I’ve taken 8 major road trips in my lifetime, spanning from 2011 to 2022, and I have learned many lessons along the way. Three were cross-country, from Indiana to California/Arizona, and the other five encompassed a multidate of states (one was 16 states total) and stops. Now, I’d like to share those lessons with you! Whether you agree or disagree with my “5 rules of road trips”, that’s ok! These are simply the things I have personally learned along the way and now adhere to in my road trip travels.
So, without further ado, here are 5 important lessons I learned from my time on the open road:
- Rule #1: Don’t be cheap on the hotels. It’s enticing, because – if you think like I did – you’re only sleeping there, right??? Why would you need a fancy, schmancy hotel room for one single night, in which you’ll probably spend 15 hours, max? Well, cheap hotels are exactly that – CHEAP. You will get what you pay for.
- Rule #2: If you think one, full day is enough time to see any major U.S. city – it’s not. Any large city like N.Y.C., Philly, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami (even cities like Phoenix or Myrtle Beach), will all require a minimum of 3 full days. The people, the traffic, the lines to the attractions – causes everything to take forever. If you do only have one, full day, prioritize the 3 main things you want to see/do and stick to that. If you have extra time to see/do other things, great!
- Rule #3: Never drive more than 8 hours a day. After 8 hours, everyone in the car gets a bit crabby and cramped, especially when driving through traffic congestion or areas with tons of construction – of which highways tend to have a lot. 8 hours is usually the limit for many people.
- Rule #4: Don’t try to cram a bunch of things into one day, no matter how minor or un-time consuming they may appear. You may think, “Oh, we’re gonna be driving and can stop whenever we want, for however long we want, why not plan all these things?” Well, because, you will not, without a doubt, get to even half of those things and someone in your car is going to drive away disappointed. Guaranteed. It’s best to plan a select number of big stops/things, *and if you have time*, do the other little things.
- Rule #5: Don’t always pre-book your hotel. The last rule is strictly for road trips – if you’re flying or taking a train, you should book in advance. This is likely the most controversial rule on the list and even I have very mixed feelings about it. I used to be an avid pre-booker (as there are advantages); however, after some of the things I experienced during my road trips, my mind is somewhat changed. You should absolutely pre-book for large cities, like N.Y.C., but other than that, if it’s not a busy time of year such as on or around a holiday, you should be fine booking your hotel the day of, or the day before, if that’s your jam. This is mainly because during road trips, PLANS CHANGE, and they change fast. Having an ever-looming cloud over your head that you already paid for a hotel in a city 8+ hours away, when you’ve gotten a late start, there’s a ton of traffic, someone got into accident, you’re having car trouble, too many bathroom breaks, you hit road construction, the stops you’ve made are taking longer than expected (the list really goes on and on)… is NOT a good feeling. If you do want to always pre-book, you can usually pay an extra fee (around $20+) to be able to cancel your reservation; however, most hotels won’t let you cancel past the 24-hour mark (some are 48-hours), so keep that in mind. Remember, A LOT can change within 24 hours on a road trip.
I hope these rules help anyone have the best road trip experience they can have! Safe travels, everyone! 🚙💨
P.s. Please enjoy my “Roads of America” tour down below!!