Guide to Planning the Ultimate American Road Trip

April 2, 2022
The American map with pinned landmarks.

Are you looking for an adventure of your lifetime? Do you want to do what many thrill-seekers have done? Or: do you wish to pull a good ol’ Jack Kerouac East Coast-to-West Coast transition? If your answer to these questions is a modest YES, we’ve got something to talk about today. In other words: we’ve prepared a neat little guide on planning the ultimate American road trip. You’ll find it in the article below. Stay tuned for some helpful info! 

On the road

There’s a good reason why we’ve named the first paragraph like this. Ever since “On the road” (a 1956 book by Jack Kerouac) was published, the ultimate American road trip became a dream of many. Wandering the US highways, carrying a little backpack (remember the backpack revolution?), with nothing else to do but stick out your thumb and wait for your ride – that was the blueprint for an all-American adventure. Nowadays, rare are those who’d like to try something similar (hitchhiking and all). Times have changed, and you’d have to be pretty naive to hit the road with nothing to rely on but your hitchhiking thumb (unless you’re a daring adventure blogger). Still, who says you can’t plan out your great American road trip without picking up on beatnik/hippie ideals?

The American highway.

The ultimate American road trip was immortalized in culture with the 1956 publication of Jack Kerouac’s “On the road.”

Choose your destination(s)

So, what’s the deal here? What’s the picture you form once you think of the great American road trip? First things first, you’ll have to come up with a destination. In other words: you’ll need to figure out where the tour will start and where it will end. Of course, one can hit the road without an end in sight. Still, we guess it’s best to form a detailed plan for your road trip. What kind of scenery are you looking for? For instance, if you’re looking for fantastic weather & beautiful beaches combo, there are many places in the Sunshine State you can pay a visit to. If you don’t know what the Sunshine State stands for, we’re talking about Florida. Coming from the north, you’ll enjoy many beautiful US landscapes before you reach the southern beauty and Florida attractions. All in all: plan your destinations wisely before doing anything else. 

Book accommodation in advance

We’ll be quick here. Once you’ve planned out your route, you should start booking accommodation far in advance. You will get the best prices, and you’ll also guarantee there’s free room for you and your friends/family. That’s especially critical if you’re planning your trip during the peak season. 

Calculate the costs of the trip

Of course, a road trip’s always considerably cheaper than booking airline tickets, especially when you’ve got more than one place to visit. Still, it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy a cost-free holiday. One should think about many expenses: fuel, accommodation, parking, food, you-name-it. Keep all of those in mind while preparing your road budget. You don’t want to end up penniless in the middle of your fantastic US road adventure. 

A person holding a bunch of dollar bills.

Calculate the costs of your great American road trip (fuel, lodging, food, etc.). In other words: budget wisely!

Preparing your vehicle for the road

There’s no need to emphasize that it’s tempting to jump in your vehicle without any preparations and hit the road like there’s no tomorrow. Still, you’ll have to do some planning here for the best experience. Before starting your journey, make sure you pay a visit to the mechanic for a checkup. For instance, do it two weeks before the date you’ve set as day one of your ultimate American road trip. That way, you’ll have just enough time to address any issues that might come up. Also, ensure that the oil has been changed or your windshield wipers are up to snuff. If your car’s not big enough, you can consider renting an SUV/RV, depending on your preferences. 

Are you renting a vehicle or driving your own?

There are various reasons why you’d want to rent a car instead of driving your own on the upcoming road trip. For instance, if you lease your vehicle and have a set mileage, it’ll probably pay off more to use a rental for the all-American road trip instead of going over your mileage. Also, if you’ve got a car that isn’t what you’d call reliable, you should opt for something else. Being stuck in the middle of the desert, for instance, is not something you’re striving towards. Lastly, if you’re flying over to your starting point, you’ll need a vehicle to get around or back home once the trip’s over.

What to see?

Once you’ve decided upon the means of transportation, it’s best to think about the so-called “things to see” in the places you’re planning to visit. Thoroughly inspect each area to see if there’s something worth experiencing/seeing. Luckily for you, even in the most backwater US places, there are always some attractions you’ll surely enjoy. Not to mention the events you’ll find in NYC or some other big city. Don’t forget to visit important historic landmarks, especially traveling with your little ones. As one can assume, kids learn best when they’re not pressured by the classroom space. Also, don’t forget to bring some souvenirs back home.

The world map with marking pins.

Even the most backwater places in the US have fun attractions you can experience. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the area you’re planning to visit.

Don’t forget to pack

Of course, you shouldn’t forget about all the necessary items for the road. First, think about transportation and navigation. Everything related to your vehicle (from the owner’s manual to your driver’s ID) should be packed in your glove box. Also, don’t forget to add a list of emergency contacts, medicinal documents, etc. That way, you’ll guarantee the total safety of your passengers, besides driving like a conscious person (carefully). 

That’s about it

If you choose to follow the tips we’ve laid out above, you’re bound to enjoy your ultimate American road trip. Even though days of Kerouac and the beatniks are sadly over, it doesn’t mean regular folks like us shouldn’t enjoy a (domestic) cross-country trip. Quite the contrary! 

Chillwall_ lady on a boat

Related Article: How US States Are Recovering From the Pandemic in Tourism

Chillwall AI are creators of a superhuman concierge helping visitors to discover new travel experiences without searching.

Author’s bio: Stanley Frusciante is a travel blogger addicted to road novels. Besides sharing his surname with a famous guitarist, he’s a loving husband and father of two. 

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