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An iconic road trip which many people dream of is the Great American Road Trip.
Thanks to the huge footprint of the states combined, there are so many routes and iconic landmarks worth paying a visit to.
Whether you are interested in spending time with your loved ones on the road, or if you want to plan a trip that is packed with landmarks and tourist attractions, you can make the Great American Road Trip work for you by adapting the duration of the trip, scheduling different stops, or planning additional entertainment such as portable movie players.
The great thing about these road trips is that they can be as long or short as you like, which means that you can choose to pack in as few or as many points of interest as your trip allows.
Your Great American Road Trip can be customized to suit you.
This is a complete guide with everything you should consider when planning your road trip across the states.
How To Plan A Road Trip
Firstly, it is important to plan ahead when you want to go on a long road trip so that you are sure that you have prepared for a range of events, and that unexpected surprises are less likely to occur.
Allowing additional space within your schedule for accidents, unplanned activities, and other events can be helpful in the long run nonetheless.
This is especially essential when you are planning to travel with children, because they are more likely to require more bathroom stops and entertainment on the road.
Make sure you are keeping the following points in mind when you are planning your trip in order to make it as smooth as possible.
Choose A Destination
It could be worth planning to visit all of the attractions within a particular state, or creating your road trip plan with multiple destinations in mind.
The great thing about road trips is that you can visit multiple destinations in one trip because you will be traveling more.
Because the United States boasts some of the most diverse landscapes and planes of land, many people who are planning a road trip are spoilt for choice.
The first step to planning your own Great American Road Trip is to choose a particular destination and think about how long it will take to get there with regular breaks.
Depending on what type of road trip you want to go on, and whether you are planning to spend a great deal of time on the road or if you are planning to book a flight, it is worth choosing a destination that can be traveled to and enjoyed within the rough time frame that you have in mind.
This allows you to be a little more realistic about your plans and know how much time you can spend relaxing at your destination location.
Plan The Route
Once you have decided where you want to go, it is important that you plan your route with regular breaks and the different scenery that you will be surrounded by.
Some people also focus on looking for routes that stop by other attractions that they can visit on the road.
Planning your route for your road trip allows you to calculate the total cost of gas, accommodation, and food supplies.
It can also help determine how long the trip is expected to take, which can help if you need to book time off work or schedule a house sitter.
For those who are concerned about their safety on the road, it is also useful to share your route with loved ones, neighbors, or family members so that you are easier to keep track of in an emergency.
Digital and paper maps are highly recommended during a road trip, because internet signals can be a little less predictable when you are moving.
It is best to plan your route ahead of time, so that you know what to expect, where to stay, and where to eat. Ensure you allow for plenty of downtime when determining how long each hotel or camping reservation will need to be.
Make sure you are spending time resting in the evening or even scheduling a few lazy mornings so that your road trip doesn’t feel overly regimented at all times.
Calculate The Cost Of The Trip
There are a range of tools available online that can help you estimate how much your road trip will cost, and it is definitely worth doing ahead of time so that you can set the money aside or even begin saving for it.
Consider gas, RV camping stations that may need to be booked ahead of time, travel insurance if necessary, and other forms of accommodation while you are on the road.
Some people choose to stay in hotels that are strategically located on their route, whereas others prefer to camp on particular sites, in an RV or tent on the side of the road.
Whatever your preferences are, it is worth being realistic about the estimated cost of your trip ahead of time. In terms of cost, it could also be useful to keep a small amount of cash in notes and coins within your vehicle.
This can make toll roads easier to pass through, and pay for the parking meter.
Some people choose more luxurious road trips which are much more pricey. These include tour guides, booking exclusive experiences with local vendors, and impressive hotels and accommodations.
However, you can equally plan a road trip on a budget by camping or staying in an RV.
Prepare The Vehicle
Now is the time to decide what vehicle you want to travel in. Think about the pros and cons of renting an RV, and whether your family car is up for a long drive.
It could be worth getting it serviced when you are still planning your road trip, so that any small faults can be corrected beforehand.
It is easy to forget about or avoid doing, but you should check your vehicle’s oil levels, tire pressure, and breaks while you have the time to get them fixed before your road trip.
Make sure that the AC and heating system is working correctly ahead of time, too.
If you are unable to get your body to the right temperature consistently, it can be one of the reasons why you could have an unpleasant experience on your road trip.
It is worth making a cozy environment that is comfortable and warm when needed.
Additional weight such as luggage and other supplies should be accounted for when you are checking the air pressure in the tires of your vehicle.
This is because the extra load can impact tire pressure, which will affect the chances of staying safe on the road.
Research Things To Do
Take a closer look at the local attractions within a particular area you are planning to visit.
It could be interesting to find unique activities that provide a more authentic experience of the place.
This could be wading through oyster pools, looking through caves for gemstones or sampling local produce.
It is worth planning your activities and things to do ahead of time, so that you can find something that works for all members of your group and piques everybody’s interest.
Researching things to do also allows you to book in plenty of time and ensure that everybody will have something to look forward to.
For those who have a group with more varied interests, it could also be useful to book different activities that appease certain areas of interest.
