For some people this is a lifelong dream. They plan the perfect route with landmarks and select the best time of the year to get the most out of each location. Some invest regular weekly time into prepping a playlist. They continue collecting a road trip playlist for years, picking the best songs.
Often it starts as a weekend off-the-beaten-path single, but then it becomes so long that it deserves more than that. If driving across the United States has been your dream, make sure you prepare well.
1.Why should you hit the road?
Hundreds of miles, into the depths of the American wilderness, cities and culture – some things you can only experience if you dive into them completely.
To sew up a patchwork of identities?
If you travel across the country, you might as well be shocked by the differences you’ll notice from one region to the other. The Northwest is well-known for its hip and upbeat lifestyle full of technological visionaries and coffee-sipping entrepreneurs. If you go just a little south, you are already in a world of sombreros and quesadillas.
A couple of hundred miles to the east and you will end up in a world of country music where the love for God and each other is stronger than the smell of fried chicken. It’s the food tastes, the music vibes … and even the cars people drive. After all, we all know that “you are what you drive”.
In metropolitan areas, you will see hundreds of smaller vehicles. They make it nice and easy to transit from one place to the other in a short time. They are compact and convenient for the the big cities, where all tech people are concentrated. There you can already find plenty of bikes, too. If you look south though, you will see pick-up trucks and cabriolets. Something for the rural fans and farmers, and something for the chick summer visitors.
To put together a puzzle of beauty?
And just like every pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, no state is alike. If you want to gaze at the sky, you could be staring at skyscrapers in New York City, or you could be lying on the hood of a car somewhere amid the Wyoming fields.
One minute you could be in the greenest state in the country, enjoying mountains, forests, and creeks. The next – you could be looking for shade for miles in the deserts of Nevada.
Two states that fit together like puzzle pieces on the map, yet so different in nature. Two adjacent states and still hundreds of miles away. Yet, they still share equally beautiful sights. Like The Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, and the Painted Hills – best visits for climbing lovers.
Nevada and Oregon. The moment you cross the border you are in another world. And they are not the only ones. All states are unique in their beauty and yet – they feel like a whole. Where else in the world have you seen that?
Receiving an overdose of emotions?
As inspiring as it may sound, driving across the country can be quite overwhelming. Whether you want to stride across the country in your Land Cruiser or run through as quickly as possible, it will still take quite some time.
The USA takes as much land area as all of Europe. It’s enormous. You could be driving for hundreds of miles before you leave one state and enter the next one. If you are the adventurous type, you might try taking the longest road across a state without getting on a highway.
In some states, like California or Texas, this could become a 900-mile drive! Who would want to do that? Well, ok. Exaggerating here. But if you go for it, you must get the whole experience, not just the driving. If you do decide to drive across Texas, stop at some local park and make sure you try the food trucks in Austin! Don’t get too excited about it yet! There are things you have to consider before hitting the road.
Be aware of the weather when driving across the country
As cliché as it may sound, we would still label it as the task with the biggest priority. Before you hit the road, you should be aware of the expected weather conditions throughout the whole route. There are times in the year when the weather can change drastically within a hundred miles. This could force you to change your planned route, which can be stressful. And it can ruin your experience. The truth is you can’t compete with Mother Nature, but you can prepare as much as possible.
How to plan your route?
Here we don’t only mean the route with the best sights and landmarks. As we previously said, the country holds a different type of beauty in every single state so we can’t really complain. But the best route is also the one that is easy on the driver. Do not opt for too many curvy roads or highways in the deserts. It gets tiring. It gets boring. Do not opt for roads through big cities either. God forbid you end up in a traffic jam early in the morning when everyone is going to work. There are no underground tunnels to save us yet, so plan on avoiding such locations with intense traffic.
How to select your playlist?
A road trip across the country is not like any other driving trip you have done. It needs preparation both on the rational and emotional level! That’s why you need to load up a playlist with the essential road trip songs! You can arrange them in a way that matches the timing of each state you go through.
- Phantom Planet – California
- Modest Mouse – Ohio
- Tom Waits – Jersey Girl
- Ray Charles – Georgia on my mind
Just watch out if you go through Alabama and you get on the U.S. Highway 431. Make sure you play Sweet Home Alabama and not AC/DC and their Highway to Hell… We hear it’s from the tough ones…
2. Why should you avoid driving across the country?
Short trips are one type of a race, but cross country is a completely different marathon level. There are people who can drive from the East to the West coast in less than 40 hours. Some break records and manage to do it in less than 30. But what is the rush for?
