Sunny days, clear skies, and open roads! These are everyone’s ideal conditions to go on a road trip, especially a cross-country excursion. Road tripping is a staple summertime activity, along with camping and barbecuing. However, it’s pretty apt to say that the road less traveled often has something much better to offer. No, we are not suggesting that you take a road trip literally on some unknown route.
Instead, we are suggesting that you take that much-delayed cross-country road trip with your partner or best friend during the shoulder season of fall. Not only will you find the roads a lot less crowded, but with little prep, you’ll be able to have the best time of your life. From stunning fall foliage to cheap food and accommodations, you’ll be able to enjoy the road trip much more than you would during the peak season.
If you’re reading this article, it means you have either made up your mind to go on a fall road trip or are still on the fence. Here are some tips to have a great fall season road excursion to help you along.
Plan Your Route Carefully
The fall season is often characterized by pleasant weather and clear skies; however, weather can be unpredictable. To have a good time and ensure that you don’t get stuck in bad weather on a highway, it would be best to keep checking the weather forecast of days leading up to your road trip and thereon. Advanced AI weather forecasting websites like Tomorrow’s Weather will help you keep a check on the weather.
While planning a road trip during the fall season, try to plan it during early fall while the weather remains pleasant and is expected to stay that way for days to come. It would be best to avoid icy and snowy roads and fewer daylight hours that one might witness in the last leg of fall and the beginning of the winter season.
One of the best scenic routes to embark on during the fall season is the Great River Road from Minnesota to Louisiana. It is considered America’s best scenic drive during the fall and follows the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles spanning across 10 states.
Make an Itinerary
Having a set itinerary will go a long way —pun intended— to help you manage the road trip quite effectively. Once you have decided what route you’ll be taking for the road trip, pinpoint locations along the way where you would like to make night stops. Nobody can drive for 12-18 hours straight and must not as it’s simply unsafe.
Set a general rule as to how many hours you plan to drive during a day, with the upper limit being eight hours that too if you and your road trip buddy are taking turns. Depending on the driving hours, and accounting for the pit stops, determine the city you want to make the night stops throughout the trip.
Choose Your Pit Stops
Speaking of night stops, do your due diligence and find out overnight accommodations in the cities where you have planned to stop for the night. From friends and relatives places to Airbnb, there’s no shortage of options. However, if you are looking at hotels and Airbnb, consider places that allow walk-in bookings, as you can never predict your ETA when on a road trip.
The good news is that since you are undertaking the road trip during the shoulder season, the chances are high that most hotels and lodgings will have vacant rooms. In case you are tight on budget, you can also explore options like Couchsurfing, which charges a small membership fee and lets you stay with a host for free, and you can do so for every planned pit stop on your trip.
Prep and Pack Deliberately
After you have planned your trip and down to the last detail, it’s time to move on to the next stage, prep, and pack for the journey. The most crucial step at this point is to get your car checked up and serviced for the long haul across the country. You wouldn’t want your car dying on you in the middle of an isolated stretch of a highway. Therefore, get a proper inspection and servicing done before you embark on the trip. Make sure to put a working spare tire, jumper cables, and a car safety kit in the booth.
Pay equal attention to your packing. There are many helpful road trip packing lists online that will help you decide what to take. However, as a general rule of thumb, carry layers suitable for cold, rains, and sunny days as you might face varying climates as you move from state to state. Don’t forget to pack essentials like blankets, food items like protein bars, water jugs, and a first aid kit.
Get, Set, Go
You’re now all set to embark upon your life-changing cross-country excursion during the best time of the year. Take time to talk to locals when you’re stopping for sightseeing to get the best advice for things to do and places to eat in. Rest assured, you might discover a gem or two that were not on the radar, but locals will be able to tell you about them.
The best part of a road trip and having your vehicle is the flexibility to be spontaneous and explore opportunities that you did not initially plan. So, be spontaneous, let your hair down, and enjoy the time of your life.