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  • Writer's pictureTrey Tracy

Planning Your First Cross-Country Road Trip — From Start to Finish

By Emma Grace Brown, guest contributor

Whether you plan to travel the world or across the United States, travel planning is key. And when you work with a travel planner, you’re guaranteed expert knowledge through a custom-planned trip. Connect with travel expert Trey Tracy to plan the vacation of your dreams today!

The best way to see any country is to travel by car. If you’re a young traveler or new to traveling in general, long-distance road trips across the United States are a wonderful start to your adventures. If such a trip piques your interest, travel advisor Trey Tracy offers the following tips on how to prepare, where to stop along the way, and what to do once you get to your destination.

Preparing for Your Travels

Besides having a reliable car, there are certain road trip essentials you should make sure to obtain before you depart — and a reliable phone is one of them. There are amazing apps to assist in emergencies and GPS apps that will help you find the best route, alert you to high-traffic areas, and show you rest stops, food, gas stations, coffee, and places to sleep. It’s like having a personal travel assistant wherever you go!

Before purchasing a new phone, check to see if your provider offers mobile phone deals. You may be able to swap out your old phone for a new discounted model.


Packing should be well-thought-out but not stressful. You’re driving through the US, so if you forgot something, you’ll likely pass countless stores along the way to find what you need. Don’t overwhelm your car with clothes, but pack enough that you won’t have to do laundry. Some travelers choose to drive back, but others who rent a car and are pressed for time may choose a flight home. If that’s the case, you’ll want to limit what you have to carry on your return.

Also, plan for emergencies. Make sure you have the following:

● Water

● Medicine

● Snacks

● Flashlight

● Blanket

● Sanitizer

● Trash bags

Plan Your Trip

A true cross-country trip should go from one coast to the other, regardless of what side you start from. The best part of the trip will not be the final destination, but the experiences and sights along the way. If you start from the East Coast, start by choosing a Northern or Southern route to get to the opposite coast. Some popular spots along the way are:

● Big cities like Chicago (northern route), Saint Louis (central route), Nashville (southern route), and New Orleans (southern route)

● The Blue Ridge Parkway through the Smoky Mountains (southern and central routes)

● Mount Rushmore in the Dakotas (northern route)

● Route 66, which expands from Chicago to Los Angeles, includes towns and museums and goes by way of the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas (northern route to southern route)

● The Alamo (southern route)

If you’re on a tight schedule, work with a travel advisor to help plan your day-by-day itinerary, stops, and where you will stay. If you have some flexibility in your itinerary, it may be worth it to explore, let yourself take time in places that interest you, and stop at places you hadn’t planned. Keep in mind, however, that driving can be exhausting and you’ll want to soak up the moment, so plan to stay at least a couple days in one place midway through your trip.

Enjoy Your Destination

There is something so freeing and satisfying about arriving at your intended spot. Revel in your destination. The perks of starting on the East Coast and ending on the West Coast is that you can see great coastal spots from the tip of Washington down to the bottom of California. If you choose a northern route, you can enjoy the lush greenery of Washington and Oregon. Plus, Northern California offers beaches, wine country, and San Francisco. Highway 1 down California’s coastline is a treasure. The Southern California coastline is simply paradise.

Road trips are a great way to travel and capture wonderful memories. You don’t have to break the bank to have a wonderful trip, but you can plan for reasonable meals and lodging while seeing national treasures. Get equipped with the right phone, food, water, and emergency gear. Plan your trip, enjoy it, and then revel in your destination.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Ready to plan your next road trip? Contact Trey Tracy for assistance.


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