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Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip: Getting Started

crosscountryroadtripThere’s adventure on the horizon! This is it. This is the year — you’re planning to go all out. You’re taking on the big one. You’re planning a cross-country road trip.

No matter how seasoned a traveler you are, planning such a long and arduous trip takes time and energy. Where do you even start? There are a million questions to sort through when planning road trips and we’re here to help you get organized and find the answers to make your dream road trip a reality.

Planning for a Cross Country Road Trip

Know Your Companions and Yourself

Everyone has a different travel style. You might enjoy getting as many miles under your belt as you can manage, or you might prefer to hit every stop on the way. When you’re in close quarters with your travel companions for some time, someone’s style may eventually clash with someone else’s. Depending on who you travel with, you may want to take a slightly shorter trip. Traveling alone is always an option, of course, but remember that spending that much time by yourself can drive you just as crazy as being with an incompatible companion. You may have to make adjustments for the sake of your sanity.

Map It Out and Prioritize

What route do you want to take? Are you a fan of the back roads or do you want to stick to highways and interstates? Do you want a mix?

Decide your end destination and make a rough (or specific) timeline. Leave room for delays and the unexpected, particularly if you’re the type of person who gets anxious when you’re off-schedule. Remember, too, to prioritize your trip. Which sights are must-sees and what can you skip? Be realistic about what you can fit into each day. It’s all up to your personal preferences and what you want your trip to be, but knowing what your top priorities are will help keep your trip going smoothly.

Arrange Lodging

The great thing about RV travel is that lodging  is much simpler. You have your bed with you! Even so, it’s a good idea to research campsites or RV parks or any other details you may need before you leave. Do the research and make any necessary reservations in advance, and then relax and enjoy the journey.

Budget Smart

Smart road trip planning means avoiding deficit panics. Start saving and setting aside for your trip as soon as possible. Estimate how much lodging, meals and attractions will run you, and look at average gas prices along the way. Give yourself enough room for two extra tanks of fuel in case of detours from your planned path. Giving yourself an ample cushion for your journey’s expenses will keep stress down and fun up.

Pack with a Discriminating Eye

You’re going to be on the road for a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring your entire closet with you. Pack things that you can layer and mix-and-match, and don’t worry so much about wearing the same thing throughout your trip. You may need to make arrangements, however, to hand-wash some clothing or stop by a laundromat along the way.

Make an Emergency Kit

Yes, that includes a cooler full of snacks and drinks. But really, make sure you have a stock of emergency supplies — a first aid kit, bottled water, flashlights, cell phone, roadside service contacts, can of oil and toilet paper. Other must-haves include CDs (or MP3/bluetooth hookups), phone chargers, a GPS or atlas and a written itinerary of your travel plans.

Vehicular Upkeep

Before your trip, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Get an oil change, check your brakes and take care of any other problems to ensure that your transportation is reliable. Install the Safe-T-Plus steering control device to make your drive smooth and safe!

image credit: Chuck Coker