How to Plan a Road Trip in the U.S.

3 minutes

In the U.S. for the summer? A road trip is a great way to see more of the country, and with the right planning, can be one of the most fun ways to travel! Whether it's a shorter weekend trip to somewhere nearby, or an extended, multi-state drive after your U.S. internship concludes, our guide will help you to plan your perfect road trip!

  • Plan where you want to go. This may seem obvious but many road trippers are attracted to the idea of just hitting the road and seeing where the wind takes them. Even if you want to keep it loose and adventurous, we recommend having a rough outline of where you will be on certain days and where you will be spending your nights. If you need some ideas, we've compiled a list of the Top 10 U.S. Scenic Drives that may provide you with some inspiration. Or you may also want to visit some of America's more "interesting" attractions while on the road.
  • Pack accordingly: Less is more. Having lots of stuff is cumbersome and can slow you down a lot. The less you have to keep track of while you move around, the less stress you're likely to have. You really don't want to be worrying about misplacing that 2nd sleeping bag that you brought as a back-up. Plan to pack light— you won't regret it!
  • Stay close to your things. This is a good idea whether you are stopped for 10 minutes at a rest area or spending the night at a motel or other location. When parked at a hotel, try to keep your vehicle within eye-sight of your room. Many hotels and motels at rest stops make it easy by having the rooms look onto the parking area. Secure garages offer some safety as well. It is also a good idea not to leave your belongings in the front or back seat where they can be easily seen—lock everything up in the trunk and bring anything else to your hotel room with you. This is especially important if you have a GPS or satellite radio system in the car.
  • Filling up the tank: Don't wait until you're on empty to fill up on gasoline. It can go pretty quick, especially when you're driving more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) per day. You don't want to drive around looking for the best gas prices. Remember, you're using gasoline to check out multiple gas stations so you may not actually be saving any money at all.
  • Settle any arguments quickly. Odds are, you will be traveling with a close friend. Disagreements can occur, even among very good friends. Which road do we take? How much do you want to spend on lunch? Where do we stop this afternoon? Don't let these minor disputes erupt into something bigger. An 8-hour drive can feel like an eternity when you're not getting along with someone. The same 8-hour drive can go by at the snap of a finger when you're having a great conversation or enjoying music with your friends. If you're in a good mood, the trip will be a fun, memorable experience. Bad moods cause the opposite of fun: Unfun.
  • Bring snacks. Some places you will travel are very remote and it may be a long time before you can find a place to eat. Snacks keep you from getting hungry and cranky on the road. You'll also eat less junk food if you aren't starving by the time you get to the rest areas.
  • Rest is important. Sitting in a car is surprisingly hard work. Get out and take a walk for a few minutes if you're feeling tired. Get plenty of sleep at night. Being tired on the road is dangerous and will likely result in a bad mood or increased tension or fighting with your travel buddies.
  • The most important rule: Have fun. It is as much about the experience as it is about getting somewhere. The idea is to enjoy the journey. Keep an open mind, stay safe and enjoy yourselves!
Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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