Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip: Deciding Your Route
According to an old adage, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Those accustomed to road trips, whether by car or RV, know the joy and freedom that’s in the journey. Part of planning a cross-country road trip, of course, is mapping out your route. But how do you nail down the route you want to take? Deciding where to go is one of the more subjective parts of road trip planning. We’re not here to tell you which paths to take — only to help you decide which one you want to go down.
Depending on your time frame, you may only be able to focus on a particular region — Or, for the trip of a lifetime, maybe you can afford to linger, seeing sights and wonders throughout the United States. Your time frame is a good starting place when figuring out where you want to go. While it can be constricting to have to limit your trip to a few weeks, it also will offer helpful boundaries when you just can’t decide where to go.
Pretty much everyone has a budget of some kind. There’s money for gas, food, attractions, admissions, toll booths…the list goes on and on. Your budget should help put the reins on your travel plans and help you decide what’s feasible and affordable. No one wants to get halfway through their trip to discover empty pockets.
Identify What You Want to Experience
What do you want to see? Talk to your companions. You may have to negotiate so that everyone has something he or she wants to do, see or experience in the itinerary. You may be the person who wants to experience national parks, hiking trails and the great outdoors along the way, but someone else may want to go to Disneyland. Plan out the places you want to visit. Whether it’s a historical city, national park or other attraction, having determined goals will help you piece together your route.
Use Roadtrippers. They have a tool to help you plot out your cross country road trip. Not only does it give you a recommended path from point A to point B, but you can set waypoints in other cities and get estimates for travel time and the cost of gas (you can make adjustments to the estimate when you enter your vehicle’s MPG) and sync your route with their app on both Android and Apple smartphones. Drive Cross Country also has useful resources for planning a cross country road trip, including what attractions are along some tried-and-true road trip routes. Don’t feel like you have to start chart your cross country road trip from scratch. Route 66 is famous for a reason, after all. Search the Internet for useful lists like Top 5 Summer Road Trip Routes for Anywhere in America from TravelNerd. There are plenty of tools and opportunities to plan your ideal cross country road trip. Stop saying “someday” and get to road trip planning now! What are your favorite travel routes? Let us know in the comments. image credit: William Warby