We love the romantic feeling of freedom associated with road trips. You may roll your eyes at the term, but when that feeling of “wanderlust” sets in, all we want to do it hop in the car and drive somewhere new. We want to roll up somewhere we’ve never been, try to find the hidden gems, stumble upon random roadside attractions, and eat the best food around. There’s so much to see if we allow ourselves time to explore and willingness to break out of our normal routines.
We have a similar feeling every time we help couples break out of traditional wedding expectations and plan their dream elopement. So are road trip weddings & elopements really a thing? Yes!! Why should the fun end after just one day? Level up your elopement and create the most memorable, fulfilling trip of your lives. You’re basically rolling your wedding and honeymoon into one sweet, sweet adventure. We love this idea so much we’ve even partnered with our favorite camper van rental team at Cabana to bring you exclusive road trip elopement packages. Between our elopement planning services and Cabana’s amazing trip planner concierge, you don’t have to worry about a thing. They’ll even book your campsites for you, and we’ll help you pick the best place along the route to say “I do”.
If you’re more of a DIY trip planner, to make things easy we’ve compiled this helpful planning guide. We’ll equip you with all of the tips to set yourself up for a truly life-changing trip and the perfect elopement day. Let’s jump right in to how to plan your own epic road trip wedding.
Step One: Where Are You Going?
The obvious first step is deciding where you’re going! Even though we have lots of suggestions, here are a few questions to ask yourselves to help narrow things down.
Do we want to start close to home or fly in to somewhere entirely new?
How much time will we be setting aside for our adventure?
What time of year will we be eloping?
What kind of weather and scenery are we hoping to enjoy?
Here is a great resource with the 15 Best Road Trips in the US
Choose Your Beginning and End Points
If you travel point to point, no day will ever feel the same and you’ll get to travel further distance. If you’re renting a camper van, most bigger companies have locations in multiple cities, meaning you can pick up in one, and drop it off before your departure. Airline tickets tend to be more expensive when you fly from different airports instead of a standard roundtrip ticket. The same goes for rental car rates.
If you start and end in the same location, you can save on travel, and take two different routes on your trip. For example you can head up the California coast on the 101, and then head back down via the 5 to enjoy Redding, Sacramento, and maybe even Yosemite National Park. You will have to factor in how far you can go before planning the return portion of the road trip. Some iconic routes are also a natural loop (like the Olympic Peninsula)!
Some of Our Top Road Trip Routes
These are trips identical or very close to routes we’ve planned for ourselves. You could do some within a week, but we really suggest taking your time to properly enjoy each stop!
Phoenix -> Sedona -> Page -> Zion National Park-> Las Vegas
Seattle -> Port Angeles -> Cape Flattery -> La Push -> Hoh Rainforest -> Seattle
Los Angeles -> Morro Bay -> Big Sur -> Santa Cruz -> San Francisco
Plan Your Road Trip Stops
Give yourself time to explore without a strict itinerary, but it’s helpful to have an idea of what you’d like to see on your journey. This is a great time to book your hotels and book any activities that require advance reservations or tickets.
Anna’s Favorite Planning Resources
Roadtrippers: This is almost exclusively what I use to actually build out our routes when doing long trips. Roadtrippers offers navigation, but we mostly use this to seek out cool attractions along the way and map out the overall route. We even have our entire travel schedule for the year mapped out on one single map, so we know the Trip Planning features can handle any length adventure!
Alltrails: Epic viewpoints and rewarding hikes are always high on our “must see” list, so we use All Trails to read reviews and get up-to-date info on trailhead closures and accessibility. I usually scroll back through the photos until I find some taken around the same time of year…while the weather is never identical it’s helpful to see historically how lush, dry, or snow-covered a particular spot may be.
Trevor’s Favorite Planning Resources
Eater: When we’re looking to treat ourselves to a fancy meal in a new place, or have a very specific craving in mind, we use Eater. They have dedicated resources for most major cities in the US with helpful restaurant lists and maps sorted by cuisine, budget, or location. Whenever we know we’re heading into a new city, we start on Eater for inspiration!
Travel Vlogs and Blogs: Once you fall down the rabbit hole of travel vlogger Youtube, you’ll find tons of amazing resources for almost every place you could want to visit.
Some of our favorite channels and blogs:
Choose Your Elopement Location
Alright! You’ve got a route planned, so it’s time to decide where you’d like to actually spend the day you get married. If your route takes you to some more remote areas, factor in how easy it may or may not be to find local vendors (like hair and makeup artists or florists). Once you’ve chosen a location, you can move forward with planning out your dream day!
Elopement Planning Checklist:
- Marriage License – You could always do the legal stuff back home, but look into the marriage license requirements if you’re traveling to a new state and want a proper legal ceremony on your travels.
- Special Use Permit – This is almost always required for a ceremony or vow exchange in any parks. You could also book a private venue or location that allows elopements. You may even be able to use an Airbnb or Vrbo property with owner approval!
- Book a Photographer – Work with a specialized elopement photographer and expert on the area who can help you find those less traveled hidden gems.
- Book Your Vendors – The most commonly used elopement vendors include hair and makeup artists, florists and an officiant.
Epic Ways to Level Up your Elopement Road Trip
Under Canvas: Stay at an upscale outdoor glamping resort near many of the National Parks.
Cabana: Rent a luxurious camper van equipped with all of comforts of home.
The Overland Elopements x Cabana Essentials Package includes:
- 6 hours of photography coverage
- Dream elopement questionnaire
- Comprehensive elopement planning guide
- Personalized elopement planning assistance and consultation
- High-resolution digital download with print release
- Honeymoon/Trip Planning
- Floral Arrangements
Eddie Bauer Rentals: No room for your gear in your suitcase? Rent everything you need for your outdoor adventures!
Fun Additions to Your Road Trip Packing List
(Note this portion contains affiliate links to items we love.)
- America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – This annual pass gives you access to all National Parks and Federal Recreation Sites and pays for itself in just a few visits.
- Create a road trip playlist or download audio books and podcasts for the longer stretches of driving.
- A power inverter for your car so you can plug in and charge your laptop or other devices.
- Passport to Your National Parks stamp book. We stamp ours at every National Park site!
- LED Railroad lanterns for lounging outside at night or incorporating into your elopement photos.
- We never go on long trips without our large insulated HydoFlasks
- An instant camera to document your trip highlights. Having tangible prints to bring home with you will feel so special.
- A comfortable day pack for your hiking trips and excursions
Every Moment of Your Adventure is Worth Remembering
We truly believe the full story of your adventure elopement deserves to be documented, just as much as a traditional wedding. We live full time on the road in our own off-grid van, and can easily join you for one or multiple days of your adventure.