Preparing for a Cross-Country Road Trip


This summer my boyfriend and I will be driving from Los Angeles, CA to Northern VA over the course of one week. We are very excited to embark on this road trip of a lifetime, but there are definitely some preparations that need to be made. I probably will have learned a lot more after I finish this trip across the country, but I wanted to share how we are preparing for it and see if any of you road trippers have advice for us! Here is what I’ve learned so far:

Find a great planning app.

I came across an incredible travel app called Roadtrippers. It’s both a website and an app and it’s how we decided what we would see along the way. It asks you to put in your origin city and the destination where you’re headed and they do the rest. They show you how much gas money you’ll need, different routes you can take, attractions along the way, hotels and restaurants near your stops, etc. It showed me attractions that I wouldn’t have initially known were on our route such as the Petrified National Forest and Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM! Roadtrippers is a one-stop shop for organizing a road trip big or small, and I am so glad I found it–I have no idea how I would’ve organized myself otherwise.

Prepare the car.

This has been my boyfriend’s job since 1) we’re taking his car and 2) he’s better with cars than I am. He made sure to get new tires, alignments, oil change, etc. to make sure our trip goes as smooth as possible.  I think making sure your car is in tip-top shape should be priority #1 for any road trip, but I wanted to put Roadtrippers first because it’s more fun. 🙂

Determine where you will be staying overnight.

I am all for spontaneity and I hope to have a lot of spontaneous stops and side trips along the way. However, we will be driving through some pretty remote areas during parts of the trip so I want to be sure we know exactly where we will be spending the night in advance. We decided to book through Airbnb for the entire trip. We found some great deals on beautiful houses/apartments along the way. It will be a fun and unique experience to not only stay in a nice home for cheap, but also to get to know the locals.

Airbnb hosts have great insight in what to do and see around their area, so we look forward to hearing what they have to say! Our host in Flagstaff has already sent us an insider’s guide for how to see the best parts of the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas (while avoiding the crowds). If you’ve never used Airbnb before I highly recommend you try it out!

Bring plenty of water, snacks and music.

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing else I need to say about that!

For those of you who might be curious where we will be stopping along our trip, here is our itinerary:

  • Day 1: Grand Canyon & Flagstaff, AZ
  • Day 2: Blue Hole in Santa Rosa & Santa Fe, NM
  • Day 3: Dallas, TX
  • Day 4: Nashville, TN
  • Day 5: Arrive in VA!

I look forward to revisiting this post after my trip to see how much more I’ve learned about traveling cross-country.

(Edit: Click here to read about this trip!)

crosscountry8But now it’s your turn! What am I forgetting? Any fellow travelers driven across the country? Please share your experiences below!

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Erin founded the Wonderlost Travel blog in February of 2015 after her experience of studying abroad in Europe. Erin has had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of South America and Asia. She enjoys writing about and photographing her travel experiences in order to inspire others to get out and follow their travel dreams. She has collaborated with tourism departments, restaurants, and other travel bloggers to share reviews and travel advice with readers in over 100 countries. Erin has a passion for traveling the world to experience other cultures and explore nature!

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