To get to Seattle, I drove across the country from Connecticut. I’m certainly no road-tripping expert, but here are my tips from the road on how to have a great time:
Food is one of the best things about driving across the country. My suggestion is to forget about calories, and try what’s good. Try to eat the regional specialty at each of your stops. Ask about the best local joints and go there. Pack food and snacks in your car and make lunches while you’re on the road, rather than stopping at fast food places. Save your money for the good stuff when you’re in a cool town.
Mix it up. Burn CDs or load up your iPod with music you’re feeling the most right now, rather than the things you’ve played over and over for years. When you run through a good portion of your music, scan the radio for something. Be open minded, listen to anything, you might find something new that you like and might not have heard otherwise. For the music aficionado’s out there, you’d be surprised how good Top 40 music is to drive to. Quite frankly, a catchy pop tune with a good beat can get you in a good state of mind to drive, possibly better than your favorite obscure indie acoustic singer/songwriter.
If you can, stay with friends or family. I guarantee it will be more fun, and they can show you the inside scoop about their home. When you can’t stay with friends or family, and weather/your gear permits, go camping. I know everyone might not be psyched on camping, especially in unfamiliar locations, but hotels are cookie cutter accommodations. They’re the same everywhere…boring. At least, if you camp, you get to experience something unique to that place, and it’s much cheaper. National forests are a great place…
The ultimate question: to drive alone or with a friend? I drove alone, and loved it. The reason I loved it was because I got to do exactly what I wanted on my trip. Setting your own schedule and routing your trip according to your own interests is definitely a positive of traveling solo. However, I think traveling solo would work best if you had friends to stay with each night. That way, you get the best blend of alone time and social time. However, if you’re not staying with friends at each stop, a road trip, particularly across country, could be pretty lonely, in which case taking a friend along might be the better choice. Not to mention, they could help drive or offset fuel costs.
See cool stuff! This will vary with each person’s taste. Once again, I recommend mixing it up. Visit great cities (the best places for food), but also natural sites. National parks are an obvious choice. If you have the time, get out and do some hiking. You can also have a theme as you travel, such as visiting stadiums, historic sites, etc.
There you have it! Take a road trip, it’s a great time!