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How To Plan A Washington Road Trip With Kayak


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Joelie Lilley



Embarking on a road trip is a fantastic way to explore the beauty and diversity of Washington state. From the lush forests of Olympic National Park to the vibrant cityscape of Seattle, there is something for everyone to enjoy. But planning a road trip can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding the best deals on transportation and accommodations.


That’s where Kayak comes in. As a leading travel search engine, Kayak makes it easy to research, plan, and book all aspects of your Washington road trip in one place. From finding the most affordable flights and car rentals to discovering the perfect accommodations and hidden gems, Kayak has you covered.


In this article, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to plan the ultimate Washington road trip using Kayak. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie seeking culinary delights, this guide will help you make the most of your trip and create unforgettable memories.


So buckle up, grab your map, and get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime as we dive into the wonderful world of Washington road trips with Kayak!


Step 1: Research and plan your route

The first step in planning your Washington road trip is to research and plan your route. Washington state offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes and attractions, so it’s important to decide which destinations you want to include in your itinerary.


Start by identifying the key highlights you want to see. Are you interested in exploring the stunning natural beauty of Mount Rainier National Park or the rugged coastline of the Olympic Peninsula? Perhaps you want to experience the vibrant city life in Seattle or visit the charming wineries in Walla Walla.


Once you have a list of destinations in mind, research the best routes to get there. Consider the time you have available for your road trip and plan your daily driving distances accordingly. The Washington State Department of Transportation website is a great resource for checking road conditions and getting real-time traffic updates.


Additionally, take into account any specific interests or activities you want to incorporate into your trip. For example, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you may want to include hiking trails or camping sites along your route. If you’re a history buff, consider visiting museums or historical landmarks.


During your research, also take note of any seasonal considerations. Washington experiences diverse weather patterns, from mild summers to snowy winters in certain regions. Be mindful of how different seasons may affect road conditions and the availability of attractions, especially at higher elevations.


With the information you gather during your research, start mapping out your route. Use online tools like Google Maps or MapQuest to create a detailed itinerary, including the duration of each leg of the trip and notable stops or attractions along the way.


Remember, flexibility is key when planning your route. Leave room for spontaneous detours or changes in your plans. Some of the best experiences on a road trip often come from unexpected discoveries along the way.


Once you have a solid plan in place, it’s time to move on to the next step: using Kayak to find the best deals on transportation.


Step 2: Use Kayak to find the best deals on transportation

Now that you have your route planned, it’s time to start thinking about transportation for your Washington road trip. Kayak is an excellent tool for finding the best deals on flights, car rentals, and other modes of transportation.


Start by visiting the Kayak website or downloading the Kayak mobile app. Enter your desired travel dates and locations, and Kayak will search hundreds of travel sites to find you the most affordable options.


If you’re traveling from afar and need to book a flight, Kayak allows you to compare prices from different airlines and select the best option for your budget. You can even set up price alerts to be notified of any drops in airfare.


If you prefer the freedom of a road trip, Kayak’s car rental search tool is your go-to resource. Simply enter your desired pickup location, dates, and preferences, and Kayak will display a list of available rental cars from various providers. You can filter the results by factors such as car type, price range, and customer ratings to find the perfect vehicle for your journey.


In addition to flights and car rentals, Kayak also offers options for other modes of transportation, such as train or bus travel. Depending on your preferences and the locations you plan to visit, these alternatives may be worth considering.


As you browse through the transportation options on Kayak, be sure to pay attention to any extra fees or restrictions that may apply. Read the terms and conditions carefully before confirming your booking to avoid any surprises or hidden costs.


One of the advantages of using Kayak is its ability to save you time and money by comparing prices across multiple travel sites. Take advantage of this feature to find the best deals and discounts available.


Once you’ve finalized your transportation arrangements, it’s time to move on to the next step: booking accommodations through Kayak.


Step 3: Book accommodations with Kayak

After securing your transportation, the next step in planning your Washington road trip is booking accommodations. Kayak provides a convenient platform for finding and comparing prices on hotels, vacation rentals, and other lodging options.


Start by entering your travel dates and desired location into the Kayak website or app. Kayak will then search through a wide range of accommodations to find the best deals available.


