Most people dream of it, few accomplish it. The Road Trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific is on most people’s bucket list, but so many things seem to get in the way: lack of time, lack of money, responsibilities at home, the list goes on. But maybe the time is right for you to take the plunge.
Consider the Crew
The way you plan your trip will depend entirely on the company you will keep. The choice about whether to travel alone, with friends, or with children, will determine the level of planning you will undertake. Let’s assume that you are travelling with some old friends.
Pore over a map together and decide which are the highlights that you will definitely aim to see. That will entirely depend on your interests, and it may require more than one evening’s negotiation. Then connect them up. You can get software like RouteXL to do the work, or you can have fun looking at different options. Mark the places you expect to stay. Be realistic—you don’t want to spend more that 8 hours in the car on a typical day (and that assumes shared driving), and you will need days off.
Don’t Over Plan
Make sure that there is something memorable to mark the beginning and end of the trip. Dipping your toes into the ocean is essential. Have a big celebration planned to finish—if you are baseball fans have your Los Angeles Dodgers tickets all lined up so you can’t miss the big occasion.
Beyond that, the great thing about a road trip is to be open to the unexpected. Don’t research your locations too much, and allow time to follow quirky road signs to places you’ve never heard of. That way you can discover some real gems, and the main tourist sites can wait till you are older and richer.
What you pack will depend on your preferences and your travelling companions, but there are some things you really need to think about:
- An up-to-date road atlas. It’s more fun for planning your route together, and it will never refuse to work because it has no signal.
- A limited selection of music, stuff that everyone can listen to a hundred times. There will be no better way for the memories to come flooding back than when you hear one of your road tunes played in a bar.
- A diary, for the same reason. You can keep your record on your phone, but a paper version will be a friend for years to come.
- A cool box. You don’t have to use it if you find a diner you can’t miss, but it’s great to have the option to stop in the middle of nowhere to eat and drink.
Enjoy the Road
Your ocean to ocean road trip will be one of the defining experiences of your life. With sensible precautions, you can relax in the knowledge that you will come back with stories to share with your grandchildren, of things that will capture the spirit of America at this special moment in time.
Karl Coleman has a passion for travel and last year, ticked off one of his items from his To Do List; Road Trip Across The U.S.A. He shares his travel tips and experiences in his articles which appear on a variety of blogs.