Skip to Content

How To Plan An Epic Road Trip In The U.S.

Looking to plan an epic road trip in the U.S.? Well we have all types of great advice so you won’t skip a beat when planning your next road trip. Road tripping is the primary way that Jake and I travel, so we can help you plan many epic adventures. Whether you need help choosing where to go, what to do or simple luxuries to make a trip legendary, we’ve got your back. Follow this guide on how to plan an epic trip in the U.S. below.

Famous Shot At Alabama Hills

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Pick A Budget:

Emily holding money on the hood of our van

First step on how to plan an epic road trip in the U.S. is to pick a budget for your road trip. Are you trying to stay on a tight budget or is budget not an issue? 

If you are on a tight budget, have a set money amount that you need to stick with. I am a huge advocate for planning, so I like to have a set budget for each road trip we go on. 

Once you decide your budget, divide it by how many days you plan to travel. Once you find that # then you are ready to start planning your road trip. For example, lets say your budget is $400 and you plan to travel for a week. $400/7 = $57 per day. 

Having this # will help you choose how far you can go with “typical” gas prices and help you choose the right type of accommodation. If your budget is tight (such as $57/ day) you are most likely going to want to travel closer to home, choose camping instead of hotels and maybe lean toward free activities (such as hiking).

If you are traveling with a friend, make sure you have a similar budget in mind. This way it will help you decide what activities you will both enjoy. And therefore, one person won’t be expecting to stay in a fancy hotel and going out to eat for every meal versus the person on a tight budget that prefers cheaper accommodations or even camping. 

If budget isn’t an issue, then just keep swiping that credit card! 😉 Just kidding! Road trips can be much less expensive than flying, so I still think you should consider trying to keep the cost down with some of these tips on how to plan an epic road trip!

Check out our post: How To Plan A Budget-Friendly Road Trip for tips on saving money on your next road trip!

Pin Out Where You Want To Go:

Pinning out where you want to travel with google maps
Pinning out where you want to travel with google maps

When planning a road trip, I first ask myself a few questions. Where do I want to go? How long do I have to travel there? What kind of attractions am I looking for? Do I want to make it an out and back road trip or a big loop? etc.

Then it’s time to do your research. I do my research by either searching on Google Best Attractions Near BLANK city or look for Travel Guides on Pinterest. I then make a list of all the places I want to travel within the area. Jake and I primarily travel on a tight budget, so we prefer free or inexpensive activites such as hiking, kayaking, backpacking, etc. 

I then place all the attractions into Google Maps and map my route in the order we should hit each attraction. (Google Maps will allow you to pick up to 10 locations) People also like to use apps like Roadtrippers or TheDyrt. I don’t have much experience with these apps, but they can help you choose attractions along your route and help you choose the appropriate accommodation.

Also, pay attention to seasons and weather.  Because certain places, roads, trails, and activities could be closed during certain times of year.  Or you could catch special seasonal moments like annual festivals, wildflower blooms, or animal migrations.  So be sure to verify that your epic road trip itinerary makes sense seasonally.

A quick google search like “what is the best time of year to visit Death Valley National Park?” can give you a little guidance.  For example, if you visit Death Valley in the summer, you are almost guaranteed to experience temps over 100F.  That could make for some really unpleasant hiking.

But Be Flexible When You Plan An Epic Road Trip:

Feeling the wind in your fingers is a subtle joy of road trips.

Don’t plan the whole trip to be time-sensitive. Let there be a little room between each place in case you find something else epic to do along your route. 

You never know if you might run into a local and they suggest a whole list of great attractions in the area you must check out. Or you run into a billboard that grabs your attention. 

Or oftentimes, if Jake and I pick a long strenuous hike, we just want a day to rest and give our bodies a break. So it’s important to be flexible so you don’t tire yourself out. And that includes setting a realistic itinerary, that gives you easier days too.

Choosing Accommodation:

Now that you have your route generally planned out it’s time to choose where you will be staying. Do you want to stay in hotels? Air BnB’s? Campgrounds? Free Campsites?

If you choose the hotel route, use websites like Kayak or to get the best deals on your stay. My advice is to plan out your trip day by day, so you know how long you need in each area. And a bonus is if you are able to find accommodation with lenient cancellation policies. Because as listed above, you want to have some flexibility when on an epic road trip. 

Or if you are traveling with your family or a group it can be nice to get an AirBnB or Vrbo to feel like you’re at home. 

