Ready to pack your bags, load up the trunk, and head off on an unforgettable cross country road trip? Exploring the roads of America is a great way to learn more about what this country has to offer. You’ll discover unique cultures, historical (but also random) landmarks that make for great trivia facts and meet amazing people along the way. But before you drive off with the sunset in your rearview mirror, there are a few things you should know. We’ve created a travel guide for you to ensure you’re fully prepared for your cross-country excursion.
Have a reliable car
Before you go anywhere, you’re going to need a reliable car that can go the distance. Sure, a 1995 Honda that’s almost as old as you may seem like a good idea to drive 3,000 plus miles through various terrains. However, more likely than not, you’ll find yourself on the side of the road waiting for roadside assistance with a blown transmission or other mechanical problems. When planning a cross country road trip, make sure you, a friend, or a family member has the perfect new car for your summer travels with minimal miles and no mechanical issues.
If finding a reliable car is out of the question, you can always rent a car. Or, you can sell your old car and buy a new or used one. If buying a used car, opt for a certified pre-owned vehicle, such as a certified Mercedes for sale in Houston or a certified Volkswagen for sale in Seattle. Wherever you plan on beginning your trip, a CPO vehicle is a great option. CPO cars are cheaper than new cars and are inspected by factory trained mechanics using CPO approved parts, ensuring it runs like it’s brand-new.
Create a (loose) plan
Mapping out where you and your passengers want to visit will help you schedule your trip, plan a budget, and find places to stay, whether hotels, camping, or at a friend’s house. You should always create an itinerary so you can see all of the unique landmarks (such as the world’s largest ball of twine) and national parks found throughout the US.
However, make sure your travel plans are loose and allow you to stray off the beaten path. You never know what locals might recommend you see, or whether you’ll come across a “road closed” sign that alters your entire route. That’s the fun of cross-country road trips! You never know what to expect and a detour may lead you to something truly amazing. We also recommend getting off the highway and taking backroads to explore the local scenery. There are plenty of map apps that tell you which roads are scenic, and which are simply strip malls.
How much (or little) you pack depends on how long you plan on spending in the car to tour the United States. Regardless, you’ll spend at least a few weeks to make it across the country and back, so packing accordingly will ensure you have enough food, clothes, and supplies to make your trip comfortable. As you begin to pack your car, make sure you don’t forget these items:
- Clothes for all weather conditions (heat, rain, cold, etc.)
- Car emergency kit
- Jumper cables
- Reflective triangles
- Cell phone charger
- Tow strap
- First aid kit
- Triangular bandages
- Disposable gloves
- Cough medicine
- Pain killers (aspirin, ibuprofen)
- Travel pillow and blankets
- Tent, portable grill, sleeping bags
- Toll pass
- Portable charger
What many road-trippers fail to realize is that the US is pretty big. And when you’re traveling between destinations, you’ll notice a lot of the scenery begins to look the same for miles on end. Whether you’re driving past endless farms of corn in the Sun Belt, almond trees in California, or the flat desert out West, having fun things to do will make the time go by faster. So, grab your phone and make a variety of playlists such as summer hits of the 2000s, 80s rock and roll, some disco, and modern music.
When you run out of music or don’t want to listen to the same songs on repeat, download podcasts. There are plenty of murder-mystery, comedy, historical, and documentary podcasts that will captivate any listener. And don’t forget classic car games, either! Whether playing the license plate game or 20 questions, these travel gadgets will help you make plenty of memories while you’re on the road.
A cross country road trip is a great way to see the marvelous wonders of America. From the Great Smokey Mountains to Yosemite Valley and everything in between, there’s so much to see in this beautiful country. These tips on how to prepare for traveling cross country will make this a trip one for the history books.