Driving across the country can be time-consuming and tiring, and also quite dangerous. Staying behind the wheel for long gets both your body and your mind too tired. At some point the exhaustion is so heavy you may stop seeing any of the beauty around. Keep this in mind when preparing and deciding your route. The time you want to spend driving and the time to spend just enjoying places will matter a lot.
What are some of the worst states to drive across the US?
You know that good music comes from the soul, right? It speaks of truthful events in beautiful phrases, of real feelings under melodic sounds… Yes. Well, Kansas (the band) has made some good music that has nothing to do with Kansas, the state.
Yet, when we talk about Kansas, the state, we can definitely refer to Kansas, the band’s, best-known song: Dust in the wind. And to translate the attempt for a metaphor here, we’ll put it in a short, straightforward form: Kansas. All there is is dust in the wind.
Right north of Kansas, the landscape cannot be much different, could it? People that have driven across Nebraska before have become ambassadors of driving across all other states BUT Nebraska. They even recommend going through South Dakota instead. (Which trust me is not much better.) The best thing about Nebraska is probably nothing but the Oscar-nominated film that was named after the state. And even in it, you can see landscapes of vast empty fields with not much more than a bush popping out once every hundred miles. Sigh. We hope soon there will be a way to avoid these roads. Especially for truck drivers. If driving fatigue truly is a top issue for truck drivers, then Nebraska should be a forbidden state for them. They may fall asleep behind the wheel before seeing a living creature.
Not because it’s as boring as the states previously mentioned, but because it has one of the most dangerous roads in the country. The I-10 goes across the whole country, yet Arizona holds the strip with the highest number of victims. The 150-mile stretch from Phoenix to the California border sees more than 80 deaths per year. The entire state death toll in Arizona is only about 700 for all roads in an average year.
Surprisingly or not, Connecticut has been named one of the states with the worst road conditions in several classifications in the past year. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers and the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card they published, Connecticut has 21,512 miles of public roads. More than half of them (57%) are currently in poor condition. For comparison, California also scores a similar percentage of bad roads. Yet, the overall network of public roads in the state is nearly ten times longer than that of Connecticut. So if you start your journey from East to West, make sure you don’t plan your starting point in Connecticut. Or for that matter from any state that has poor infrastructure. Your car might break down before you even left the first state of your trip.
Yes, it can be fun, we have said that before. Rodeos under the heat, bull riding, and country music. All are fun. Just not as much when you are driving from one end of the country to the other, and you go through Texas. Crossing this state will feel like FOREVER. If you are traveling from California to Georgia, it will take you half of the 3-day trip just to cross Texas. Not even kidding.
3. Don’t Want to Cross the U.S. but need to?
Why would you want to spend that much time on the road anyway? Doesn’t such a long trip use up its beauty at some point? We’d recommend going for shorter trips instead of going across the country at once. This will let you stay energetic and focused on what’s important – the culture and the landscape. Not the mile count, not the road conditions.
If you go on such a long trip, not for fun but because you need to, there are other ways to get from one side to the other. Without wasting time and breaking nerves. Whether you are relocating, for instance, from Massachusetts to Florida, and have to move to your new home, or you are a snowbird and want to go to your seasonal destination. You can book an auto transport service to complement your move.
Why ship your car instead of driving it?
If you are one of the people that get goosebumps when they hear about driving across the country, then we might be able to help. You can ship your car across the country instead. If you enjoy short trips but need to get your car from a thousand miles away, we can transport it to your final destination.
Hiring an auto transport company can save you time and money. If you are not doing the trip across the country for fun, then why should you waste all these hours on the road? A transporter can deliver your car the same or the next day, depending on the distance and some other factors. You will need to follow a few steps to prepare your car for cross-country shipping.
If you prefer to do a bit of reading before speaking with us, we’d love you to visit our Questions page or our “How it works” section. Learn all about auto transport and then request your quote and call to discuss your options. We are here to make it easier for you in case you do not wish to drive across the country. Thank you!