Last but not least is camping. Depending on where you are traveling you can book campgrounds in advance so you know you have a place to stay. Or ditch the formal campgrounds in favor of boondocking at free campsites (our primary method of travel).

To find free camping, use our post: 3 Great Website For Finding Free Camping

Consider Renting An RV or Campervan:

A Dodge Ram Promaster campervan in the mountains

If you are trying to plan an epic road trip, then consider renting an RV or Campervan. That way you can roll in style and have the comfort of a home right behind the front seats. Two incredible companies to rent a personal RV from are RVezy and Outdoorsy. Both of these companies make renting a tiny home on wheels a breeze. Straight-forward and less expensive than other commercial companies. 

By renting an RV or Campervan, you can take out the cost of staying at hotels every night. You can even find a place to camp for free. 

Check out our post —> 3 Great Website To Find Free Camping

Or you can find campgrounds all across the U.S. that are much cheaper than a hotel. Plus, then you have your own personal kitchen, fridge, and living space if you want to make your own meals or just need a break from driving for a bit. Making your own meals in a campervan can save you a ton versus eating out every meal.

Pack Lots Of Snacks:

Photo by Sandra Harris on Unsplash

Of course one of the most important items on how to plan an epic road trip in the U.S. is to pack a ton of delicious snacks. Gotta stay fueled while on the road. 

We like to pack some healthy snacks for sustained energy on an epic road trip.  But the occasional splurge on some candy is also a must!

Bring A Double-Insulated Cooler:

Jake and I love bringing our RTIC cooler along on road trips so we always have cold snacks and cold beverages. And with the RTIC cooler, things stay cold for multiple days! Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a cold beverage or maybe a cheese & cracker snack on a long road trip?! 

We also love to cut down on cost by making our own meals on the road, so we can avoid stopping at restaurants for all our meals. So by having a double insulated cooler, we can keep our refrigerated food fresh and have good meals along our trip. Some of our favorite things to pack are a fruit salad, cold pasta salad or meat and cheese for sandwiches. 

Download Music, Podcasts & Audible for Offline Use:

No epic road trip is complete without a good playlist, interesting podcast and/or a thrilling book. Jake and I have tons of playlists on Spotify so we can choose a playlist that goes along with our mood. (Our favorites: Folksey (Upbeat), Summer Road Trips, and O Long Johnson)

And occasionally you get tired of belting out to all your favorite songs, so it’s time to dial it back and listen to some interesting podcasts. Some of our favorite podcasts are Radiolab, Planet Money, and The Fantasy Footballers.

Or download a book from Audible to listen to offline. Audible has hundreds of thousands of books to choose from, ranging from classics to bestsellers. 

Pack Essential Car Gadgets:

GPS on a phone mount on a Roadtrip out the front windshield at Glacier National Park

And obviously, you need a way to charge and listen to those playlists, podcasts and audiobooks endlessly. Or a place for your phone so you can be hands-free with the GPS. So don’t forget to pack the car gadget essentials. 

Take Breaks For Stretching/Exercise:

One of my biggest complaints about long road trips is you can get sore or restless from sitting too much. So when you stop for a bathroom break or at one of your destinations, be sure to get in a good stretch. Or if none of your destinations on your road trip include exercise, allot some time for a quick walk or hike to get the blood flowing and your body some movement.

Make Sure You Have Road-Side Assistance:

Jake working on the van

We all cross our fingers that nothing bad will happen along a road trip, but accidents happen and mechanical issues come about. So be sure you have road-side assistance so you can hopefully get back on the road as quickly as possible if there is a problem to occur to the vehicle. 

A solid choice for roadside assistance is AAA. Or some insurance companies include roadside assistance, so double-check your insurance plan details.

Related Posts:

Takeaway | How To Plan An Epic Road Trip In The U.S.:

Road trips are one of Jake and my favorite things to do. Which is why we live in a camper van full-time. It is a great way to see a ton of beautiful destinations in one trip. It allows you to enjoy the journey and see somethings you usually wouldn’t if you chose to fly. So we hope this guide on How To Plan An Epic Road Trip In The U.S. sets you up for success on your next adventure. 

Help Us Share ‘How To Plan An Epic Road Trip In The U.S.’ On Pinterest

How To Plan A Budget-Friendly Road Trip - tworoamingsouls

Thursday 6th of April 2023

[…] […]

Can You Rent A Campervan? | Ultimate Guide To Renting A Campervan - tworoamingsouls

Friday 2nd of April 2021

[…] […]