5 things you learn when you road trip across United States of America (Mmmmmericaaaaaaaa)

And how they will help you plan any other trip effectively.

In the days leading up to my road trip across United States of America, I only generally read up on the ‘Things To Do’ on Google. And while that is a good practice to follow before any trip, a road trip might turn out to be a little different for various reasons (and a road trip across America no less).

Why? Because you are a grown up now and no one is flying or driving you from point A to point B. It’s you and your wisdom (and your fellow travelers’, of course).

So, here is a five point check-list to ensure that you have the best armor while setting-off on your dream road-trip across the United States of America:

1. Make a group (5 or 6 would be ideal) —

Teamwork is good for a reason at times

Yes, not only is it likely to be more fun because of more people, but will also allow you the freedom to switch drivers (ensure you have your IDP if you need one) for the long drives that come along the way, mix up the playlists, make food for your afternoon expeditions, share fixed expenses like accommodation, car rentals, fuel, etc., which is likely to make your trip more economical, and in general, keep things fresh for a two week long trip.

2. Know the fixed expenses beforehand — the thing about these trips is that you are likely to be on the road for about a week to two minimum. During that time, you will barely have the time to look at your books and figure the direction your expenses are moving. But if you know the ballpark for your fixed expenses well, you are highly unlikely to go wrong with your final expenses (unless you go shopping at every factory outlet you see along the way 😊) since the average meal expenses do not vary disproportionately across cities.

A ‘US’ dollar in pocket always saves the day

3. Always zoom out of Google Maps — USA is a huge country and it is likely you will find places with similar names in completely different parts. To avoid being stranded on the road with a half-full Gatorade in the middle of the night, always zoom out of your Google Maps to know the exact location of your AirBnB before setting -off. The National Park is huge (and there are many of them) and so are some of the other attractions and it is highly likely you won’t be able to cover them all. So, zoom out and fix your tent accordingly.

One more practicality before I move on — be flexible. However well read you might be about all the locations you want to visit during your trip, you are likely to be surprised by how much more there is to do when you get there. When we started, we never thought of doing Route 66 (yes, the most famous Route spanning three time zones) but we discovered it when we were about to move from Los Angeles to The Grand Canyon. And boy, did we love the drive!

On another occasion, in a more scenic setting of Yosemite, we did not know about the Valley View till one of the members saw an image on Google Maps and suggested we capture a similar one (we millennials!).

Whoever you are, be a little flexible

You get the point, right?

4. Keep a day (or half) for relaxation — Yes, you are in Mmmmericaaa and you want to live every moment of it, but human bodies do not get the extra m’s and a’s. If you are one of those driving, or hiking all day, ensure that your body gets enough time to relax and recover. Or else, you will start seeing everything through the same lens and lose the whole perspective of a road trip.

Sorry, no pictures for this one.

5. Mix up your stops — A perfect way to keep yourself refreshed (in addition to point 4) would be to choose your stops alternatively between national parks and cities. A nice stay in San Francisco followed by the scenic Yosemite followed by the charming Los Angeles followed by the unreal The Grand Canyon followed by Las Vegas (babbbiiieee) and capped off by New York (no, we didn’t drive the last leg) was what we chose. No, we were not smart enough while planning to realise how it would add to the whole experience, but then, when I look back, the alternation really did help to keep things light.

Having said all this, the true beauty of any travel lies in how it unfolds. I was lucky to have some great people around me to soak in all the beauty of this great country. There will still always be things that will surprise you. But isn’t that why we travel!

So, pack your bags (and food, and fuel, and Gatorade, and beef jerky) and jet, set, hit the road.

Interested in some other unusual experiences? Check out how to explore the Curonian Spit here.


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