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How to Plan a 30-Day Road Trip Through the United States?

Take the scenic route!
Take the scenic route! Image by The Points Guy

Setting out on a cross-country road trip is exhilarating and always full of promise for a great time. Planning your journey and keeping your trip organized is the way to go when it comes to a having a prosperous journey through the United States. There are so many options and ways of life to choose from- who says you have to stick to just one? Plan a cross-country road trip and experience a taste of all the regions that will welcome you with open arms. Start with the place you feel the most passionately about visiting and do your research on everything else America has to offer. The best road trips are the ones with the perfect balance of diversity and the opportunity to try new things. Every cross-country road trip is unique and based on your preference. It is the perfect vacation from your daily life because it is essentially combining number vacations into one great, big journey.

Who Is Coming?

A good amount of your planning will revolve around who will be joining you. We all have somebody who comes to mind when we think of who can liven up a car ride. Perhaps you wish to travel and see the United States by yourself. Whichever route you choose, remember to make it your goal to enjoy your time wisely and surround yourself with energy that will allow you to make the most of your time.

There are many positive benefits to traveling with loved ones. More than one passenger means more than one driver! You can bring a friend or family member and trade off driving shifts to more efficiently reach your destinations and see all there is to see. You will need to factor in the desires of every traveler and plan your stops accordingly. A traveling partner is also a built-in photographer! Snap awesome photos of each other near landmarks to solidify the experience. Bringing a great companion along can add a great deal of joy to your cross-country road trip and you will be sure to make unforgettable memories together.

Traveling alone can also be a life changing experience. Experiencing different cultures can be a journey of self-discovery- you may even find out more about yourself than you thought you knew. If you have the means to take on a road trip on your own, take advantage of the peace that comes with moving at your own speed and on your own time. You will surely come home enlightened and refreshed. Traveling by yourself is a good choice for someone who wants to meet new people and check some things off of your bucket list. An independent road trip can be just as enjoyable as one you take with friends.

Means of Transportation

Deciding your means of transportation is important when planning a month-long cross-country road trip. You will need to make sure that your vehicle can successfully withstand the mileage so you can enjoy a worry-free expedition. A car with little to no problems is the most ideal form of transportation when heading out cross-country. Make sure the vehicle you take is dependable so that you can avoid any issues along the way that may halt your travels. Your vehicle should be able to drive for the better part of a month without trouble. The last thing you want is to break down and delay your fun you have planned!

If you do not have access to a sturdy car of your own, there is always the option of renting one. Consider the places you will be traveling through when deciding on which type of car to rent. Are you planning to stay on highways and paved roads? A sedan would do the job just fine. You may do better with an all-terrain SUV to take on country roads and rocky hills in four-wheel drive. It will all depend on the type of cross-country road trip you will be taking, of course, but make sure your vehicle is dependable and complete with all the necessary amenities you might need.

Make a Road Trip Playlist

Your cross-country playlist should consist of all of your favorite, feel-good songs. You can get creative and make playlists that go with the theme of exactly where you are in the country. When traveling down South, play country music. If you go out to California, throw on some upbeat pop songs. Play dance music as you drive through Miami night life. Play classical music as you drive along with the sunrise. Just the same way you assign driving time, you can also assign who will be the DJ! Whoever is on their break from driver can adjust the music in the passenger seat. Take turns and make a fun activity out of it. Music sets the tone for any experience so your cross-country road trip should be no exception! Roll the windows down and jam out.

Time Management

How long you choose to spend in each destination city will determine how many stops you will be able to make within your cross-country road trip. Remember- this is your road trip! You have the liberty to choose where you would like to stay and for how long. For example, if you know there are more things you want to see and accomplish down in the South but have one special place you want to visit in Florida, plan to spend 5 days in the South and maybe one or two days in Florida. Set more or less days aside for each place in accordance with your agenda. Customizing your cross-country road trip makes it all the more exciting and planning ahead makes it so that all you have to do is GO!

Book Necessary Hotel Stays

You do not want to burn out half way through your cross-country road trip by forgetting to book your stays. Having a place to stay booked ahead of time allows you the chance to check in and check out on time so that you can stay on schedule with your daily itinerary. This secures your safety by providing a comfortable place to rest so that you are not driving on the road for prolonged periods of time. You can choose where to stay by determining whether you want to stay overnight in a city half way between destinations or if you want to actually spend the night in your destination cities. This will depend upon how long you want to stay in each place. Again, this can all be personalized to your preferences. You can stay in a hotel, an Airbnb, and bed and breakfast, etc. There is no wrong answer as long as you are safe and content.

