

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.

Planning the Route 66: TIPS

This section tells you how to start planning and organizing 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 USA

The logical thing is 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 hours of daylight.

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

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

Route 66 sign
Route 66

How many kilometers to do 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 are going to eat.

Besides, you have to 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 of the places you’ll want to see have a schedule; usually, they close at five o’clock 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.

landscape Route 66
Route 66 Road.

Big Decision: Car, Bike, or Motorhome?

I’m a biker. I have had a motorcycle for many years, of all kinds; however, no doubt, we wanted to do this by car or RV.

Seeing Route 66 on a Harley is very romantic and everything, 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 RVan 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.

bikers on Route 66. Oatman
Route 66. Arriving to Oatman

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

Route 66 Cadillac Ranch Texas USA

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’re going to travel and what we’re going to do if you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you have to complete the ESTA application before buying the flight ticket. It’s mandatory, and 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 you have the application completed and it’s been accepted, you can arrange your flight.

Book flight a good prices

There are many websites where you can book your flight. The best for check dates and prices is 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.

Fer & Vero Bagdad Cafe, Route 66

How many miles drive per day?

The next point to consider is the sections you are going to 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, so it suits you and your plan.

I have taken into account an average of 196 miles per day of the route. I haven’t accounted for any additional miles that you will have to travel to see any 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”, “I don’t speak English”

Another important thing no mandatory but recommended is to apply for an international driving license. It’s easy to get it, and it will allow you to drive if you are not going to be more than three months in the country.

Where to book your rental car o RV motorhome?

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

In our case, we made the reservation on Rentalcars, and we choose 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 that you have internet in the USA. If not, buy a card there to have internet while you travel. Or if you prefer, you can take a GPS with the 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 be more or less the same cost. 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 you’ll get directions to take you there without any loss of time. It’s a great solution to improvise and also really convenient for big cities.

Really, it was a success.

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 it.

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

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

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

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

Hotels and motels on route 66

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 if you have paid for your ticket with a credit card, the insurance that it includes is not comparable to that of travel insurance.

We recommend WorldNomads and Chapka for travel insurance. They have very good prices, but the biggest advantage is that you customize the insurance to your needs, so you are not over-insured, and you do not pay for what you do not need.

For our readers we have very good discounts

How much does it cost to do Route 66

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

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

The price of the accommodation 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 price of the car rental 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 RentalCars.

About food, eating in the USA is cheap if you want. The plates are always large, and if you have food leftover, 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 price of accommodation depends on what you are seeking and also in 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.

Note:

When you are traveling Route 66, try to shop at local businesses and avoid the big chains. In this way, we all contribute to the maintenance of Route 66.

Well, that sums up my planning. 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

Prepare 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!

route 66 photo collage

Book Your Trip

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel, hotel, or apartments on Booking.com.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance.
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s your protection in case anything goes wrong. You never go on a trip without it.

Best companies for activities
Check out Civitatis.com and find the best tours in English (French, Spanish and Italian)

Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too! (Is in Spanish yet)

Last Updated on 5 July, 2021 by Veronica

6 Comments

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

    Thank you for doing this

  2. 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!
    Saludos

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