Is an American Road Trip right for me?I would answer the question as an absolute yes, however it comes with questions: are you ok driving long distances in a car, for example 5 hours of driving per day straight for two weeks? Do you enjoy sleeping in a different bed every night? Are you open for the unexpected? Road trips come with dangers given that you can get into accidents and unforeseen weather changes, getting stuck somewhere or breaking down. However, driving in the United States and Canada is a very safe experience, with an excellent highway and free system that connects national parks and major metropolitan cities. You will definitely see the country’s best when renting a car spending time on the road. While it might not always be very convenient, you will experience a sense of American freedom where you meet many locals on your journey.
Planning an American Road Trip with national parksUltimately, visiting the national parks and driving long-distances into the wide open space will make this a vacation of a lifetime for you. Therefore, we recommend planning ahead and starting with a map. Invest in good printed old school maps as your phone won’t always have connection to Google maps in remote areas. There are three things you should plan ahead:
- Choose your route. You can either make it a round trip or a start-end destination trip with different locations. The advantage of starting/ending at the same area is often better for airfares and car rentals. However, travel time and distance should weigh this decision.
- Reserve a rental car at least 2-3 weeks in advance at the airport where you will arrive. It is fairly easy to pick up rental cars at the airport. Buy proper insurance so that you are fully covered. You can either choose a tour operator/travel agent or find your deals about rental cars online. In case if you get a RV, you should calculate extra budget and insurance given that there are many things inside and outside the RV that can be damaged.
- Make hotel reservations in some areas. Especially in national park areas with a higher visitation, such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Smokey Mountains, it might be challenging not to have a reservation. Check out our individual itineraries to learn more about when it is best to make a reservation. The other alternative is camping. Most of public camp sites in the United States are first-come first serve. This means that you should not be there later that noon to secure your spot. Some campgrounds allow you to make reservations in advance. For reservations inside national parks and state parks, you can find out more under Reserve America.