With so much to see and so much to do, it’s hard picking your perfect American road trip. Worry not road trippers, science has tackled this problem with a new algorithm designed to give you the perfect American road trip.

Sources for inspiration

There are many places you can find inspiration to make your perfect road trip. First, think about what your overall goal for the trip is: Would you like to explore a region of the country, view National Parks, or spend time on a certain highway like Route 66? Do you want to indulge in a hobby, taste many varieties of your favorite food, or visit amusement parks or sports stadiums? Once you know what you want to do, you have a basis for structuring your drive.

The second planning step is to hit travel books or online sites to narrow down what you want to see. As you do this, consider how much driving you want to tackle in a day, and be sure to leave yourself time for stops to unexpected places.

As a third step, use the internet to research accommodations. Sites like Airbnb and VRBO are great sources for this information, especially interesting places to stay the night. Some of these places might be worth going out of your way for.

Experts try to craft the perfect road trip

Despite the challenges, some people have endeavored to outline a single road trip that could be enjoyed by anyone. Most recently, the publication Discovery News partnered with a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University to see if they could use science, in the form of algorithm development, to create one road trip that’s right for everyone. Their methodology determined they could only pick one attraction for each of the lower 48 states, except for California which received two, and a single pick for Washington D.C. They also determined they would focus on national landmarks, historic sites, parks, and national monuments.

Other “best of” road trip guides focus on a single goal, such as enjoying the best in craft beer across the 50 states, experiencing iconic American highways like Route 66, or indulging in a passion such as visiting Civil War monuments, Old West towns, or heralded movie locations. Whatever the focus is, they reflect the passion of the driver. They may also provide some inspiration for how you’d craft your own road trip.

Online tools can help

When you’re planning your road trip, you don’t have to go it alone. Online tools like Rand MacNally’s trip maker, or MapQuest’s map planner can help. Once you’re on the road, if you get lost, but have a solid online connection, an online app like Ways or Google Maps can be useful. Another app, Roadtrippers, can suggest the best route for you if you put in your preferred destination.

Examples of creative road trips

Even with a lot of planning, suggestions crafting your own perfect road trip can be overwhelming. To help, we’ve gotten specific with some examples of road trips others have taken, what they’ve planned, and what they found. Maybe these ideas will help you find the creativity to plan your best adventure.

Extraterrestrial road trip

The American Southwest can provide an ideal road trip experience for space buffs. Starting at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, you can venture through Austin and then across the broad swath of Texas, passing wildflowers and rangeland before reaching New Mexico. There you can find a number of space-oriented attractions including Roswell, where aliens may have once been sited, and the Very Large Array — a series of satellite dishes used to observe space, and made famous by the Jodie Foster movie Contact. Other fun stops on the way include the hot springs in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and a pie-focused restaurant in an area called PieTown was featured on the Food Network.

National park road trip

Visiting a string of national parks can be a great way to determine a road trip. For example, if you decide to head to Yellowstone, consider a pre-visit overnight stop in Driggs, Idaho, where there’s an outdoor movie theater founded in 1951 called the Spud Drive-in. This is one example of the kind of accommodations you can find online. Guests can sleep in a refurbished vintage camper parked just outside of the large screen, and enjoy some of the best milkshakes and hamburgers in the area while the movie plays. Following that great first night, proceed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and finally to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Mississippi river road trip

Though there are often faster ways to get to New Orleans, driving the road from Cincinnati to Louisiana is great for road trippers. As you follow the Mississippi River, you can take the interstate straight to Crescent City, or once you reach Nashville, switch roads to what has been called the “blues highway.” As you drive in either place, you can feel the landscapes and cultures change under your wheels, and visit musical sites, civil war landmarks, and food hot spots.