Taking a road trip across the USA is a great way see and experience the diversity of the nation. Many people plan trips to the US, and then only visit one or two major cities. They end up leaving with the impression that the rest of the country is basically the same. The reality is, that the US is so diverse you will find entirely different cultural traditions and environments as you travel across it. Sometimes two cities are so different you’ll wonder if you’re even in the same country! Here are a few tips for planning that great American Road Trip.
Pick a Route
The first step is to decide where in the US you want to start and finish. Depending on the amount of time you have I suggest one of these three rough itineraries. The first one takes you running along the East Coast, hitting major cities like Miami, Atlanta, DC, New York, and Boston. The second route would take you along the West coast and allow you to visit Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, and San Diego (Las Vegas could also easily be added). The third route however woud provide the best mix of the two. You could hit New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, and LA. Each of these basic routes can be shortened or expanded, depending on your needs. If you’re feeling like a true adventurer you could go for the “Mother of All Trips” and do what we did: drive from Florida to Alaska and back!
Hire a Car
Since you’re going to be road tripping across the majority of the USA, your rental car is hugely important. You want to pick something that has great gas mileage, but is also roomy enough for you, your stuff, and all of your passengers. If at all possible, try to rent a small SUV or Crossover that is either hybrid or diesel. You will save a ton on gas money and you should have plenty of room. It’s also wise to go for the GPS and the toll system transponder, since they will both save you time and money while on the road.
Find a Hotel
Notice I said find a hotel, not hotels? Why? You want to find one chain or brand of hotels that is present in every major US City that you will be passing through. Then sign up for their rewards program. Once you do that you can start staying in the same hotel, build up loyalty points, and eventually end up with free nights by the end of your trip. The trick is to avoid booking your hotel for the last few nights and then only make the reservation once you have enough reward points. You can also sign up for their actual credit card and you will usually get an extra boost of bonus points pretty quickly.
After you’ve done the three things listed above, my personal recommendation is that you just go! Seriously, I know that sounds like silly advice, but it really works. If you just get in your rental car and start driving, you’ll give yourself the time to take the scenic route and enjoy some fantastic adventures as opposed to driving yourself nuts sticking to an itinerary. Almost every interstate in America has a more scenic parallel route. Take this and you’ll find lots of fun roadside attractions and mini adventures you’ll never forget. Remember, the most important part of every vacation is having fun!