How to Plan a Road Trip through America

How to Plan a Road Trip through America

Planning a Road Trip of a Lifetime through America

A road trip is one of the best ways you can experience the wonders of the United States. Back in September 2019, my partner and I had a fabulous 2-week road trip through America. 

As we were pretty busy during the months leading up to the road trip, I took on most of the planning and trip itinerary, including accommodation and things to do. It is also worth noting that we were on a tight budget, so had to go for the cheaper options. Nonetheless, we had a fantastic holiday and I thought I’d share with you my top tips on how to plan a road trip through America.

1. Get Inspiration for your Road Trip

This is the most important step. I downloaded some road trip itineraries from sites like STA Travel and Trek America to see the most common tourist routes. I also read some travel blogs and visited the tourism sites which were great for getting some inspiration for planning our road trip.

America is a huge country, so it is important to have some idea of where you would like to go and how long for.

2. Roughly Plan your Route

Don’t worry about the time you want to spend in each place yet, but make a note of all the places you want to see on your road trip. Print out a map or use Google Maps to pin your ideal destinations and start to plan a route. 

3. Make a List of Activities in Each Destination

Research tourist sites and attractions in each destination of your route and make a list of everything you’d like to do as well as the time it takes to do, along with any other booking information.

4. Select your Holiday Dates

If you’re not going for a particular reason and can travel at any time, I highly recommend using SkyScanner to find cheap flights and narrow down your holiday dates.

5. Book your Flights and Accommodation

Once your flights are booked, you can start to look at booking your accommodation.

With your list of activities in each destination, you should be able to start piecing together how many nights you want to spend in each place. You can either pre-book all your accommodation or be more spontaneous and try to book something when you rock up.

This is also a good time to decide if you want to hire a campervan or if you want to hire a car and stay in hotels. If you decide to hire a campervan, make sure to do some research on where you can stay. For example, Yosemite was fully booked when we went so you need to pre-book certain campsites and you wouldn’t get along very well in a big city.

Regardless of your plans, I would highly recommend booking a hotel for when you arrive and also the night before you fly back. This will enable you to rest before/after your flight and ensure you have plenty of time if anything goes wrong.

6. Book Popular Activities

Some activities and tourist attractions need to be pre-booked, such as Alcatraz. Make sure you know which activities these are and book any popular activities before your trip to make sure you don’t miss out.

7. Put your Final Itinerary Together

Now you’ve booked your flights, accommodation and activities, you can start pulling your American road trip itinerary together.

What to Include on your American Road Trip Itinerary?

When putting together my final itinerary for our American road trip, I always made sure to include the following information:

  • The date and the main activity/drive each day
  • Any money that we had to pay upon arrival for booked accommodation or activities
  • Accommodation name, address and phone number
  • Booked activities address, time, phone number and reference code
  • Drive time and mileage between destinations (this meant we knew how much fuel we needed and ensured we didn’t arrive anywhere in the middle of the night).
  • Any last-minute fun things or restaurants we could go to if we had time

Have you planned a road trip through America? Let me know in the comments below!

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