10 Tips For Driving Across the Country
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- Create a budget
- Plan routes
- Prepare your vehicle
- Update documents
- Navigation system
- Roadside assistance
- Pack accordingly
- Car insurance
Whether you’re taking a free-spirited holiday, moving to another state, or planning the ultimate family bonding trip, making a cross-country road trip requires a lot of preparation. Before you hit the road, you’ll need to create a budget, plan your route, and remember to pack snacks.
Road trips can provide a good dose of adventure, a sense of freedom, and quality time with our road trip companions, but they can seem daunting if you feel unprepared. Luckily, car insurance comparison app Jerry has compiled a list of everything you need to know before hitting the road!
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Create a budget for…
Before you hit the road, make sure you create a general budget of all your possible expenses.
If you’re moving and need equipment or help, that will run you an average of about $1,500 to $6,000. Consider this before planning the rest of your budget.
If moving isn’t a factor in your trip, then the most expensive part of your drive will likely be lodging. Booking hotels ahead of time may save you some extra cash, especially if you use price comparison websites that offer discounts.
If you’re looking for an extra dose of adventure, consider camping. It’s definitely the cheapest option, and you don’t have to rough it—many campsites have amenities that make camping comfortable.
How much gas will you need? With fluctuating gas prices, it’s a good idea to budget for more. Keep in mind, our gas mileage will also be different depending on whether you take interstates or the scenic route.
Food will also be a main budget item. Are you going to hit all of the nation’s best restaurants, or is this more of a “gas station snacks and fast food” kind of trip? A mix of both?
Don’t forget to factor in extra cash for any toll roads or national park entrance fees!
Plan your route
There is no shortage of incredible road trip routes to take in the US. Whichever route you take, there are sure to be plenty of hidden gems along the way, so incorporate some time to stop and smell the roses!
Here are a few tips to help you plan:
Check opening hours
When choosing where to make your stops, be sure to consider the opening hours of all the places on your list, including restaurants and other attractions. Some national parks are closed in certain seasons, so make sure to time your visit around these schedules.
Be mindful of traffic
When traveling on a schedule, it’s never fun to stumble across a massive traffic jam. It’s best to avoid driving through large cities during rush hour. The Waze app is also helpful to route around any unforeseen traffic or construction.
Prepare your vehicle
If you’re taking your own vehicle across the country, you’ll want to make sure it’s in top shape before hitting the road by…
- Taking your car to a mechanic: Getting a mechanic to check out your car will give you peace of mind on your drive.
- Deep cleaning your vehicle: That granola bar wrapper that’s been in your cup holder for months doesn’t need to embark on a cross-country journey with you. To ensure maximum comfort, be sure to do a deep clean of your car before hitting the road—it’s always more comfortable to travel without clutter or trash.
- Check if you have the right rental insurance. If you’re opting for a rental car instead, be sure to double-check that it’s covered by your type of car insurance.
Make sure important documents are updated
Nothing ruins a road trip faster than getting a ticket because of an expired insurance card or license. Before heading out, don’t forget to bring your important car-related documents, like your…
- Proof of insurance
- Driver’s license
- Car registration
- Car manual.
Put those updated documents somewhere handy… just in case!
Stock up on snacks
Everyone knows that snacks are the best part of a road trip, but if your trip is longer than a day, gas station chips and candy are going to get old.
The best travel snacks are individually packaged, easy, and mess-free—bonus points if they’re semi-healthy. Some great road trip snack ideas include…
- Protein bars
- Small packs of crackers
- Beef jerky
- Fruit snacks
- Mixed nuts
Maximize your snack possibilities by bringing along a cooler for the car. This way you can bring along sandwiches, pre-sliced fruit, cheese sticks, or cool beverages to keep you going. A cooler will also minimize the number of stops you need to make. If your ice melts, most gas stations have bags of ice for a quick refill.
Decide on navigation
Now that most of us have smartphones with built-in GPS, we don’t give a second thought to navigation, but road trips can be a bit tricky.
If you’re driving in a remote area without cell service, you run the risk of getting lost. Luckily, there are dozens of navigation apps that can be downloaded and used offline, like Maps.me.
If you’re relying on a smartphone GPS or another portable GPS, be sure to bring car chargers to ensure you don’t run out of juice in the middle of nowhere. It might be a good idea to bring a physical map or atlas, too, just in case.
Sign up for roadside assistance
No one wants to be stranded in unfamiliar territory in the middle of an epic road trip, so roadside assistance is an absolute must.
Jerry’s emergency roadside assistance includes emergency jumpstarts, fuel delivery, tire changes, and vehicle towing up to 10 miles (and more), at your fingertips if the need arises.
If your car needs to be towed, you’ll get up to $25 in Uber credits to help get you where you need to go. Not to mention up to $100 for key replacement, and up to $100 in tire repair per incident, amongst other perks, to help ease the financial pain of any roadside issues.
Be prepared with plenty of entertainment options
If you’re going to be on the road for a while, one epic road trip playlist won’t cut it. Sure, you can always stream something, but what if you’re in a dead zone on a back road? You’re going to need other options.
Especially for kids
If you’re traveling with kids, downloading a few movies or shows is crucial. As for the adults in the car, load up on episodes of a new podcast or download a couple of audiobooks to keep you entertained. Apps like Audible and Libby are lifesavers when it comes to long drives.
When electronics get boring—and they will!—some old-fashioned road trip games might be in order. License plate game, anyone?
Every type of road trip requires a different packing list. For instance, if this is a national parks tour, you’ll obviously need to pack hiking gear. Research packing lists for your specific type of trip—and remember to research the weather in the locations of your stops so you can pack season-appropriate clothing.
For more day-to-day packing needs, you might consider packing an easy-to-grab day backpack with all of your daily necessities. Don’t forget all of the travel essentials to bring along, too!
No matter what kind of trip you’re taking, here are a few important items to be sure to grab on your way out!
- Hiking boots or walking shoes
- Jumper cables
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Refillable water bottle
- Toilet paper or tissues
Make sure you’re not overpaying for car insurance
Nothing puts a damper on a trip than knowing you’re overspending. Downloading the Jerry app is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you. Need some extra cash for a hotel upgrade on your next road trip? The average Jerry driver saves $879 a year!
“I was paying $350 a month for my new car. With Jerry, I set up a new policy in under 30 minutes that will save me over $1000 a year!” —Mariah K.
How many hours a day do you need to drive cross country?
Most people drive for 8-12 hours per day on a cross-country road trip. Depending on the route you decide to take, driving cross country can take anywhere from 36 to 45 hours. This can depend on several factors, including whether or not you take interstates or how long you stop to sightsee, for example.
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