3 Imperative Tips for Planning a Coast-to-Coast Road Trip

Last updated on April 4th, 2019 at 09:52 am. Originally published on February 21st, 2018

Want to see what there is to see from sea to shining sea?

For many RV campers, a coast-to-coast road trip is pretty much the holy grail of the travel destination bucket list. And it’s no surprise, either. A quick glance at your favorite road atlas just goes to show exactly how much there is to see and do in those thousands of American miles.

But a driving trip of this magnitude can’t be taken lightly. We’re talking about not just weeks, but possibly months of travel, and so much excitement and adventure along the way.

You’ve got to have a strategy!

So whether you’re planning to hit the road with nothing but your backpack or you’re getting geared up with all sorts of gadgets for a luxurious, leisurely adventure, here are some of our best tips for a coast-to-coast road trip tour across America.

East Coast to West Coast Road Trip

While an RV isn’t necessarily the cheapest way to drive across the country, it can be more affordable than driving a car and staying in hotels every night. Even mid-grade hotel rooms in American suburbs can fetch over $100 per night, especially during the high summer travel season.

Plus, RV rentals are generally more affordable when you’re keeping the vehicle for a longer period of time — such as an entire month, or even the summer. Your per-day rental cost might be slashed by as much as 50% or more, especially if you rent off the peer to peer market here at RVshare.

And we have to say, as far as comfort and convenience on your coast-to-coast road trip vacation… well, you just can’t do much better than a motorhome. You don’t have to worry about packing and unpacking, picking up bed bugs at a shoddy hotel room, or having your tent flood during a summer storm. It’s pretty much the way to go!

Coast to Coast Road Trip Planner

Ready to get this show on the road — literally? Here are our best tips for your epic road trip across the USA.

1. Have a plan.

Footloose and fancy free might sound like the way to go when it comes to a road trip. But if you don’t do a little bit of research ahead of time, you could miss out on something at your destination — or end up camping overnight in a Walmart parking lot when you discover the sites at the Grand Canyon have been filled up for months.

Get a general idea of the cities you’ll stop in as you make coast-to-coast progress, and give each one a quick Google to see what there is to see. Pick some attractions and activities that you absolutely don’t want to miss, but be sure to give yourself plenty of free time to explore, too. You might also call up and reserve a campsite ahead of time, depending on how much flexibility you’re willing to give up; along with keeping you from camping at a truck stop, it can help you save money, especially if you want to get the most out of your Passport America membership. (Don’t have one yet? You really should — you’ll save 50% on your campsite fees at every single one of the almost 1900 participating campgrounds across the country. At less than $50 per year, that’s a great savings for just a weekend trip, let alone a whole summer!)

Don’t worry, doing footwork doesn’t mean you won’t be totally footloose. Once you get out west, it’s relatively easy to pull off and find campable BLM land — and boondocking out in the middle of nowhere is one of the most rewarding things you can do as an RVer.

2. Think of the kids.

Bringing the kids along for this epic adventure?

Good on you, mom and dad. Travel is one of the best educations your children can get outside of the classroom.

But even in the most beautiful roadways and treasured landscapes in America, younger campers can get bored from time to time. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep some entertaining backup activities on your RV, like board games, books, and a few favorite movies.

You can also help get your kids more engaged with your travels by encouraging them to participate. Allow them to help pick a destination or two along the way, or purchase a map that allows them to easily help track your travels. Hitting a few National Parks this summer? Don’t forget to pick up a passport, which will help your kids realize exactly how much they’ve seen and learned in such a short period of time. Plus, it makes a great keepsake later on!

Best Cross Country Road Trip Routes

You’ve got a long way to go, and — hopefully — not a short time to get there. So which way should you head to maximize your cross-country pleasure?

3. Take the scenic route.

When you’re taking a cross-country road trip, the journey itself is the destination — literally. If you’ve got a whole summer at your disposal, you’ll have plenty of time to hit every stop along your route, so go ahead and take the back roads.

You might also choose to use a famous or historical roadway, such as the southwest’s Route 66 or California’s stunning Pacific Coast Highway. (Psst: Looking for even more delightful drives? Check out this guide to 120 of the most beautiful American road trips by Reader’s Digest, or simply crack open your updated Rand McNally Road Atlas.) Although, honestly, with a country this big and beautiful, it’s hard to find a bad way to get through it!

What to Do on a Road Trip

Whether it’s hiking and mountain biking or simply sitting back and roasting up some s’mores around the campfire, your coast to coast road trip across America is sure to go down as a cherished family memory. There’s just nothing like dipping your toes in the Atlantic on the east and then the Pacific on the west, and knowing exactly how long, winding, and wonderful all the space in between can be.

Enjoy the ride!

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