11 Tips to Prepare for a Cross-Country Road Trip

Today’s guest post is from Jason Butler from The Butler Journal!  Make sure you check out his bio at the end of the post. 

Have you ever thought about taking a cross-country road trip? It’s something that everyone should do at least once! Taking a cross-country road trip had been on my bucket list since 2008. In 2013, I was finally able to make it happen.

Seeing the country from coast to coast was one of the most exciting things that I’ve done in life. I had a chance to drive over 2000 miles and stop in Jacksonville, FL, Biloxi, MS, Houston, TX, San Antonio, TX, El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, and Los Angeles, CA. That in itself was amazing! It’s easier to plan and accomplish than people think. I want to share with you several things that you need to do before going on a cross-country road trip.

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Decide your destination(s)

The first thing that you should consider is where you want to go. There are several routes that you can choose from such as I-90, I-70, Route 66 (technically not coast to coast) and Interstate 10. When I drove cross country a few years ago, I took the trip via the Interstate 10 route. I live in Atlanta so getting to I-10 only took me 5 hours.


Determine trip length

How long do you want to be on the road? That is a critical question that you must ask yourself. In my opinion, a month would be an ideal time to complete a cross-country trip. A lot of people don’t have that kind of time, though. I took two weeks to make my cross-country road trip. I would have definitely needed more time if I had driven back instead of flying.


Solo or joint 

This is a biggie right here. You have to decide if you’re going on this trip solo or with somebody. There are pros and cons to doing both. I traveled with my ex.  I would suggest that you have at least one other person with you for the trip. It can get boring on some of those lonely highways.


Decide when to go

The next tip is to decide what season you want to go.  It would be kind of tough to take one of the northern routes during the winter because of the weather. Make sure you plan your trip during a time where there is typically good weather.


Create a budget

Creating a budget is vital. You want to make sure that you have enough money to last during your whole trip. My ex and I both saved $2500 per piece. That was more than enough. We only spent about $2400 on everything including the rental, hotels, gas, food, souvenirs and the flights back home.


Decide on transportation

The next thing that you need to do is to decide how you exactly want to travel. Do you want to drive your car roundtrip or do you want to get a rental? I booked a one-way rental for my trip. The total came up to a little over $500 for 14 days which was a sweet deal.


Book hotel rooms in advance

Unless you’re camping or have family and friends all over the country, you will need to book hotel rooms. My suggestion would be to book them a couple of months before you leave. By doing that, you should get a better price than you would if you booked them once you got to each destination. You’re also guaranteed a room by booking in advance. The worst thing you could do is drive all day and get to a hotel in the city where you’re supposed to rest at and find all the rooms full.



To help keep your food expenses lower bring snacks with you. A couple of days before you go on your trip you should go to Sam’s and grab items such as chips, fruit, and bottled water. If you have room, you can also bring a small cooler.


Pay bills in advance

Something else that you should do before you leave is to pay your bills in advance. It’s good to do this because you may forget a bill or two while you’re on the road. Having the bills paid in advance will be one less thing for you to worry about.


Have someone check your mail

Before you leave on your trip, ask someone to check your mail periodically. When I went on mine, I asked my neighbor to check mine for me. He obliged. If your trip is longer than 30 days you can check with the post office and get your mail forwarded to a family members address.


As you can see it’s not hard preparing for a cross-country trip. The two weeks that the trip lasted were some of the best days of my life. I have life-long memories that I will cherish forever. It also allowed me to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been a person every since I returned.


 Jason Butler is a freelance writer and blogger at The Butler Journal. He is based out of Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently in the process of paying off $72,000 worth of loans and credit card debt.

Have you considered taking a cross-country road trip? If so, Where would you stop?

Have you considered a cross-country road trip? If so, check out these 11 tips to help you prepare!



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  1. All good points. I did it once from Houston to Los Angeles and also the other way years later when me moved. I didn’t enjoy it very much. Texas landscape to me is quite dull, but l enjoyed the L.A to Arizona part 🙂

  2. Great tips! I would totally do a cross country trip as long as I don’t have to drive! I would definitely go with a group of friends/family in something comfy like an RV or something. I always bring snacks on road trips too.

  3. These are great tips! I wish I had driven cross-country when I was younger. My other half can’t stand being in the car for more than 4 hours, so I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Maybe someday if we buy an RV…..

  4. Great tips! I have never been on a cross-country trip but I would love to! I would have never thought to book my hotel rooms in advance, LOL! I would have been the one to show up in the rooms are full, LOL. Great post!

  5. This sounds exciting, but I wouldn’t want to be the driver lol. I’ve thought about somehow taking a train trip cross country.

  6. Great Tips, I do most of these things before traveling. Paying bills an advance may be the most important one! You don’t want to come back from a trip with with your gas and lights turned off..lol

  7. Great tips. I have done several 5000 mile trips over the years, never from coast to coast though, I really would like to do that at some point. Route 66 is a must do if you have no done that yet, best road trip I have ever been on so far, especially if you schedule time for a few side trips along the way to destinations not exactly on Route 66 but within a short drive from it. Unbelivable. Thanks again for the tips.
    The Broke Dad

  8. When deciding on transportation it is probably worth it to branch out from driving your car or a rental. Both are fine options, however, you could also consider taking a bus if it is going where you want and then get a rental car for only part of the trip. Or, if you want to go in a large group you can always charter a bus. I’m just saying, there are more travel options out there.

  9. I definitely think deciding on who is included on the trip will have the most effect on your finances in the future. The smaller the group the less costly and more easy it will be to navigate to wherever you are going. I’ll have to consider your tips if I ever go on a road trip with my friends.

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