A road trip cross country is a great way to see many places in our beautiful country. There is so much to do and see that we could never get through it all in one lifetime, let alone the span of a three-day weekend. If you need the right vehicle check out Portsmouth Ford for a grand collection of fine vehicles.
Since most people don’t live near their vacation destination, you’ll need to plan accordingly and budget time for travel days between your destinations. No matter how many stops you intend or how long it takes, some essential considerations can help make your trip easier and safer.
1. Map out your route with Google Maps
If you’re driving across town, this may not be necessary, but if you’re planning on multiple stops along the way, planning will ensure a less stressful experience while on the road. By mapping out where you’re going cross country, you can figure how much time to allocate for each stop or destination and allow yourself extra time in case of delays (i.e., construction, traffic accidents).
2. Know your route and surroundings
If you don’t know the area where you will be driving before beginning your trip, do some research online about what attractions are nearby or through which cities/counties might be good to stop along the way. Having at least an idea of these areas will help prevent getting lost if you lose cell service (it happens) and give you a better appreciation for the beauty around you!
3. Take extra cash with smaller bills
As exciting as it might be to go on an epic road trip, it’s not exhilarating when you spend hours or days looking for a bank or ATM so you can grab some cash. Gas stations and convenience stores are the most likely places to find them but they typically charge extra fees to take out money, so having additional small bills will save you time and money.
4. Have your vehicle checked before leaving
Even if your car is in top shape, sometimes things come up unexpectedly that could leave you stranded along the side of the highway with no cell service (not fun). If there’s an issue with your car that might become problematic during your cross country travels, make sure it gets fixed or at least looked at before heading out. Worst-case scenario: bring your AAA card with you and call for help as soon as possible if you do break down.
5. Get some rest the night before your adventure begins
You don’t want to hit the road already tired or hungover from partying too hard the night before (been there, done that). Your road trip might be long and exhausting, and you’ll likely feel even worse after a sleepless night before leaving town.
6. Stock up on snacks
Choosing healthy snacks like trail mix, fruits & veggies, yogurt cups, granola bars, nuts, beef jerky can keep your energy up without requiring too many pit stops throughout the journey. Energy drinks may also be helpful, but they’re also loaded with sugar so try to limit that.
7. Stay hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated on long cross country drives, no matter how much you might be drinking water every few minutes (not recommended). Make sure your car has wiper fluid, too, because it can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than running out of gas.
8. Secure loose items in the car
If you have pets, make sure they are in a pet carrier or strapped down securely in your vehicle before leaving your driveway. Pets left in cars parked outside in the heat is an issue year-round but even more so during summertime when temperatures spike up to triple digits for days at a time.
9. Be aware of current events and laws when traveling across state lines
You might consider checking the map ahead of time to note which states border yours, and knowing their laws will help you stay out of trouble (and avoid longer jail sentences). For example, if you’re coming from a state with legal marijuana, weed is still not allowed in most other states. A good rule-of-thumb is generally: don’t leave your stash in view or within reach of any minors with you (including yourself), even if they are your children. It’s up to each individual whether or not it’s worth the risk, but more often than not, people have still been arrested for possession simply because they had weed on them while crossing into another state.
10. Stop at rest stops along the way
Rest stops are designated, government-regulated areas typically located just off the highway with clean restrooms and free running water. Even if you’re not feeling sick or anything, it’s always good to stop by at one of these on your journey every few hours (or right before sleeping). They usually have some vending machines with snacks, drinks, etc., so they come in handy when you forget to pack extra provisions for road trips (which happens more often than not).
11. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding music choices
Road trip playlists may not be the most critical decisions that will be made, but they can certainly affect your mood while driving or who makes future selections. Try to choose songs that everyone in your car will agree upon (or at least tolerate).
12. Avoid road rage
Driving can be stressful, especially when you’re behind someone who is driving too slow for your tastes, or you get cut off by another driver because they are distracted by something else. Keep calm; it’s not worth getting into an accident over (unless there was some severe offense like the other person tried to run you off the road, but that doesn’t happen often). If you need to yell or vent, do so in private in your car before calming down and moving on. Don’t take out any aggression on innocent bystanders either by acting like a jerk just because of what happened while driving. People around you don’t deserve that.
13. Choose an appropriate car to take.
No one wants to be stuffed into the backseat of a compact car with four other people plus luggage for a ten-hour cross country drive or sit in the trunk, which isn’t meant for passengers either. Discuss how many people/bags/items each vehicle can accommodate ahead of time, especially if it’s not enough space and you will need to rent/borrow more cars from friends/family before leaving town. Or better yet, consider taking a bus or train instead, which has a lot more legroom and seats explicitly reserved for travelers having large personal items like suitcases and bicycles (trains tend to allow pets on board too).