How to Make the Most of Your Cross-Country Road Trip

Karen Victoria Peck

So many places, so little time.

When I had the opportunity to move from NYC to San Diego, I did what any rational human would do. I summoned by bestie to co-pilot a one week cross-country road trip. Here are some tips for making the most of yours if you have the chance to do so.

1. Figure out what your must-do stops are. 

Prioritize! Once you pick out your must-do's, your route will take shape. Then, be sure to pick out some other options that you can maybe do, time permitting. For us, we knew we wanted to visit friends in Boulder, go to a Jack Johnson concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, stay in Moab, hike the Narrows at Zion NP, tour Antelope Canyon, and see the Grand Canyon. For the rest of our time, we just filled in the blanks with our still-amazing-second-tier picks like hiking to the Delicate Arch in Arches NP, snapping some quick pics at Bryce NP, and visiting a brewery that makes some of our fave beers. 

Narrows at Zion

2. Be realistic about the time you have and how long each stop will take. 

Once you have your must-do's, make sure to anticipate how long each stop should take. I highly recommend the app Roadtrippers. It's great at finding places to eat, sleep, hike, sightsee, etc. along your route. This is when you can add dates to your plans, check out the anticipated driving times for each leg of your trip, and make some hotel and campground rezzies to help keep your plans on track. And, of course, use The Outbound's app to find the best adventures along the way.

Delicate Arch

3. Leave some margin for mishaps.

I'll admit, I'm a planner. But there's nothing worse than spending all your time glancing at your watch, worrying if you can make it all work out. Definitely don't jam pack your days SO tight that you can't deviate from the plan or make necessary adjustments after some unexpected turns. Traffic happens. So do hangovers (I still blame the elevation at Red Rocks). Torrential downpours could crush your camping plans. Embrace it. Maybe knock out a couple sets of lunges in the fitness section of Walmart during a 70 mph wind/hail storm in the middle of Nebraska that will leave you stranded for an hour. Jus sayin'. 

Antelope Canyon

Driving across country is the opportunity of a lifetime. There are undoubtedly going to be some super long days behind the wheel, make sure to have some fun with it! Last but not least, shout outs to my girl, Chelsea Handler, and her audio books for getting us through those endless, cornfield-filled days.


Published: April 14, 2017

Karen Victoria Peck

As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart †

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

Climbing in 18-Degree Weather to Shoot the Sunrise

Vantage, Washington

One of the things that I love about photography is how the quality of light can make or break a photo. When shooting outdoors it is those early hours in the morning that I love the most.

0 Saves

6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography

When most people start out taking landscape photos, they think they need to get a wide angle lens in order to capture the whole landscape. When I bought my first DSLR, I was one of those people.

0 Saves

Our Hike to Angels Landing: Dangerous? Maybe. Amazing? Definitely.

Angels Landing, Utah

Three weeks before my sister turned 24 she texted me to ask if I wanted to go on a trip for her birthday. She wasn’t sure where she wanted to go but she knew she wanted to be outdoors.

0 Saves