So many of us have dreams of a road trip across the U.S. It’s a huge country and if you’ve had this on your bucket list for a while, why not make it a reality? You’ll get to see and do so much like experience the freedom of the open road and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.
My boyfriend and I road tripped around the West Coast and we had a blast. So hopefully some of these tips can help you plan your road trip across the U.S.
Here are some points you should think about:
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Where do you want to go and how much time do you have?
If you have a longer period of time, maybe it would be best to do more of the U.S. – like going across from one coast to the other. But if you’re pressed for time (or just want to stay longer in each place), will you focus only on a certain coast, or maybe just the south?
The country is absolutely massive and from mountains to climb up and ski down, to national parks and roller coasters, you will surely find something of interest.
What route will you take?
Once you specify which part of the U.S. you will cruise down, you should choose the route you will take. There are lots of routes, each one giving very different experiences, so make sure you do your research beforehand. Also bear in mind the kind of landscape and scenery you want to see, and which attractions and landmarks you want to visit the most. This will make deciding planning your journey easier.
How many people will join you?
Depending on how big the trip will be, maybe it will make sense to go with more people. Four-six people would be a good number, as costs can be split (check my resources for the best app to keep track of costs with others), everyone can take turns driving, and it will be more fun!
You know how they do it in the movies: blasting music, windows down, eating tons of chips and junk food. That’s more like it!
What will you drive?
There are a number of road trip companies you can book through if needed. These companies offer car rental and they have set routes so you know exactly where you’re going. This could be a good option if you prefer something a bit more structured or are new to this kind of thing and a bit unsure of what to do.
If you go at it alone, you’ll most likely have to rent a vehicle (unless you’re more of a free spirit). But be wary that renting a car might cost more if you’re under 25. (This is another good reason to have multiple people with you…maybe someone will be older!)
You can even hire them for one-way trips, meaning you don’t have to go back to return the car. This gives you the option to drive wherever your heart desires and to leave the car on the opposite of the country!
You could go for a standard car or an RV – this is a good way to go since it means you’ll have somewhere to stay – which means even more freedom. You don’t need any special additional license to drive an RV, but you should be comfortable with driving a large vehicle.
Where will you sleep?
If you’re driving an RV you will able to stop just about anywhere provided it’s safe and legal. Although you might want to make hotel stops every so often so you can shower properly and sleep comfortably.
If you’re traveling by car, where you’ll be staying mainly depends on your budget. If you’re traveling cheaply, motels and hostels are a good way to go. Make sure to check out Hostelworld if you’re looking for last-minute hostels to stay in.
If your budget is bigger, you can stay in nicer hotels, but watch the cost to make sure you don’t run out of money early on in your trip (I think we’ve all been there). No matter if you’re in the city or even in the stunning wilderness, you can find good places to stay. Take the Clarion Inn & Suites Russellville in Arkansas for example. It’s famous for its mountains, caves, rivers and hot springs and is an underrated destination to visit. If you bring camping equipment you could also go camping or “glamping” in some of the awesome campsites and national parks that you pass.
What about food?
Again this depends on your budget. You could make grocery stops and stock up on non-perishables, or you can cook in your RV – if that’s the car you decide to take. This is one way to eat cheaply, especially if you will be on the road for a number of weeks. You could also treat yourself to something a bit fancier if there are particular places you want to experience on your trip. OR, (maybe my favorite idea), you could visit bustling markets in the daytime and eat delicious street food. Make sure to try out the cuisine that each state or area is famous for.
Extra tips for your road trip across the U.S.
- Make sure to always have water with you (maybe even buy a cooler to keep ice, drinks, and snacks in)
- Don’t forget sunscreen — being in a car won’t protect you from the sun
- Tying your hair up might save you some stress with a hairbrush later — you can also go longer without washing if you have different updos like braids and buns
- Make sure to check the car frequently – does it need an oil change? Is the check engine light on? Are any of the tires deflated? Can you use the air conditioner in the middle of nowhere? Stuff like that — maintain the car so you can avoid headaches
- Also, please… please… please don’t drive if you’re tired
And the most important tip of them all:
HAVE FUN. Have a slightly structured trip but don’t be afraid to loosen up and make things up as you go. If you want to stay somewhere longer, go for it! It’s probably the only time you will get to do this specific road trip across the U.S., so you might as well enjoy every second of it.
Do you have any tips or questions for a road trip across the U.S.?