5 Tips for Road Tripping in the USA

Published 30 March 2016

Jim Cheney

Jim Cheney

There may not be a more classic way to visit North America than on a road trip. However, preparing for road tripping in the USA requires much more planning than a simple trip to the store. It can be even worse if you’ve never been to North America. After all, the number of iconic sites spread throughout the continent can create havoc on any itinerary. So, if you’re planning on taking a road trip across North America, don’t leave home without reading these five helpful tips.

Grey car on road in front of river and mountains

Don’t Underestimate North America’s Size

North America is really, really big. In fact, Canada and the United States are two of the four largest countries in the world. Both are slightly smaller than the whole of Europe, so needless to say, the distances between cities isn’t small.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for you to drive 12 hours in a day just to reach your next destination. Just to give you an idea of how big North America is, here are the driving distances between several popular cities:

Washington, DC to Chicago, Illinois: 683 miles 

New York to Los Angeles, California: 2,796 miles 

Toronto, Canada, to Vancouver, Canada: 2,734 miles 

Atlanta, Georgia to Miami, Florida: 621 miles

Needless to say, you need to make sure that you plan your itinerary carefully. You can make it from Washington, DC to Chicago in a day, but it will be a very, very long day. Want to drive straight from New York to Los Angeles? Plan for a bare minimum of 4 to 5 days of driving.

Visit the National Parks

North American cities have a well-deserved reputation for being fantastic places to visit, but don’t forget about the continent’s worst kept secret: the National Parks.

Featuring some of the most beautiful and unspoilt scenery in the world, the National Parks of the US and Canada are simply amazing! Whether you like beaches, deserts, or mountains, there is a National Park to suit every interest.

Some of the most popular National Parks are the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, and the Everglades in America, as well as Banff in Canada.

Lake and mountains in Glacier National Park, USA


Don’t Overnight in the Cities

Like many places in the world, hotel rooms in cities costs significantly more than those in the suburbs or countryside. So, to save money on your trip, make sure to spend most of your nights in smaller towns.

Even in America, a country not known for its public transportation, you can usually find buses or trains that reach the suburbs and can provide an easy and economical way of getting into your city of choice quickly.

Get Off the Interstates

The Interstates, or main highways, in America are some of the finest in the world and provide a great way to get between destinations quickly. However, they are often rather boring.

So, whenever you have the chance, get off the main highways and find the smaller roads. Doing this will allow you to see more beautiful scenery and see some of the many small towns that make America great.

While there are many great roads to travel throughout the US, some of the most popular include Route 66 and Highway 1 in the west, or cross-country routes like Route 6 or Highway 50.

driving along tree lined road towards mountain, usa

Leave the Driving to Someone Else

If you don’t like driving, can’t drive, or just don’t want to drive, why not leave the driving to someone else? While it might not be a road trip in the traditional sense, trains and buses between North American cities can be an economical and fun way to get between your destinations, especially if you are mainly interested in cities.

So, don’t worry if a road trip across North America sounds daunting, sit back and relax on the way to your next destination.

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