First I start off with Microsoft Streets & Trips to see how far the drive will be and what is going to be close. Then I set the fuel prices and MPG of the vehicle we are going to take so I know how much it will cost to take the whole trip but also how much it adds like if you want a side trip to add Wyoming. It gives me how much extra time as well as how much extra money that one cache/state will add to the trip to see if it worth it.
Then once I have the route close to set I add start to look it over on the live map in Geocaching.com or on Neongeo on my phone if I am not close to the computer so I can see how many caches are close and if there are any that I can't/shouldn't live without. That is how I found the HistoricAZ66 caches in Arizona. Also I add the top 40 caches by favorite points for each state so if we are close to a super cool cache we will not miss out.
So now we can see on the map some points of OUR interest without all the clutter. On S&T I can add departure times or arrival times to each stop so I know how long it will take to get to my next destination. With that information we know how many caches we have time to get without being late. We still will be late but at least we know we will :)
So without caches and potty breaks it will take us about 6 hours to go from Winslow AZ to Barstow CA. Along the rout we can use the times for any given direction to know how long it will take to get to our destination for the day. So lets say we cross into Cali at 5pm we can figure on getting in to Barstow at 7pm. I can also add caches to the route and give them an amount of time that we think it will take to find it.
So you can now see that by adding five caches burned up almost an hour on the clock and that is with only six minutes at each cache. That six minutes is from the time the car stops rolling to the time it starts rolling again. So you can see how time is very precious on these trips so better make it count when you stop. No light pole caches for us (unless it is at the parking lot of any place we stop).
I still have to go through the route and look at all the caches (within .5 miles of the route) to see if there is one we just have to get. this is a little time consuming but worth it if you ask me. I hate this part because I it shows me how little time we have and how many cool caches I want to get.
So as the trip planner the most important thing to plan for is the unexpected. It is like a budget, not set in stone because anything can happen at anytime, so all you can do is look at the plan and manage the time as best you can. So Steve this means no Mountain Dew on the trip! LIMITED POTTY BREAKS!!!!
I hope this helps anyone out there planning a Geotrip from a small one to an INSANE one.