Although a successful road trip requires little more than a vehicle, a modest budget, and a little vacation time, very few people ever get to experience a cross-country road trip for themselves.
If you're entertaining the idea of taking your friends or family on a journey across the country, you'll want to make sure you're prepared well in advance. Here are 11 tips to keep in mind before you embark on your cross-country road trip.
A two-way trip from Washington state to Florida can consist of anywhere between 80 and 120 hours on the road, so it's unrealistic to expect one person to handle all of the driving. Make sure you're traveling with at least one or two other people who can take over when a driver grows tired or uncomfortable.
Whether you're traveling with family or a few friends from college, some of your traveling partners may not yet have their driver's license. If time is on your side and your road trip is months out, start working towards getting them licensed.
One of the fastest ways to ruin a road trip is to get pulled over due to an expired registration or insurance policy.
Make sure your car is registered and that your updated insurance cards are stored conveniently in your vehicle.
Before you leave, confirm that your car will actually make the journey. 2,000-3,000 miles, two ways, is a trip that not all vehicles are capable of handling.
Make sure your service is up to date, and that your lights and tires are in great condition for long-distance travel.
In many cases, it's more cost-effective to rent a car for your road trip. By doing so, you eliminate the wear and tear that your own vehicle must endure, and you prevent any costly repairs that may pop up after you return home.
Especially if you currently lease your vehicle, renting a car is a no-brainer! A cross-country road trip is bound to put your vehicle over its annual mileage limit, resulting in expensive fees charged to you for extra miles traveled.
Naturally, your car is going to become increasingly dirty and untidy over the course of a cross-country road trip. Taking an already-cluttered vehicle on the road will only create a headache for you and your party.
Clean your car and minimize the list of items you bring on your trip so that those you're traveling with will remain comfortable.
Road trips can certainly be affordable, but they have the potential to get out of hand as well.
Before plotting out the different sites, landmarks, and local hot spots you plan to visit, make sure you account for all of the expenses that are built into any road trip:
If you plan to drive across the continental U.S. in a relatively short period of time, there's going to be very little room for indecisiveness. Plan out the logistics of your trip with your family or traveling buddies.
Budget in hand, make a clear list of priorities and supplement those checkpoints with optional stops.
Planning is essential, but things often go wrong. You might stop to see a landmark that catches your eye. You might spend an extra hour or two at lunch. You might even get lost!
There are going to be constant distractions that threaten to pull you off course. It's important not to overplan, so that you can adjust as needed and avoid the heartbreak of missing out on some of the destinations you had planned.
For $80 or less (depending on your age and demographic), you can obtain an annual pass to all national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and grasslands.
If you only plan on visiting one or two federal recreation sites during your trip, then an annual pass might not be for you; but if you're traveling with a crew that loves the outdoors, the annual pass can be a cost-effective option for your trip.
Firing up Google Maps and simply driving towards your final destination might sound thrilling, but typically, it makes for a frustrating experience.
Traveling unnecessary distances in order to hit different checkpoints, driving on roads that are under construction, and passing through extra toll plazas are just a few scenarios that will test your crew's patience.
Ready to forge some unforgettable memories with family and friends? Maintaining a balance between preparedness and spontaneity will ensure that your next cross-country trip is a successful one.