Driving cross country

Hey all,

I'm feeling extremely burnt out over school and this whole quarantine and want to think about driving cross country. I'd be driving east coast to west and back and stopping frequently along the way.

I'm looking to do it at the end of this summer after my internship ends and before school starts up again (mid August to first week of September), so maybe around 18-20 days in total. Obviously if quarantine hasn't ended by then, I'd likely have to push this to after I graduate.

Has anyone done this before, and have any tips or suggestions for routes to take/places to stop? I likely won't have time to stay too long at many places but could explore different cities for a day or two here and there for sure.

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Comments (20)

May 6, 2020 - 2:05am

Are you renting or taking a personal car? Depending on how much you plan to drive each day, which car you take should be taken into huge consideration
Edit: just thought that I should add maybe looking into joining a rally like Lux?
Edit again: you have to be sponsored to join them by a current member, but if that sounds interesting maybe look into other rallies
Edit again again: I looked again and you'd only have to average 3.9 hours of driving a day, that doesn't take into account actual stopping distances though. For me, with only four hours of driving I'd definitely go big and rent something badass to drive

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May 6, 2020 - 2:29am

I have done several cross continent road trips in the US, Europe and Asia.

to consider:
cost
time
roadside attractions/places to visit
technology
car / maintenance/spare parts, tools
route
accommodation
safety

All of this is a fairly complex endeavor. For some people it is all about time, for some about cost, others want the best scenic route or visit friends across the nation.

1) Plan what you are trying to achieve
2) Draft up a route
3) research attractions, museums, friends, parks, destinations along the way that match your hobbies and interests
4) vehicle maintenance
do a thorough inspection of ALL mechanical, electrical, suspension, safety and convenience parts. to preventative mainteanc and on't skimp on parts that are essential. (not required if car is younger than 3 years)
5) equipment
At least you'll need a good camera, gps tracker, 2 smartphones, 1 backup emergency phone and prepper supplies. need a full list of supplies (food) and other stuff.
6) change the route
by this time you will have new ideas how the route shall look like. change the route 1-2x and have in total 3-4 different routes available. just in case and so you can adapt.
7) combine the several lists into 1 so that trip, destination, attractions, etc match up.
8) Inquire for motels/hotels along the way before you drive. At least the first 4-7 nights should be pre-booked. you can do the rest from your phone
9) add the cost section
10) Let someone else (parent, friend, etc) look over your plans as a second pair of eyes
11) are you into vlogging, blogging, location tracking, geo-caching, (..) ? consider what you need for this
12) buy all the stuff you don't have yet, additional tools, supplies, gadgets
13) put everything into google maps
14) start packing your car logically

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  • 3
May 6, 2020 - 2:30am

the entire planning process took about 3 months in the shortest form for me.
long - term planning was 1 year for a car rally

costs were way higher than expected, at least for me.

  • car maintenance (did everything myself) was 800 including new pump, battery and brake parts
  • motels are 40-50 per night, some are more, few are less
  • gas is cheap atm, so no problems there
  • supplies, technology can be several hundred or zero if you have everything
  • food subsidy is at least 10$ per day, better 15-20. restaurants are more
  • you have to account for mileage, depreciation, additional parts and insurance requirements like breakdown cover
  • admission fees for attractions, parks, museums, events, key hobbies
  • shopping will increase when you travel, you will by memories and really good items. account for 20 per day in the worst case
  • gifts for friends, old and new friends - on road trips you'll meet many new people. If you really like someone, give them something to remember you by. Doesn't have to be expensive, but it is a nice gesture

  • Preparation is key
    A lot of people just want to wing it and jump into their car and drive. A really successful Great American road trip entails way more planning than other vacations.
    This starts at having new business cards designed and printed and ends with writing up lessons learnt when you come back to improve the next trip.
    Planning goes from using the right credit cards, through understanding travel reward schemes, to even doing proper research about the different cultural aspects of America

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May 6, 2020 - 2:31am

shortest time for cross country would be 6 days (like car rallies)
most enjoyable trip will need about 2 weeks and a few days
scenic routes and adequate sleep will required 3-4 weeks

roadtripusa. com
travelinglifestyle. net/7-things-to-consider-before-going-on-a-cross-country-road-trip-usa/

you obviously have to plan the trip twice as your return route will be different.