A wide-open road and music make the best combination.
A wide-open road and music make the best combination. Image by Traveling Lifestyle

Choosing Your Destinations

If you do not know where to start, base your cross-country road trip on the setting, weather and events going on at the time of your trek. You can incorporate everything from the farm to night life. One of the best things about America is that there is something for everybody. Choose your something and set out on your way. If you want to include a little bit of everything- use the four main regions as a guide.

Do your research before deciding on destinations.
Do your research before deciding on destinations. Image by World Map

1. West Coast

Whether you want to dip your toes into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California or enjoy a day as a tourist of the rainy city, Seattle, the West Coast has a plethora of beautiful cities to explore. Drive through the prairie and desert grasslands of New Mexico and feel the raw Earth beneath your feet. Spend the day on the Santa Monica Pier and take in a scenic sunset. Spend a weekend In Las Vegas and experience the thrill of their world-famous casinos! The West Coast is great for adventurers who dare to take on interesting challenges while breathing in the fresh, ocean air.

2. East Coast

The East Coast is full of life and vibrancy. Every city along the Atlantic Ocean has its own personality. Take a bite out of the Big Apple and head to New York City. Spend a day in Central Park and have a picnic in the grass beneath awe-inspiring skyscrapers. Spend the night shopping and dining through Times Square. Take photos and make sure to grab a few keepsakes along the way. New York will quickly steal a piece of your heart. Stop down in Florida and experience the always lively Miami Beach or Key West. Enjoy a day by the beach and end it with a night out dancing. East Coast cities know how to have fun while also providing gorgeous beaches full of fun things to keep you busy through your entire stay.

3. The South

The South is full of beautiful towns waiting to be explored. Spend some time in New Orleans, Louisiana and take in a beautiful cultural experience near the timeless bayous. Have lunch in the French Quarter and taste gourmet food while watching entertaining street performers. Visit the Tree of Life or take a Swamp Tour on the quaint, still waters. Then head over to the biggest state of them all and experience how big they do it in Texas! Savannah, Georgia is also a lovely city packed full of things to do. Take a river walk or simply sit underneath the live oaks and bald cypress trees. The South is all soul and no stress which would make it a perfect part of your cross-country trip.

4. The Midwest

The Midwest is perhaps the most peaceful and scenic of all four regions. Montana offers rolling hills of farmland. There are beautiful ranches and hiking routes that you can walk while you listen to the sounds of the nature around you. Clear skies and fresh air make Montana an ideal stop on your cross-country trip. Mt. Rushmore in the state of South Dakota is also a must see for anybody who wants to experience true American history. The Midwest is the heart of the country and incorporating it into your cross-country road trip will give you the full American experience.

A drive with a coastal view.
A drive with a coastal view. Image by Thrillist

Planning Your Itinerary

Separate your day into morning, noon and night time. Discover what your destination has to offer and choose your activities accordingly. It is a good idea to write your plans down on paper so that you are able to squeeze in everything you want to do but remember not to get too caught up in maintaining perfect timing. If you come across something that piques your interest, do not hesitate to explore it. Remember, this is your cross-country road trip so the only rules are the ones you choose to make. Keep your goal of having a great time in mind when planning your itinerary. Choose activities that are in alignment with what you feel is best for you and be open minded to trying new things.

A cross-country road trip is an experience you will not soon forget. So be sure that you are taking in every sight you see and enjoying every place you visit to the fullest. Make plenty of great memories with whomever you choose to bring. You can even keep a journal to log all of your experiences that meant a lot to you. Collect keepsakes along the way and souvenirs to bring back home with you when your 30-day road trip is over. Whether you are embarking on a road trip because you need inspiration, going through a change, scoping out somewhere new to relocate or simple want to experience new places… a cross country road trip is the perfect answer. You will learn a lot along the way and you will never regret your exploration journey. You will come home with many stories to tell and pictures to show. Most importantly, after experiencing many ways of life and meeting tons of new people, you will have gained a fresh perspective that we are all connected. A cross-country road trip will change your life in the best way. So, start planning!


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