I know I’ve preluded to this trip before, but now I’ll try to sum it up as best I can. I treasure this trip so much and know that I won’t be able to do it justice, but here goes nothing!
In December of 2012, as I was studying for finals, this lovely man of mine decided he wanted to do something spontaneous and asked me what my thoughts were on driving across the country. It all started as an innocent conversation about what we usually do for New Years Eve and then what some bucket list items of ours were. Being in New York to watch the ball drop was always on my bucket list, and right in that moment, as I said it out loud-the trip of a lifetime was born!
We mapped out the route we wanted to take, stops we wanted to make along the way, checked the weather along the route, and calculated all the expected costs associated for hotels/gas/etc. Side note- we ended up spending wayyy more than was expected, but it was a once in a lifetime thing you know? And most of the extra money was spent on touristy things/souvenirs, not so much the necessities like gas and a place to sleep.
In this preliminary post, I’m just going to give some tips and a very general outline of how we made this happen. Then daily, I’ll break down day by day what we did/where we were.
DRIVING CROSS COUNTRY TIPS
- Can I say own a Prius? I have a Prius, that I absolutely LOVE, and that made gas costs much more affordable along the way.
- If you’re driving your own vehicle, I suggest taking it in to get the oil changed, tires aligned, etc. We took it in for a general check up and made sure it was safe and ready for a cross country trip.
- Check the weather! Along our route, snow was expected in some states, so we got chains just in case but luckily didn’t have to use them 🙂
- Pack the car with a first aid kit, batteries, and lots of flashlights.
- Have a car charger! For most of the driving, we didn’t use GPS and used physical maps, but having your phone charged is a necessity for long drives and calling hotels late at night.
- VISIT YOUR LOCAL AAA OFFICE- I cannot stress this enough! We went in on multiple occasions to ask for advice, maps, booklets, etc. And they were so helpful! They will even map out your route for you and give you a print out specifically desinged for your trip; we have ours to this day.
- Snacks, snacks, snacks! We had a cooler packed in the back seat full of snacks and drinks for the road. This limits the amount of stops you have to make and you can focus on getting to destinations at a reasonable time and only spending money on bigger meals like dinner, since breakfasts are usually served at the hotel before you hit the road.
- Comfy clothes- alot of the time we didn’t have a cookie-cutter plan and kinda just “went with it,” if we saw something off the side of the road, we’d just pull over and do it. For that reason, and for the reason of being in a car potentially 8-11 hours a day, alot of what we packed were comfy clothes, sweats, leggings, sweaters, etc. And with our trip taking place during the winter it was easy to layer with scarves, beanies, etc to make the same outfit look different or more dressed up.
- ENJOY WHO YOU ARE WITH. Beforehand so many family members said the trip was going to be awful, drawn out, and we’d be over it by the third day. This could not have been further from the truth. The whole trip was a dream. We would do the entire trip over and over if we could. We had that much fun. I think in part because we really enjoy each others company so being in a car for long periods of time didn’t seem like “torture” as some of my family members would say.
I’m sure there’s tons more advice but that’s about all I can think about right now!
Below is the route we took to get to New York, from California and a list of attractions/stops we made along the way, all of which will be detailed in future posts.
- Grand Canyon, AZ
- Bearizona, AZ
- Albuquerque, NM (overnight stop #1)
- Cadillac Ranch, TX
- Christmas Tree Place, OK
- Oklahoma City, OK (overnight stop #2)
- Nashville, TN
- Country Music Hall of Fame, TN
- Nashville, TN (overnight stop #3)
- Columbus, IN (overnight stop #4)
- Coleman’s Fish Market, West Virginia
- Newark, NJ (overnight stop #5)
- New York City, NY
We spent 4 days in New York City that I cannot wait to talk about in detail! So stay tuned for that 🙂
Now, here is the route we took on our way back from New York, and some stops along the way.
- Niagra Falls, NY
- Indianapolis, ID (overnight stay #1)
- St. Louis, MO (overnight stay #2)
- Gateway Arch, MO
- Dodge City, KS (overnight stay #3)
- Boot Hill, KS
- Canyon, somewhere in CO
- Colorado (overnight stay #4)
- Four Corners Monument, CO-NM-UT-AZ
- Los Angeles, CA
Overall the trip took us 2 weeks and I cannot tell you how much of a bummer it was to get home! We became so antsy and wanted to get out and go again. But you know, that thing called school came back around, as did college soccer.
I hope you’re looking forward to a more in-depth look at the trip going forward!