20 days return is feasible, but a bit tight. it depends on what you want to see along the way. this is a very interesting and costly trip so I would make sure you see all the key things.
also, for 2020 most events are canceled, so you will miss out on those.

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  • 1
  • Intern in CorpDev
May 6, 2020 - 3:39am

This has all been very helpful and insightful! Looking forward to planning for this as I look for something to do before my internship starts!

May 6, 2020 - 4:05am

Good luck! Please could you come back to this thread and update us with the route and any further questions?

Are you planning on doing a historic route (route 66, oregon trial, ..)

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  • Intern in CorpDev
May 6, 2020 - 5:38am

Yes absolutely! I don't believe I will. I'm coming from the northeast, so time permitting the plan is to drive due west to Seattle, go down the west coast, then come back through Texas to Florida and up the east coast.

May 6, 2020 - 1:33pm
  • Add some budget for dating. Girls from other places are very different and mysterious. Even if you don't bag her, you can still have drinks with her or a meal. Enjoy the time off from the girls you see all the time back home.
    Travel has always had something magical about it - girls can feel that you are from another place and will be intrigued about it. Plus, you are "outside of your comfort zone" anyway; go for it!

  • Try to forge a "bucket list" for this event and make sure to tick off as many items as possible. This can be something standard like "swim with dolphins in Santa Monica", more medium level like "do a scenic drives through fall foliage in New England", or entirely crazy like "fly down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in a wing suit" (just examples)

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May 6, 2020 - 1:56pm

Wow- every time I've driven cross country I've done none of this planning- I just threw my camping gear in the back of my 30 year old truck with 350k miles on it and then used google maps to find an interesting place in the right direction for my first night. I think about a month is a really enjoyable way to explore but I've done the coast to coast power drive in 3-4 days as well (not recommended unless you really just need to get the car there with you and can't wait/afford shipping).

Some of my favorites:
- Glacier National Park- absolutely stunning hikes
- Pacific Coast Highway- best drive ever
- Moab- go mountain biking or rent a Jeep
- Eat at the bar in a random Applebees somewhere in the rural midwest- talk to the people there- it will surprise you.

May 6, 2020 - 3:37pm

Can I pm you to swallow some medium sized capsules and move them across the U.S. for me? I pay cash on delivery. It's no big deal, I swear. They rarely explode.

May 6, 2020 - 4:22pm

US DOT has a list of All-American roads and National Scenic Byways. Safe to assume most of the roads listed are worth seeing. #VanLife is possibly the most over saturated content on YouTube, I'm sure there are some good insights buried in all the vlogs.

Love the idea btw, hope to see it go through. Thought of doing it as a student and never made it happen - a life regret for sure.

May 6, 2020 - 9:26pm

Did it this past summer with a few friends, Chicago to Seattle. Took I-90 across South Dakota, saw Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, did a few nights in downtown Seattle. All pretty much brand new to me, very cool though. Cannot recommend enough, there's something very bonding and very relaxing about just zooming across the country at 80+ mph jamming out or talking. We have to finish the second leg, some old lady rear-ended me on I-5 south of Olympia and totaled my car lmao. Will definitely be carving out some vacation time to finish out next summer.

May 7, 2020 - 6:50am

There are plenty of cool ways to cross the country. I've never done as epic of a road trip as you are planning, but I've driven to every contiguous US state except Maine.

The badlands in SD across to Yellowstone is pretty amazing. Denver to LA through Southern Utah and Vegas is pretty incredible. Southern Utah looks like Mars...check out Zion national park.

Last year I helped a friend move from Charlotte to Denver, and we drove a massive moving truck from Charlotte to Atlanta to Birmingham to Oxford (spent the night) and then took backroads to go across Arkansas to get to Tulsa and then Denver...that was incredibly fun. I'd recommend a Southern route, go up the West coast and go home by a Northern route.

  • 1
Apr 28, 2021 - 9:19am

If you doubt whether you can overcome this journey on your own as a driver, it is better not to take any risks. Especially if you intend to really enjoy the beauty of the area where you are going, then as a driver, you will not succeed. Perhaps someone will disagree with me. Personally, in my experience, in all the trips I have been on as a driver, I have not felt any relaxation and pleasure from the rest. I was always focused on the road because I had a huge responsibility for the lives of those who were with me in the car. On the next such trip, I decided to use the services of a Recruiting Agency on avatarfleet.com. Now I go on a trip with my family only with an experienced driver. But if you are willing to take the risk, then good luck.

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