Take the Ultimate American Road Trip

June 6, 2017 - Updated May 1, 2018; July 24, 2020

Make sure your vehicle is prepared for any road trips, planned or unplanned.Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)

America has over 4.07 million miles of public roadway.

That, our friends, is over 4 million opportunities to go adventuring.

From California’s Pacific Coast Highway, to Route 66 (aka the Mother Road), to the Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia & North Carolina), to a fall foliage tour in New England (like along the Kancamagus Highway, NH), America is chock full of opportunities to hit the road for a scenic outing.

Where Will the Road Take You?

Did you know that:

  • A strip of Route 66 near the village of Tijeras (east of Albuquerque) contains rumble strips calibrated to play part of the tune “America the Beautiful” if driven over at the speed limit of 45 mph?
  • The Tail of the Dragon, famous for its degree of difficulty, in Tennessee and North Carolina is only 11 miles long?

With over 4.07 million miles of public roads, where will YOU go?

We’ve done a bit of the footwork for you and scoured the internet for some of the best road trip ideas!

Pre-Planned Road Trip Ideas

Luckily, many of have traveled the roads before you and logged their journeys online - so a plethora of road trip ideas is at the tips of your fingers.

Outside: 10 All-American Summer Roadtrips

Fodor: 20 Ultimate American Road Trips

National Geographic: America's Best Road Trips

(As an aside, National Geographic also has a wonderful photo feature of all 61 U.S. National Parks)

Lonely Planet: North America’s Best Road Trips

MarketWatch: 12 Best American Road Trips

Travel Fact: 15 Great American Road Trips For Your Bucket List

Road Trip USA:: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways

The Telegraph: Eight incredible American road trips you must experience in your lifetime

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you’re more a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of person, maybe making your own road trip is the way to go.

Google Maps tends to be a go-to for almost everyone for short trips, but it can also be useful - with a bit more effort - for planning longer trips. Sites like Outdoor Blueprint offer detailed instructions on how to plan a road trip with Google Maps.

The American Automobile Association (more commonly known as AAA) also offers its online TripTik Travel Planning services free of charge. If you’re a AAA member you can request physical maps and plans of your travel plans mailed to you (because you never know when you’ll lose cell phone provider service).

The Mother of All-American Road Trips

But what if you’ve decided to “Go Big or Go Home” and you want the ULTIMATE American road trip experience?

In that case, you’ll want to refer to the work supplied by Randy Olson, a Senior Data Scientist. He created an algorithm that allowed him to compute the ultimate road trip across every state in America.

Check out the Optimal Road Trip Across the United States!

6 Things to Do Before you Hit the Road

You’ve made the decision. You’re going on a road trip.

You’ve got your suitcase, your wallet, your map, and your phone. Hold on, though - you’re probably also going to want to pack some additional supplies in your vehicle.

Build the Ultimate Vehicle First Aid & Emergency Survival Kit

And you’re definitely going to want to give your car a thorough once-over:

Schedule a checkup

Schedule any necessary services like oil changes and tune ups, and check basics like wipers and windshield washer fluid levels.

Check your battery

On average, a car battery might last three to five years. Signs that it might need replacing include a slow engine crank, check engine light, a rotten egg smell around the battery, and low battery fluid level.

Shop for battery chargers

Check your tires for wear

Those four bits of rubber are the only contact your car will have with the road. Best make sure they’re in great shape if you’re about to test them on a road trip!

How to tell how much life is left on your tires

How to read tire wear

Have your brake pads checked for wear

Does your vehicle stop quickly and immediately? Do you hear any grinding or squealing during braking? Brake pads need to be replaced periodically and rotors machined to keep the car braking as it should.

Shop for brake pads

Shop for brake rotors

Check your vehicle’s load capacity

You definitely don’t want to put too much weight in the vehicle. Most newer cars have the vehicle’s total weight capacity (cargo and passengers together) printed on the sticker inside the driver’s side door jam. (And don’t forget that fuel economy is reduced with extra weight/cargo).

Happy and safe travels!

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