Whenever I open up Google Maps, I get excited because I know that I have a whole world to explore. This year I did my first solo road trip across the country from Northern California all the way to my hometown in Pennsylvania. Hitting the open road and discovering new places gave me a deep sense of pride and appreciation for America. From finding a beautiful campground that takes your breath away, to trying amazing food from a mom-and-pop shop in a small town, to making connections with people we meet along the way. There is always something grand about exploring the open road.
I believe that everyone at least once in their lives should go out of their town and city and see something new. Whether it’s across your state or across the entire country, it’s worthwhile to do it.
In this article, I wanted to share how I prepare for any type of road trip, whether it’s grand or small, there are a few essentials that will help you enjoy your road trip experience
Timing is Everything
Knowing your timeframe and how flexible you can be can make or break your road trip experience. I try not to put too much on my plate and be realistic about how much time I have. I ask myself, “What places do I really want to spend most of my time and how long will it take me to get there?”
While it would be nice to see it all, if I’m at a place I really enjoy, I’d rather spend more time there and soak it all in. This also helps me narrow down a good road map of where I want to go.
I like to travel and spend at least 3 days or more at a spot. It’s important to take the first day to rest after driving. And the rest of my days I can relax and prepare for my next move. I try to remember, this isn’t a rush, and taking my time will create better memories I can cherish for a lifetime.
One of the most important keys to keeping safe on the road is knowing how long I’m willing to drive per day. For me, driving 4-6 hours max is my drive time limit, and I try not to go over this. Knowing how long you are willing to drive can also help you map out how much time it will take to get to your destinations. A rule I have is only driving during daylight hours and getting to my destination before sunset. That way I have a good layout of the area, and I’m not driving in the dark.
Planning Your Route
Once I have an idea of how long I have to travel and the places & people I want to see along the way, it’s time to start making my travel route. My main map planner is Google Maps, but I also use TruckMap to show me routes that my RV size can fit in, especially when traveling the East Coast.
Once I have my route mapped out, I save an offline map on Google Maps, that way I can use it even if I don’t have cell phone service. And with my route planned out, I can now add in spots in between destinations I want to visit or pick rest stops.
Follow the Weather
Weather is a major factor to keep in mind while traveling. Weather patterns can change in an instant, so knowing what’s going on around you is key. Having weather apps will keep you safe on the road. Having good apps like Highway Weather shows you the weather along your route. Another Great app is MyRadar. MyRadar shows you weather patterns in real-time.
Music & Podcasts That Feed the Soul
Now into the fun part! Before you leave on your epic road trip, it’s always good to prepare a good playlist of music and podcasts you can listen to during long drives. It can turn a long stretch of neverending highway into a jam session you might remember for a long time. (Trust me, I have!)
I personally love listening to audiobooks and decided to subscribe to Youtube Premium so I could listen to audiobooks offline. Surprisingly, you can find a lot of great audiobooks on Youtube. One I would recommend adding to your audiobook list is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, it’s the perfect adventure audiobook for all ages!
Don’t forget to ask your friends and loved ones if they have any playlists, music, or audiobooks that they could recommend to you!
Rest Stops & Hidden Gems
When I have long stretches of road to cover, I try to fill my route with rest stops to stay for one night before getting to the main spot. This way I break up my driving and have something fun to do.
Once I have my Google Map Route planned out, I go over to my favorite rest stop apps, Like RV Dump Sites, Gas Buddy, and Free Roam to find places to dump and see cheap gas options along my route. I also use Google Maps to show me grocery stores and local mom-and-pop restaurants in the area.
Using the app Harvest Hosts has been the highlight of my cross-country road trip. Harvest Host is one of the best ways to find amazing destinations and make new friends. Harvest Hosts is an app where you can stay at museums, farms, restaurants, wineries, and breweries all across the country. I have so many great Harvest Hosts locations that I can’t wait to revisit. (Use code RVSHARE for 15% off your Harvest Hosts membership!)
Read more of my tips here on finding hidden gems and camping off the beaten path!
I hope these tips can be helpful as you plan your cross-country road trip! I’ve discovered the more prep work I do beforehand, the more enjoyable and carefree the rest of my trip is! Happy planning fellow travelers!
About the author: Vanna Mae is a visual artist and influencer, traveling around the country in her 19ft Class C RV with her cat Indigo. Keep up with their adventures on Instagram @vannamaeart and on YouTube.