When it comes to choosing accommodations, consider factors such as location, amenities, and budget. Do you want to stay in the heart of the city or immerse yourself in nature? Are you looking for a luxury hotel with spa facilities or a cozy cabin in the woods? Kayak allows you to filter your search results based on these preferences to find the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploring.


One of the advantages of using Kayak is that it provides you with user reviews and ratings for each accommodation option. Take the time to read through these reviews to get a better understanding of the quality and service provided by each establishment.


In addition to hotels, Kayak also offers options for vacation rentals, such as apartments, houses, or cabins. This can be a great choice for those who prefer more space, privacy, and the ability to cook their own meals.


As you browse through the available accommodations, pay attention to any additional fees or restrictions that may apply. This includes resort fees, parking fees, or cancellation policies. Make sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before making your reservation.


Once you have found the perfect accommodation for your Washington road trip, click on the booking link provided by Kayak to complete your reservation. Some accommodations can be booked directly through Kayak, while others may redirect you to the hotel or vacation rental website to finalize your booking.


Remember to keep a copy of your reservation confirmation for your records and to bring it with you on your trip.


With your transportation and accommodations secured, you’re one step closer to experiencing the wonders of Washington. Next up: renting a car through Kayak for your road trip.


Step 4: Rent a car through Kayak for your road trip

Having a reliable and comfortable vehicle is essential for a successful road trip. With Kayak, you can easily rent a car that suits your needs and preferences, allowing you to explore Washington with convenience and flexibility.


To rent a car through Kayak, start by entering your desired pickup location, dates, and times into the search bar. Kayak will then display a list of available rental cars from different providers, allowing you to compare prices, car types, and rental terms.


Consider factors such as the size of the vehicle, fuel efficiency, and any additional features that you may require. If you plan on driving through rugged terrains or in winter conditions, opting for a four-wheel-drive or SUV may be a wise choice.


Filter the search results based on your preferences to narrow down the options. You can select specific car providers, set a price range, or filter by customer ratings.


When selecting a rental car, be sure to read through the terms and conditions carefully. Pay attention to factors such as mileage allowances, additional fees, and insurance coverage. It’s important to understand the rental policies and any restrictions that may apply.


Once you’ve chosen the ideal rental car for your Washington road trip, go ahead and book it through Kayak. Follow the prompts provided by Kayak to complete your reservation, which may require providing your driver’s license and credit card information.


It’s recommended to opt for car rental insurance, either through the rental agency or your own insurance provider, to ensure you have proper coverage during your journey.


Before picking up your rental car, double-check the pickup location and confirm the reservation details to avoid any last-minute surprises. Arrive on time or arrive early, as some rental agencies may require additional paperwork or inspections before handing over the keys.


Make sure to inspect the rental car for any pre-existing damages and take note of them before driving off. This will protect you from any potential disputes regarding damages upon returning the vehicle.


With your rental car ready, you’re all set to hit the road and begin your Washington road trip adventure.


Next, we’ll move on to Step 5: creating a flexible itinerary for your road trip.


Step 5: Create a flexible itinerary for your Washington road trip

Creating a flexible itinerary is crucial for making the most of your Washington road trip. While it’s important to have a general plan, allowing room for spontaneity and unexpected discoveries can add excitement and adventure to your journey.


Start by outlining the key destinations and attractions you want to visit along your route. Consider how much time you want to spend in each location and allocate your days accordingly. Research the opening hours, admission fees, and any reservation requirements for popular attractions to ensure a smooth experience.


However, don’t feel compelled to stick to a strict schedule. Leave some buffer time for unexpected stops, detours, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the road. Flexibility allows you to embrace serendipitous encounters, stumble upon hidden gems, or extend your stay in a place that captures your heart.


As you plan your itinerary, take into account the driving distances between each destination. Be realistic about how much time you’ll spend behind the wheel and how much time you’ll have for exploration and relaxation. It’s better to narrow down your list to a few must-see places and fully enjoy them rather than rushing through a long list and feeling overwhelmed.


Consider the interests and preferences of your fellow travelers. If you’re traveling with a group, involve everyone in the planning process and ensure that there’s something on the itinerary for everyone. This could include outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or culinary delights.


When creating your itinerary, also investigate any seasonal events or festivals that may be happening during your trip. Washington has a diverse range of events throughout the year, from cherry blossom festivals in the spring to holiday markets in the winter. Incorporating these special events can add a unique touch to your road trip.


