Resources: July 2020 Speakers Forum: Planning a Road Trip – Orange County to Houston

Are you considering a scenic driving trip for your next vacation? The American Southwest offers lots of spectacular sightseeing for an awesome road trip. We picked the route from OC to Houston because the Mensa World Gathering was in Houston in August of 2021, and some of us wanted to drive. But, even if you aren’t planning on driving the 1500+ miles to Houston, this Speakers Forum in July was a fun and educational armchair travelogue.

Our presenters were Mensan Megan Edwards and her husband Mark Sedenquist. Megan and Mark have driven over a million miles in the U.S. and Canada. In 1996, they founded the website Road Trip America, that gives tips and suggestions for awesome driving trips.

Here are links to interactive maps and helpful suggestions for road trips along the route from Orange County to Houston, TX.

Orange County to Houston Road Trip Planning

The home base where these two planning  pages will live forever:

Most Direct Route is 1538.7 miles.  Averaging 9 hours per day would take three days to reach Houston.

  • Both maps are interactive now to everyone – you can scroll-in, scroll-out or use the little guy for looking at street level.
  • Both maps can be printed by anyone now – and when you click on the “print map” link it gives you the option to also print all  of the “attractions” info you see on the maps.  These are not every attraction found on the routes – these are CURATED CHOICES by RTA Contributing  Writers – “OF UNIQUE INTEREST TO ROADTRIPPERS”

If you become a registered member of RTA (free) you can save and edit these maps, create your own custom versions and share maps with people.

So, the idea of these 20 maps is to offer alternative routes in both directions that allow scenic side trips from points along the Interstate Highway.

** A couple of the alternative scenic routes are longer than we recommend be done in  one day – If we were to build a specific route, we would recommend that it be customized to fit a unique road tripper.   Some would  work best with an  overnight stop along the way.

The top of each page – East-Bound and West-Bound has a map with the fastest, most direct route between Irvine and Houston.

All of the photos can be found along one of the routes.

Additional routes and information about scenic routes in Arizona and New Mexico can be found in Rick Quinn’s book: Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips  There is a great map of the routes on this page:

General Tips

Avoid driving more than 350 miles in a day.  Absolute max on a speed run should be 500 miles.

Generally taking into account fuel and food breaks, construction and normal delays, the average speed in CA, AZ, NM, TX over a day’s travel is 57 mph  (this assumes that when possible one is driving 75+ MPH)

Avoid driving  at night.  Fatigue/ etc.

Motel Reservations

Cooler and eat  lunch and dinner  — fresh food

Stay in a motel with breakfast provided.

RoadTrip Companion  Compatibly – Quiz in the link

Rental RV – More expensive than  car rental + motel – but can  be nice

Temperatures – Almost the entire route will be over 95 degree F – some of it will be 110+
Drink extra water.  Don’t drink alcohol

We have some tips about solo roadtrips,  travel centers, in the links.

RoadTrip America has a community of expert roadtrippers providing tips, resources and advice.  It’s free and helpful.

Coronavirus concerns – We have included a thread about issues from a real trip being planned right now.

One of the site resources is a listing of campgrounds found all over the USA and what they have there.  We have a special section on Civil War campgrounds (not a part of the Houston  trip).


Expert Advice from RoadTrippers: