Your First Time… Going on a Cross-Country Road Trip

Roadtrip (Image Credit: Maridav)
Roadtrip (Image Credit: Maridav)

Road trips – one of this country’s greatest traditions and so often overlooked as a preferred mode of travel.  Most people talk of driving across the country as a “bucket list” goal but only the brave follow through.  I have recently spanned this great nation in my Hyundai Accent from coast to coast and I want to share a few tips with you on how to be a smart road tripper.

Learn to read a map

Although I heavily utilized the GPS on my cell phone, there are areas of this country that will not support your 4G LTE connection, so you better know how to go old school and break out the Rand McNalley.

Buy a car charger for your cell phone

I made the mistake of thinking I could last a whole day without charging my phone but this was not smart considering the amount of juice GPS sucks up when used.  I picked a generic one up at a gas station in Indiana for less than $5.

Be prepared to take a lot of photos

I must admit that throughout my trip I exhibited risky driving behaviors by whipping out my phone to take photos every time I crossed into a new state or saw a spectacular view.  I rarely stopped the car, and instead I just held the phone above the steering wheel and went for it.  I don’t recommend this, but I guarantee you will see amazing vistas, funny road signs and other randomness that will warrant photography – so be prepared!

Load up on water and healthy snacks

Food on the road is not exactly healthy but you can make it less damaging by preparing your snackage pre-trip with a quick run to the grocery store.  Buy bottled water, nuts, dried fruit (fresh fruit will inevitably go bad) and maybe some Corn Nuts (my personal fave).  All that time sitting down may also cause swelling in your lower extremities but hydrating helps keep this at a minimum.

Stop as often as possible

I wasn’t lucky enough to call my road trip a true vacation so I was ambitious with my mileage every day.  However, I recommend driving less than 500 miles per day so you can enjoy random stops at historical sites, national parks, etc.  I also think it helps immensely with circulation and getting in some much needed stretching.  Roadside yoga is the way to go!

Yelp

This website and app managed to steer me in the direction of a drool worthy café in the middle of Montana, a fun dance club in Oklahoma City and an absolutely fabulous wine bar in Manitou Springs, CO.  If in doubt, check with some locals.

Bringing along a friend or family member is definitely a preferable way to go on a road trip that will surely take you a minimum of four days (one way) but I also think going alone is cathartic.  I went solo for my journey and I had a great time singing in my car, dictating script ideas on my phone and contemplating life in general.  I also had the chance to visit four different friends in various parts of the country that I hadn’t seen in years.  My trip was a vacation, pilgrimage and adventure rolled up into one.  Make the most of your trip and be prepared for the unexpected!

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BreAna Hansen studied Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She won two UCI screenwriting awards while earning her Bachelors and continues to develop screenplays in her free time. BreAna is a member of Women in Film Seattle and the Society for Cinema & Media Studies. She is also the creator and principle writer of A Girl with Glasses, an entertainment blog.

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