Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tips for Driving Across the U.S.

When my husband, David, and I revealed to the people in our lives that we were not only moving across the country but also planning to drive the 3,000 miles, they were less than encouraging.  We heard lots of comments about how much of a strain it would put on our marriage, and no one could understand why we would put ourselves through all that unwanted stress.   
Sunset drive through the mountains of Arizona

For one thing, we couldn't imagine putting our dog, Loki, through the stress of flying.  
Resting peacefully mid-trip

And for another, we genuinely like spending time together, especially if it means getting to explore lots of new places along the way!
Just outside of Mesa, AZ
We roughly planned out our driving timeline with stops in: Chicago, IL (to see my dad), Omaha, NE (mainly to sleep), Fort Collins, CO (to visit our friend, Crystal), Mesa, AZ (to visit Uncle John), and finally the San Francisco Bay Area (our new home!)

Don't Over Plan

It's tempting to want to make sure you know exactly what your doing at all times on this long trip.  But, you'll drive yourself crazy worrying about where you're going to stop for gas, where you're going to sleep, where you're going to eat, what sights you're going to see...  If something messes with your timeline (which it will) you'll spend way too much energy trying to get back on track.  Instead, have a few ideas in mind so that you have options without setting concrete plans.  And, while it's overkill to plan out each and every stop, don't wait til the last possible second to fill up; there we several stretches of road without anywhere to stop off for quite a while.  Better to be safe than sorry.

That Doesn't Mean You Can Forget About Planning Altogether...
Under foot at a bar in Tempe, AZ

Although it sounds so very free-spirited to be able to just hit the road and see where it takes you, that really wasn't an option for us.  We needed to arrive within our allotted 10 days since my new job started that following Monday!  Another concern we couldn't exactly ignore was the fact that we were bringing a not-so-small animal with us.  We needed to make sure any hotel we stayed at was dog-friendly.  With a little research ahead of time, we found out that La Quinta allows large dogs and being such a huge chain, we didn't really have to worry that there wouldn't be one in whatever town we stopped in.  Anywhere we stopped for food, we always made sure Loki would be welcome.  

Hanger is a Real Thing...

Speaking of food... our car was loaded down with probably entirely too many snacks if I'm being honest, but one thing we knew for sure was that hanger (the foul mood that comes from being hungry) was not going to bring this trip down!  Even when we went hiking in Colorado, I made sure to pack some granola bars so that we both stayed in good spirits.  Of course, it's also extremely important to stay hydrated! 
Don't Rely Too Heavily on Your Phone for GPS/Music

There are still many places in the U.S. that do not have cell phone towers.  Your phone is not a reliable source for navigation or entertainment.  In fact, you may want to turn it off until you arrive at your next stop as you'll probably be charged for roaming...


Communication is key on a trip of this magnitude.  As a common courtesy, we made sure anyone we were visiting along the way knew where we were and when they could expect us.  And of course, our families certainly appreciated knowing we were safe.  But perhaps most importantly, David and I had to make sure we communicated well with one another.  That way there was no confusion in terms of expectations which means less arguing over who drove the most or who gets to pick the next restaurant.

Use Some Common Sense When Packing the Car

Make sure your water, snacks, clothes and toiletries are easily accessible.  If possible, portion out the clothes you're going to wear into a smaller bag so that you don't have lug a big suitcase around with you, especially if you're just stopping for some sleep and a hot shower. 

Take a Moment to Enjoy Each Experience

Horsetooth Mountain Park, CO
Crystal & me, Fort Collins, CO
Me, Uncle John, David & tons of citrus, Mesa, AZ

Sequoia National Park, CA

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for your posts. These bring back memories.
    I have to agree with you and your husband, driving is the best way if you have the time. This is such a big country and you can't see it from the air.
    My wife, our small 3 children at the time, always drove across the country. It gets a little hectic but well worth the memories to look back on.