A little background about me: I moved to Massachusetts from California about a year ago, and I drove the whole way, stuff in tow. Plenty of people do this, so much so that fellow Uhauls and trailers were a common site, even in the rural nothingness of places like Wyoming, where cattle are more common than people. The cultural romanticism of hopping in the car and just driving across the 50 states perhaps led me astray from the extremity of what I was actually doing, I was a little unprepared for what followed. Here I will lay out a few tips for what worked best during this process, especially if you are traveling with other individuals who perhaps do not get along as much as you’d like.
1. GPS is a necessity. Hardcopy directions are practically useless, you can’t plan for accidents that may force you off the highway and into the Indiana wilderness. Don’t underestimate how difficult it may be to get back on the highway once off of it, for this reason never stray too far from it unless forced to do so. Most midwestern states have long toll roads, and because of this access to the highway is restricted to a few on-ramps miles apart. Trusting the GPS can only take you so far in these situations. On this note: make sure you have a reliable car charger for your electronic devices! You’ll use them more than you think.
2. When planning your nightly stays, cheaper isn’t always better. Sites like Priceline can exaggerate the amenities of hotels at times, so don’t count on anything. and when you are in the middle of nowhere, you may not be able to find another option at the last minute. If you don’t have much money, save as much as possible before leaving. If you absolutely don’t want to spend money on hotels, there is a network of people who volunteer their couches for travelers all across the country. A word of caution: after driving through every climate and sitting in a car for hours and hours on end, a nice shower and a comfy bed is almost a necessity for sane people. If you are admittedly insane, well then whatever you do, just enjoy it.
3. Embrace this simple truth: You will get mooned. Yes, I mean a drive-by mooning. Some car full of college boys will feel the need to bare their cheeks against the window. Then a race will ensue, where they will attempt to station themselves directly in front of you so they can moon you indefinitely while you try to pass them and put some distance between you. The best thing to depends on who else is in the car with you. If it’s your parents and you find yourself turning red with embarrassment, slow way down, even on the highway. If it’s just the friends, try a little expose of your own…
4. Last but not least, don’t drive the whole way without some sightseeing! What is the point of driving across the US without seeing something other than cornfields? The sights are what make it a road trip a vacation. Otherwise you’ll find yourself feeling like driving all day is a chore, rather than a way to get someplace exciting.
If you’re going across the country, don’t forget Niagara Falls!