Tips for Planning Your Own Cross Country Trip!

In just a few short months, the trip I’ve been dreaming about since I graduated high school will finally be happening! I heard so many different pieces of advice from friends and family when I “officially announced” it via Facebook, that I started to become slightly overwhelmed with what I was doing and why I was doing it.

“Don’t plan it, just go!” “I know someone who’s a tour guide who can tell you what to do in all the different places!” “How long are you going to be away? Don’t you need to save like $3,000 to be able to do that?”

I figured some amount of planning was involved so I don’t end up broke, starving, sunburned and on the side of the road with no way home, but planning every stop was the LAST thing I wanted to do with this trip.

  1. Narrow it down…twice! Make a list of all the places you would want to go. Then map out a general road map. I used google maps just to be able to make changes quickly and experiment with different options. Then, narrow it down! I found that a lot of the places I REALLY wanted to go (mainly, the ones that housed people I wanted to meet up with) were in the southern half of the States. Of course, I want to go to as many places in the northern half as I can, but for now my focus was the South and West. Once I had that narrowed down, I thought of the kinds of activities I’d want to do while I’m out on my own. Those places made my top priority list, and I set up another list of places I’d like to see if time allowed.
  2. Really think about how much time you can take off vs. the costs of the trip. This was the most depressing part (if you can call it that) of the “planning” process for me. I have been saving up for 3 months now, and have FINALLY saved up enough to cover just the gas costs of the trip (calculated using mileage of the trip + 2,000 miles/400 miles per tank in my car).
  3. Write out your packing list, and don’t be afraid to start it too early. I can’t count how many times I left the house feeling like I forgot something, and actually forgot quite a few things, because I didn’t have an organized packing list. Not to mention, the sooner you start one, the more time you’ll have to add things that you think of last minute, or take off the things that you know for sure you won’t need. In the very wise words of Antoine de Saint Exupery, “He who would travel happily must travel light”.
  4. Plan out as many camping/cooking meals as possible before you leave. This not only helps save on stress, but saves sooo much money on the road! Especially for vegans and vegetarians, packing your own food allows you more freedom and acts as a safety net for when you get hungry where there may not be a lot of veg options available. I’ll be adding my list of cross country road trip meals and snacks soon!
  5. Going off of #4, get the HappyCow app! Seriously, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, this app has saved my appetite a few times already, and I’ve only had it for a week. I don’t get paid by anyone to put stuff on this blog, so I’m not trying to advertise for them, but it’s seriously the best app I’ve tried yet! It even lets you plan which restaurants/cafes you want to try on your trip!
  6. Don’t stress out trying to hit every single thing on your trip bucket list. You might end up missing a few things because of time, money, or just plain forgetting, but there will be other places that pop up to distract you and leave you in awe. Use them for the next trip (this goes back to #1)! 😉
  7. Enjoy the trip! I read a quote earlier today that reminded me to do this no matter what, and take full advantage of my time on the road…

“Be a happy camper. Travel and explore. Be excited about the open road ahead, but wander from it often. Don’t be afraid to get lost – you may find yourself. Arrive. Stay. Move on. Leave nothing behind. Share your dreams with passion to inspire others. Enjoy. Create. Love. Be free. Simplify your life if only for a short time. Enjoy style and function. Carry only what’s precious to you. Live. Love. Laugh. Share. Play. Smell the campfire. Respect nature. Love family, friends, and people you meet on the road. Forget the world. Pause. Switch off. Reflect. Stargaze. For a time, become truly happy.”

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