Remember that the journey itself is part of the experience. Don’t rush from point A to point B without taking the time to appreciate the landscapes, wildlife, and small towns along the way. Enjoy the freedom of the open road and take breaks to stretch your legs, take photos, and soak in the surroundings.


Keep in mind that unexpected situations may arise during your trip, such as traffic delays or closures due to weather conditions. Stay prepared by having a backup plan or alternative activities in mind for such occasions.


By creating a flexible itinerary, you’ll have the freedom to embrace unplanned adventures while still ensuring you visit the highlights of Washington. Next up, we’ll cover Step 6: packing essentials and planning for different weather conditions.


Step 6: Pack essentials and plan for different weather conditions

Packing the right essentials and planning for different weather conditions are crucial components of a successful Washington road trip. The state is known for its diverse landscapes, ranging from mountains to forests to coastal areas, each with its own unique climate. Here’s how to prepare for varying weather conditions and ensure you have everything you need for your adventure.


Start by checking the weather forecast for each destination and region you plan to visit during your road trip. This will give you an idea of the expected temperatures, precipitation, and any extreme weather warnings to be aware of. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s wise to pack versatile clothing options.


Layering is key. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing that can be easily layered to adapt to changing temperatures. This includes t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweaters or fleeces, and a waterproof or windproof jacket. Don’t forget to pack a light hat and gloves, especially if you plan on exploring higher elevations.


It’s essential to have comfortable footwear for hiking and walking. Bring sturdy hiking boots or sneakers that provide good traction for different terrains. Consider packing a pair of sandals or flip-flops for relaxation at the beach or in campgrounds.


Don’t forget your essential travel documents, including your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You may also want to carry a physical map or have a GPS system as a backup in case of any technology issues or areas with poor reception.


Other essential items to pack include a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and snacks for the road. Washington is known for its stunning natural beauty, so be prepared to encounter wildlife and be respectful of their habitats.


If you plan on camping during your road trip, ensure you have all the necessary camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bags, camping stove, and cooking utensils. Research the specific camping regulations and reservation requirements for the areas you plan to visit.


Consider packing a basic toolkit, such as a flashlight, Swiss army knife, and extra batteries. These can come in handy for unexpected situations or emergencies along the way.


Lastly, don’t forget your electronic essentials, such as a camera or smartphone, to capture the breathtaking views and document your trip. Pack all the necessary chargers, adapters, and power banks to stay connected on the road.


By carefully packing essentials and planning for different weather conditions, you’ll be well-prepared for your Washington road trip. Now, let’s move on to Step 7: exploring popular attractions and hidden gems in Washington.


Step 7: Explore popular attractions and hidden gems in Washington

Washington is a treasure trove of natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. As you embark on your road trip, it’s time to explore the popular attractions and uncover the hidden gems that make Washington truly special.


One of the must-visit destinations in Washington is Olympic National Park. Spanning nearly one million acres, this diverse national park offers breathtaking landscapes, including rugged coastlines, lush rainforests, and towering mountains. Don’t miss the stunning views from Hurricane Ridge or the picturesque beaches of La Push.


Another iconic spot in Washington is Mount Rainier National Park, home to the majestic Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano. Explore its numerous hiking trails, meadows adorned with wildflowers, and picturesque waterfalls. Sunrise and Paradise are popular areas within the park that showcase the mountain’s splendor.


For city enthusiasts, a visit to Seattle is a must. Explore the bustling Pike Place Market, where you can watch fishmongers toss fish and grab a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks. Take a trip to the top of the iconic Space Needle for panoramic views of the city and visit the fascinating exhibits at the Museum of Pop Culture.


For wine lovers, the Walla Walla Valley is a hidden gem in eastern Washington. This region is renowned for its wineries and picturesque vineyards. Spend a day touring the wineries, sampling award-winning wines, and indulging in delectable food pairings.


Head to the stunning Columbia River Gorge, where you can marvel at majestic waterfalls like Multnomah Falls and hike through lush forests. The Gorge also offers opportunities for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and other water activities.


Don’t forget to visit the charming Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Experience the festive atmosphere, taste authentic German cuisine, and enjoy outdoor recreational activities like hiking, rafting, or skiing, depending on the season.


