Travel Wise: Making Preparations for Your First Cross-Country Road Trip

The United States is situated on one of the most beautiful continents on the planet. With mountains in Alaska that reach nearly as high as Mt. Everest to the sparkling shores of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, North America has a bit of everything to offer any traveler.

While traveling, most people want to get to their destination as quickly as possible. But this actually misses the point of travel itself. Traveling is a journey, and as such, experiencing life along the way is part of the process.

On a road trip, you can experience the journey first-hand. This is where you’ll be able to watch as the landscape changes. You’ll be able to see different people, cultures, and lifestyles and earn an appreciation for what you’ve experienced.

Here, we’ll discuss what you need to know to have a safe and successful cross-country road trip.

Vehicle Prep

If you’re going on a road trip, you’ll need to have a vehicle in good running condition. This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many people hit the road without checking out their vehicle for any underlying issues.

Before you get any repair work done, you’ll also want to check your auto insurance policy to ensure that you have roadside assistance coverage of some sort. If not, shop around or compare auto insurance rates and choose a better plan. The last thing you’ll want is to get stranded with no one to help and no assistance to call.

Once you’ve got any major repairs and your insurance handled, you’ll want to do one last check before you load up for your adventure. The following checklist covers the basics:

  • Oil and filter
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Tire inflation
  • Tire tread
  • Turn signals, brake lights, and headlights

Go through each of the aforementioned and ensure that all fluids are at proper levels and that all lights and functions of your vehicle are in good working order.

Planning Your Route

Now comes the fun part. Where are you going to visit? What would you like to experience?

These are just a couple of questions that you should be thinking about prior to planning out your route. Once you’ve narrowed your destination down to the best choice, you’ll want to map out your route.

Nowadays, most Americans have access to a GPS device of some sort. Whether this is on your phone or vehicle matters little. The only problem is, with GPS devices, you won’t get to plan a route. Instead, a route is usually generated based on the quickest way from point A to point B.

While this is great for time management, it’s not the best for planning a fun experience.

If you want to really test your sense of adventure, map out your own route using a road atlas. When using an atlas, you can also see points of interest along the way and plan your stops accordingly.

Remember, you also want the journey to be organic, so don’t plan too far ahead and leave a little room for spontaneity. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to change course halfway through.

Safety Along the Way

Whether you’re going to stay at a vacation rental property or at a plush resort, as always, use good judgment and common sense while traveling far from home. You might be in your native homeland, but even traveling a few hours from home can bring you to a place that seems like a foreign country.

A few rules of thumb to follow when traveling cross-country are to never pick up hitchhikers and always call ahead to the authorities before stopping to help a stranded motorist. In addition, always tell friends or family where you’re going and how long you plan to be gone. You should also give them your itinerary and planned route just in case issues arise.

In addition, make sure you bring adequate clothing and supplies for the region you’re traveling to. And, keep your valuables secure and try to pack in a manner that offers you convenient access to your most important belongings, such as medications.

The open road is mesmerizing for some, and it offers a chance to see the country without the worry of costly air travel or crowded bus travel. You’ll see wonderful sights and meet interesting people even before you get to your destination, and this is all part of the journey.