This could include more interactive experiences, visiting playgrounds, or wine tasting for adults. Make sure you find a good balance of things to do within the area you are visiting on your road trip.
Make A Packing List
This can prevent you from over packing because you will feel more confident that you have everything you may need.
For those who are more visual thinkers, it could help to create a checklist with specific categories ahead of time.
That way, you can tick things off once they have been packed and allow you some peace of mind in the long run.
Consider your essentials such as medication and other supplies that are needed by yourself or other members of your group.
It could even be made into an interactive game with children, if you print out images of certain items that they can pack.
Make sure that there is plenty of room in your road trip vehicle for everybody’s essentials, home comforts, and clothing layers.
Consider the type of accommodation you will be staying in, and pack according to this. For example, those who are sleeping in an RV need to check that they have plenty of food and snacks.
On the other hand, people who choose to stay in hotels will need to bring snacks that can be eaten cold on the go.
Similarly, it is worth thinking about your accommodation when you are deciding which bathroom products to pack. These include towels, toilet paper, hand soap, and shampoo.
Consider packing extra towels to keep in your vehicle for warmer weather in case anybody decides to swim in a river, lake, or creek on a hike and has to sit in the car afterwards.
How And What To Pack For A Road Trip
The great thing about road trips is that there is no limit to the baggage you take, and the number of bags you want to pack.
Make sure you know what type of packing process works best for you, and that you are prepared for anything.
Try to pack things that help with comfort and allow you to sleep on the road if possible. This includes an eye mask and neck pillow.
It is also important to pack plenty of layered clothing that is suitable for the climate you are in and planning to travel into.
For those who are more active and want to spend time outdoors, it is essential that you bring a high quality pair of boots or walking sneakers that are comfortable as well as supportive.
Depending on how you want to travel and the type of vehicle you are going to take, it is also worth keeping plenty of supplies ready.
These include meals that are easy to heat up, plenty of snacks, and games for children and adults.
A deck of cards is always useful to get a group to create stronger bonds, and you could bring a soccer ball if the weather is going to be clear.
Think about what type of places you would like to visit, and pack accordingly. For example, bring snorkeling gear and beach accessories if your destination is along the coast.
Sun protection is a must, and it could also be worth fitting your vehicle with UV resistant paneling on the windows for added protection during long drives.
Similarly, those who are planning a road trip in colder areas should pack accordingly.
This means bringing additional layers, warm clothing and fuzzy socks for when you are winding down for the evening.
Make sure that you are packing some of the essentials for any road trip.
These include spare tires, both paper and digital maps, a small first aid kit, license and registration, the manual for your car or vehicle, and proof of insurance.
The Best Road Trip Routes
These are some of the most iconic road trips which have become highly popular in recent years. They have some of the best routes and roads that are surrounded by some of nature’s wonders.
Consider the following list of the best road trip routes to decide the type of route you want to take.
Some people choose to fly to a particular destination which they then use as the starting point for their trip, while others try to begin and end their journey at their homes.
This isn’t always the case, especially if you want to travel on the iconic road trip routes.
It is, therefore, important to acknowledge that you may find yourself driving longer distances than the initial road trip route.
Because of this, you should make sure that this is accounted for during the planning stages of any road trip ahead of time.
This is one of the original routes that helped shape the American Road Trip, and it goes all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica.
Make sure you fill up your car before changing into California State lines, because gas is a lot more expensive after that point.
Route 66 was originally celebrated as a symbol of the evolution of road transportation, and many tourists began driving on it when they could so that they could feel like a part of this history.
This was one of the first highways of its kind, as it is both trans-continental and year-round.
The Appalachian Trail
Truly a bucket list item for many nature lovers, the Appalachian Trail features some of the most breathtaking views of waterfalls, mountains, and theme parks from Georgia to Maine.
The Appalachian Trail is an ideal choice for groups of people who love to hike, explore nature, and even climb certain mountains.
Many people hike this trail, but you can definitely fit more in if you choose to make a road trip out of this route.
The stunning beauty is accompanied by a huge selection of activities along the way.
The Great Northern Road Trip
Featuring Highway 2, the great Northern road trip is known as ‘America’s Upper Half’.
This route can take you as far as Canada if it is followed all the way, and demonstrates some amazing beaches from the Pacific to the rainforest environment of Olympic National Park.
The Great Northern Road Trip explores some beautiful mountains, valleys, and lakes across the Northern States. This could be a great choice if you live in this area, and have 2-3 weeks spare.
An original wagon trail route that was first laid by fur traders during the nineteenth century, and it spans from Cape Cod to Georgia. Thanks to the modern era, bridges and roads have made the route faster than ever before.
You can follow Interstates 80 and 84 westwards to see the original trail, and even plan to stop and explore certain areas on foot. This is an ideal choice for someone who is interested in historic developments.
The Great River Road
This is another great route to plan a road trip around, because you can explore some iconic tourist attractions located between Minneapolis and the Gulf of Mexico.
Explore the unique selection of local cuisine that is celebrated along the Mississippi river, and enjoy the slowed pace that comes from a meandering road that passes through small towns, villages, and passes over many bridges where possible.
