As I’m sure you saw via Instagram, my husband and I recently road tripped 4,250 miles from our old apartment in Brooklyn to our new home in Northern California. Neither of us had ever driven across the country before, so we did a bunch of research and planning in order to make the most of it. We had a friggin BLAST, and I highly recommend driving across our beautiful country at least once in your life. Here are my simple tips for how to make sure your road trip is a great success.
- Figure out how much time you have for the trip. I recommend 2 weeks at a minimum, if you can swing it with your work schedule and vacation time. The perfect time for a cross country road trip is a cross country move (duh), but even if you’re not moving, you can still have a killer road trip. You’ll just have to either drive in a loop, or fly one way.
- Buddy up. I don’t recommend doing this drive alone. Couple up with a friend or go with your significant other. It easier to split up driving time and I think it’s safer to have a buddy. Plus, building memories with a friend or lover is half the fun!
- Sort out a vehicle. If you have a car, great! Skip this step. If not, research a rental car situation that will let you pick up the car on one side of the country, and drop it off on the other.
- Plan your route. This is where the fun starts. We planned our route by picking out cities that we had never been to and then connecting the dots along the way. Our big stops were Nashville, Moab, The Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. And then we tacked on Shenendoah, Knoxville, Denver, and Vegas in between. I recommend spending at least 2 nights in each place that you’re interested in. This way you at least get 1 full day at that destination (and a break from driving).
- Reserve your accommodations. There will be certain sections of your trip that you will have to plan out in advance. Airbnbs, nicer hotels, and some campsites require a reservation. But if you don’t mind staying at rinky-dink motels (which don’t require advance reservations) so you can play part of your trip by ear, you can have more flexibility for adventure and spontaneity. We found a few great places to stay via Airbnb and some really dope campsites via Hipcamp (remember our cave?)
- Pack. This is also the fun part. Other than the obvious things like clothing and camping gear (if you’re into camping), there are lots of other practical things you should pack. Layer-able clothes are best since you’ll likely be experiencing lots of different temps along the drive. Comfortable shoes for a spontaneous hike. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer for bathroom breaks (not all gas station toilets are created equal). The shining stars of our packing list were our headlamps (hands-free light while camping is so clutch) and our Yeti cooler. Having cold La Croix, chilled grapes, and other healthy snackables on the road was a welcome treat after days of takeout and highway food.
- Prepare for boredom. Download your podcasts and audio books in advance (you won’t have cell service in the boonies). A few podcasts that we devoured on our trip: My Favorite Murder, Dirty John, Criminal (can you tell we were on a true crime kick?), The Story, 99% Invisible, The Indicator, and The Moth.
- Get help from these free apps. Hotel Tonight or Hotels.com for last minute hotel deals, Roadtrippers for the best sights and excursions along your route, and Google Maps for directions and saving places of interest.
Lucky for me, the Chacos x Topo collab collection dropped a few weeks before our trip. I scooped up a few things that I knew would come in handy on our adventure. I’ve been a fan of both of these companies for years, so when I finally saw the collaboration, I just about died. I snagged the Mega Z Cloud sandals, the Rover Backpack, and the Nylon Camp Hat.
You know how I feel about adventure sandals (remember my Tevas in the BVIs?), and this Chacos pair checks off all the boxes: comfortable, sturdy, supportive, and of course, they look fashionable not dorky. The older I get, the more time and patience I don’t have for stuff that isn’t fashionable AND functional. If for some crazy reason you’re not into this Topo collab, Chacos also has a program called My Chacos where you can design and customize your own pair: straps, buckles, stitching, the works.
The Rover Backpack has padded straps which are super comfortable on my shoulders, a padded inner sleeve for my laptop (because let’s be honest, I’ll be toting this to work more often than I’ll be hiking up mountains), two water bottle holders, and two outer zip pockets (one in the top flap which I’ve never seen before). I love that the pack is large enough to fit a bunch of stuff, but not so big that it gets too heavy or overwhelms my frame.
This collection is in limited edition, so don’t sleep on it!
Sandals: Topo x Chaco Mega Z Cloud | Backpack: Topo x Chaco Rover Backpack | Hat: Topo x Chaco Nylon Camp Hat | Tee: vintage | Denim: Reformation | Bandana: vintage | Earrings: Awoke Vintage | Sunnies: RayBan