How To Plan A Great Cross Country Road Trip

road in forest fall road trip in autumn

Taking a cross-country trip can be a fun and exciting adventure. Whether you’re traveling alone, with family, or with friends, a road trip is an excellent way to see different parts of the country and create unforgettable memories.

However, planning such a trip requires careful preparation to ensure that everything runs smoothly. In this article, we’ll discuss some key steps you can take to plan a great cross-country trip.

How To Plan A Great Cross Country Road Trip

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Choose Your Route

The first step in planning a cross-country trip is to choose your route. There are many ways to get from one coast to another, and each route offers different experiences and sights to see. Some popular options in the USA include Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, and the Great River Road.

Before deciding on a route, consider your interests and the time you have available. If you’re interested in history, for example, you might want to follow the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Plan Your Stops

Once you’ve decided on your route, it’s time to plan your stops. This will involve researching attractions, landmarks, and other points of interest along your route. You can use travel guides, online resources, and recommendations from friends and family to create a list of potential stops.

It’s also a good idea to plan your overnight stays in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season. Consider booking accommodation like a hotel in turlock, or camping sites ahead of time to avoid any last-minute stress.

Determine Your Budget

A cross-country trip can be expensive, so it’s important to determine your budget before you hit the road. Consider expenses like gas, food, lodging, and entertainment. You should also budget for unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical emergencies.

Once you have a budget in mind, you can begin to make decisions about where to stay and what activities to do along your route.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Your vehicle will be your home away from home during your cross-country trip, so it’s important to make sure it’s in good condition. Before you leave, take your car in for a tune-up and make any necessary repairs.

Check your tires, brakes, and fluids to ensure that everything is in good working order. You should also pack an emergency kit in case of a breakdown or other roadside emergencies.

Pack Strategically

woman packing suicase
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Packing for a cross-country trip can be tricky, especially if you’re traveling with limited space. To make the most of your packing, consider the weather and climate of the areas you’ll be visiting. For example, if you’re planning a road trip in Iceland or Alaska, you’ll want to pack warmer layers!

Pack layers that can be easily removed or added as needed. You should also pack snacks and drinks for the road, as well as a cooler to keep them fresh. Don’t forget essentials like a first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent.

Stay Connected

woman with white nails scrolling on phone while outside
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While a cross-country trip is a chance to disconnect from the world, it’s important to stay connected in case of emergencies or unexpected changes in your plans. Make sure you have a charged cell phone with you at all times, and consider investing in a GPS device or other navigation tool to help you stay on track.

You should also let friends or family know your itinerary and check in with them regularly to ensure your safety.

Research Local Customs and Culture

Redwood National Forest

One of the joys of a cross-country trip is experiencing different cultures and customs. Before you leave, take some time to research the local customs and etiquette of the areas you’ll be visiting. This will help you better understand and appreciate the places you’re visiting, and avoid any cultural misunderstandings or faux pas.

Stay Flexible

While it’s important to have a plan in place, it’s also important to stay flexible. Unexpected things can happen on a cross-country trip, from traffic jams to weather delays. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans as needed, and embrace any detours or unexpected experiences that come your way.

Connect with Locals

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Connecting with locals can be one of the most enriching experiences on a cross-country trip. Not only can locals offer valuable tips and recommendations, but they can also provide a unique perspective on the area and its culture.

Consider staying in locally-owned accommodations or dining at local restaurants, attending community events, or striking up conversations with people you meet along the way.

Document Your Trip

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Consider documenting your trip in some way. This could be through a travel journal, a blog, or social media. Not only will this help you remember the details of your trip later on, but it can also be a way to share your experiences with others and inspire them to take their own cross-country trip.

Plus, it’s always fun to look back on your travels and remember the amazing places you visited and the people you met along the way.

Leave No Trace

woman solo hiking with an amazing view in utah

As you embark on your cross-country trip, it’s important to remember the Leave No Trace principles. This means being mindful of your impact on the environment and leaving the places you visit just as you found them.

Pack out all your trash, respect wildlife and their habitats, and avoid damaging natural and cultural resources. By practicing Leave No Trace, you can help ensure that the places you visit will remain beautiful and accessible for generations to come.

Enjoy the Journey

Finally, remember to enjoy the journey! A cross-country trip is an opportunity to see new places, try new things, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Take time to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes you’ll be passing through, and make the most of the people and experiences you encounter along the way.

By planning carefully and staying open to the possibilities, you can create a cross-country trip that is both enjoyable and unforgettable.


Planning a cross-country trip requires careful preparation, but it’s worth the effort to ensure a fun and memorable experience. From choosing your route to packing strategically and staying connected, there are many things to consider when planning a successful trip.

By researching local customs, staying flexible, and documenting your journey, you can make the most of your cross-country adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, start planning that epic road trip and get ready to hit the open road!

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