The Great River Road, or GRR, is credited for encouraging people to take their time and savor the experience.
Spend time by the iconic river and take it all in with the GRR. This is a great way to enjoy the river and appreciate local businesses that are a little off the beaten path.
This is due to the meandering roads that pass through smaller villages and towns, which celebrate authentic cuisine and products.
Border-to-Border Road Trip
From dormant volcanoes to adorable college towns, the Border-to-Border route has it all.
You will be surprised by the natural beauty, historic sites, and national parks that this journey has to offer.
There are miles of untouched landscape that can be seen on this route, and exploring this can encourage a greater sense of appreciation for the natural world surrounding us.
This could be an ideal choice for someone who wants to spend more time surrounded by nature, or hiking in the wilderness.
Something else which makes this route stand out is that it can be followed straight into the bright neon lights of Las Vegas.
It is worth planning to stop at the Snake River, which is carved into a deep gorge near Twin Falls.
There really is something for everyone on the Border-to-Border road trip, and it presents a great opportunity to tick off a few items from anybody’s bucket list.
Atlantic Coast Road Trip
If you want to explore coastal towns that have their own selection of interesting historic attractions along the way, then the Atlantic Coast route could be an ideal road trip for you.
Covering the tropical scenery of Florida Keys as well as the foliage of New England, this route is incredibly diverse.
Because a range of climates and weather conditions are explored, it is worth packing more clothing choices when you are preparing for your big road trip.
For those who want to skip certain stops along the way, it is easy to cut to I-95 and spend less time on the road.
Things To Do
Another important thing to remember is planning things to do on your road trip. There is a delicate balance between scheduling too many activities and not having enough to do each day.
Think about food, drink, bathroom breaks, and allowing additional time just in case something comes up.
This can lead to complaints of boredom from children, which is why you should always have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep them entertained when you are doing something that isn’t too interesting to them.
Try to balance child-friendly activities with attractions or experiences that are more interesting for the adults in the group so that everybody is kept happy.
Museums, restaurants, and historic places are great ways to learn more about a particular region.
It could also be useful to do your research ahead of time and see what type of experiences are unique to a particular location.
These are some of the different things you can do when you are road tripping and exploring somewhere new.
Most people view road trips as vacations, and the activities that you do can be a great indicator of this.
For example, you could rent bicycles for the day, go kayaking, snorkeling, shopping, or simply exploring local attractions.
On The Road Trip
Plan particular destinations and tourist attractions so that you and your group will have something to look forward to.
You can keep things interesting by finding a souvenir from every attraction you visit, or try to take a photo at every state line crossing.
Make your road trip special and unique by coming up with exciting activities that will establish some level of flow.
Some people even go as far as to order the most extravagant meal at every restaurant they go to.
This could be a giant steak, or taking on a particular food challenge to complete a meal within a particular time period.
In terms of food, it could also be fun to research each state’s highest rated restaurant and make a booking for your group there.
This can be interesting because it will allow you to act like food critics for the day. Another thing to do could be to plan a hike in a nature reserve, visit bucket-list attractions, or visit a relative or friend who lives in the area.
In The Car
This is another thing that should be varied based on the age of people you are traveling with, where their interests lie, and whether they are prone to travel sickness.
For example, somebody who cannot read or focus on something out of fear that they will be sick could be in charge of the music, or even listen to an audiobook alone with a set of headphones.
Depending on the group dynamic within the vehicle, it could also be fun to create a custom playlist that everyone can add to before the road trip.
This is an ideal way to combine everybody’s music preferences, and even learn a little more about each other.
Another creative idea to enjoy time spent together on the road could be to create your own travel games.
There are a huge selection of travel games on the market nowadays with magnetic boards, however these are often easier to lose the counters or even a deck of cards.
Avoid games which involve a lot of small pieces, as they tend to be easier to lose on the road when the vehicle is turning round sharp bends.
Trivia games, riddles, and other mind games are ideal because they do not require specific equipment, and everybody can play, including the driver.
For the nature enthusiast, it could be fun to look out of the window or sunroof for new bird species.
This allows an opportunity for them to teach other members of the group, which doubles as a chance to get to know each other a little better.
There are many things to consider when you are planning a road trip which can make the whole experience smoother and more enjoyable for you and all members of your group.
Think about what type of areas you are interested in visiting and exploring.
It could be worth planning your road trip according to budget, the amount of people who you want to travel with, estimated time frame, or a particular route’s proximity to your current location.
Because everybody has different requirements and views on particular attractions, there are so many different routes to choose from on your next road trip.
The great thing about road trips is that they can be as intensive or as relaxed as you like.
This is ideal because it means you can completely customize your experience, and allow for particular detours and last minute changes such as restaurant reservations.
Make sure you are planning based on your interests, needs, and preferences and that you take the time to explore new areas, appreciate tourist attractions, and historic monuments during your road trip.
Many people enjoy the simplicity that comes from packing up your luggage into a vehicle and hitting the road, which is part of the reason why road trips are so popular nowadays.
Why not see for yourself what it’s all about and start planning your next road trip today!