If you’re a fan of outdoor adventures, the North Cascades National Park is a playground for hikers and backpackers. With its rugged mountains, glacial lakes, and pristine wilderness, it offers endless opportunities for exploration and breathtaking scenery.


While these are just a few of the popular attractions in Washington, don’t be afraid to veer off the beaten path and discover lesser-known hidden gems. Talk to locals, ask for recommendations, and be open to unexpected detours. You may stumble upon charming small towns, serene lakes, or secret hiking trails that will leave a lasting impression.


Remember to respect the environment and follow leave-no-trace principles while exploring Washington. Leave the natural beauty untouched for future travelers to enjoy.


With your itinerary in hand, embark on your Washington road trip adventure and immerse yourself in the wonders of this beautiful state. Next, we’ll cover Step 8: capturing memories and documenting your trip.


Step 8: Capture memories and document your trip

No road trip adventure is complete without capturing memories and documenting your experiences along the way. Here are some tips to ensure you preserve those special moments during your Washington road trip.


1. Bring a camera: Whether you prefer a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or simply your smartphone, having a camera handy allows you to capture stunning landscapes, unique encounters, and memorable moments. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and perspectives to add variety to your photographs.


2. Record videos: Consider shooting short videos to document your journey. These can be snippets of scenic drives, interviews with fellow travelers, or even time-lapses of changing landscapes. Videos add movement and help bring your experiences to life.


3. Keep a travel journal: Write down your thoughts, impressions, and highlights of each day. A travel journal allows you to reflect on your experiences, jot down funny anecdotes, and preserve your emotions on paper.


4. Collect souvenirs: Collecting small mementos from each destination can be a fun way to remember your journey. These could be postcards, ticket stubs, local crafts, or even pebbles or leaves from significant places. Display them in a scrapbook or create a unique souvenir box.


5. Use social media: Share your trip with friends and family by posting updates and photos on social media. Tag relevant locations and use hashtags to discover other travelers in the same region. It’s a great way to connect with fellow road trippers and obtain recommendations from locals or other travel enthusiasts.


6. Create a travel blog or vlog: If you enjoy writing or creating videos, consider starting a travel blog or vlog to document your road trip. Share your experiences, tips, and recommendations with a broader audience. It can also serve as a personal keepsake to look back on in the future.


7. Embrace the power of storytelling: Share your road trip stories with others. Whether it’s around a campfire, at a family gathering, or on a virtual platform, sharing your experiences helps solidify memories and allows others to be inspired by your adventures.


8. Be present and enjoy the moment: While capturing memories is important, remember to live in the present and savor the experiences as they unfold. Keep your eyes and ears open, engage with locals, and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and tastes of each destination.


With these tips, you can ensure your Washington road trip becomes a treasure trove of memories that you can revisit and share for years to come.


Congratulations! You have successfully completed all the steps to plan and embark on an unforgettable Washington road trip. It’s time to hit the road, immerse yourself in the beauty of Washington, and create lifelong memories.



Planning a Washington road trip with Kayak can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure a smooth and memorable journey through the diverse landscapes and attractions of Washington.


From researching and planning your route to using Kayak to find the best deals on transportation and accommodations, each step plays a vital role in creating a seamless experience. Remember to be flexible with your itinerary, allowing room for spontaneous adventures and hidden gem discoveries.


Packing essentials and planning for different weather conditions is essential to ensure your comfort and safety throughout the trip. With the beauty of Washington’s natural wonders and the vibrant city life of Seattle, capturing memories through photography, videos, journaling, and souvenirs will allow you to preserve those special moments for years to come.


By exploring popular attractions and uncovering hidden gems, you’ll get a taste of the incredible diversity that Washington has to offer. From the stunning landscapes of Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier to the charm of Leavenworth and the wine country of Walla Walla, Washington is a destination that caters to every interest and taste.


Remember to immerse yourself in the journey, enjoy the present moment, and be open to the unexpected. Share your experiences with others, whether through social media, travel blogs, or in-person storytelling.


As you embark on your Washington road trip, let Kayak be your trusted companion in finding the best transportation and accommodations deals. With its user-friendly interface and comprehensive search capabilities, Kayak makes the planning process seamless and efficient.


So, pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Washington awaits you with its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich culture. Let the road trip begin!