I’ve taken 10 road trips in my lifetime, spanning from 2011 to 2023, and I have learned many lessons along the way. Three were cross-country, from Indiana to California or Arizona, and the other seven all encompassed a multidate of states (minimum being 3 and maximum was 16) 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 some things I have learned along the way and now adhere to in my road trip travels, and would like to share with you. ☺️
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: Plan wisely. 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. (Like Rule #2)
- Rule #5: Don’t always pre-book your hotel. This last rule is strictly for road trips – if you’re flying or taking a train, book in advance. This rule should also only apply during non-peak season and if you’re driving more than 8 hours per day. You should always pre-book for large cities, like N.Y.C., but other than that, again, if it’s not peak season or around a holiday/event, you should be fine booking the day of or day before. This rule is on the list because during road trips, PLANS CAN CHANGE, and they can change fast. It’s not a good feeling to have a looming cloud over your head that you’ve already booked and paid for a hotel in a city 8+ hours away when you’ve gotten a late start, there’s crazy traffic, there’s been a car accident, the highway is shut down, you’re having car trouble, took many bathroom breaks, there’s road construction, the stops are taking longer than expected, got a flat tire, etc. If you insist on pre-booking, you can usually pay an extra fee (around $20+) for the option to cancel your reservation; however, be advised, *most* hotels won’t let you cancel past the 24-hour mark (and some are 48-hours), so bear that in mind. Just 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!!