The content in this post may or may not contain affiliate links. For more information, see my Affiliate Info page.
Road trips have always been a pretty popular vacation option. That popularity has experienced a surge lately, and it’s really no wonder why. COVID-19 cases are surging, thanks to the delta variant, making plenty of people a little nervous about sharing their transportation with other people. Taking a road trip offers a way to get out, take a vacation, see the country, and not have to share your travel space with a bunch of strangers who may or may not get you sick. Sold? Excellent. So now how do you go about planning your cross country road trip?
Choose Your Destination
Sure, you could take a road trip to anywhere and not have a specific destination in mind, but there’s not much that separates that from mindless wandering. That can get dangerous if you aren’t careful, so for most of us it’s just better to choose your road trip destination and let that guide you as you plan. Want to visit family on the other side of the country? Great. Make that your destination. Is there a place on your bucket list that you’ve been dying to see? There’s no time like the present. Craving a specific type of getaway? Do some research and find the most idyllic setting for it and choose it as your end point (or middle – you probably have to go back home at some point).
Plan Your Stops
Once you have a final destination in mind (not to be confused with the horror franchise – none of that here), it’s time to start planning the stops you’ll make along the way. There are a ton of state and national parks scattered across the country that are worth visiting. Depending on your interests, you can probably find some other related stops to make along the way too. Part of the beauty of going on a road trip is the opportunity to travel at your own pace so that you can see the sights and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside along the way. Curious about what that scenic marker is all about? Pull over and check it out. No one’s going to stop you from taking however much time you want.
Those aren’t the only sorts of stops to plan though. Regardless of whether you drive a gas vehicle or an electric one, you’re going to need to fuel up at some point. The nation’s system of gas stations has been well established for ages, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about where you’ll fill up, though it’s still not a bad idea to check your route for any stretches that could cause you some trouble. If you’re taking an electric vehicle, finding charging stations is an absolute must. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to figure out where you’ll be staying for the night as you go on your trip.
Once you’ve planned out where you want to stop for the night, it’s time to make reservations to ensure that you have a place to stay. You may get a better rate if you book at the last minute. You’ll need to decide how much you care about extra savings vs the peace of mind you get from knowing that you for sure have a place to stay. One of the things you’ll also need to take into account is what time you need to check in by and when your checkout time is. Sometimes if you check in very late you may find that you’ve lost your room. If you think you’re going to be checking in late, make sure you call ahead and let them know that you’re still planning on staying with them and when you intend to arrive.
Protect Your Car
You can always choose to rent a car for your road trip, but since your personal car is the one you’re most familiar with, and you already have it, it makes a lot of sense to take your own car. The thing is, road trips can be rough on a car. Because it’s your own car, and because you likely rely pretty heavily on it to get around normally, it’s important to take steps to protect it from things that could damage it. Products that are designed to protect your car’s paint can help. Clear bra protects your car from damage from sap, debris, rocks and other elements. Darkening your windows can help you avoid damage being done to the interior by the sun while also keeping things cooler.
Make Sure Your Car Is Road-Trip Worthy
The way your car looks isn’t the only thing you need to be concerned about. If you’re taking your own car you also need to make sure that it’s road-trip worthy. Make sure that your oil has been changed recently and that all of your fluids are topped off before taking off. Take a look at your tires. Are they in good condition or are they looking a bit worn? When was the last time you had them rotated? If you’re in doubt at all, take your car to a mechanic you can trust and have them look it over.
Have a Safe Driving Strategy
Driving can get pretty boring after a while. It’s one of the potential pitfalls of taking a road trip. You need to have strategies in place that will help you stay alert while you drive. Build regular rest stops into your trip. Have some of your favorite road trip snacks on hand. Make sure you’ve got a spare tire on hand, that you have the tools to swap it out, and that you know how to do it. Put together a small first aid kit that you can use in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Find a way to keep yourself alert, whether you turn up the tunes or listen to a favorite audiobook or podcast.
Proper planning is crucial to the success of a cross country roadtrip. Figuring out your route from start to end, including your stopping points along the way, can help you get the most out of your journey. It will also help you decide where you need to make reservations, giving you a better shot at a comfortable night’s sleep when you stop to rest. Just make sure that both you and your car are totally prepared and ready to go. That way you’ll be sure to have a good experience, no matter if you’re going solo or with a group.
Read this next: 4 Best Beach Vacations in North America for Total Relaxation