How To Plan a Cross Country Trip


You’ve been wanting for years to take a cross-country trip. You have been accumulating leave time from your job and talking with some others who also want to make this trip, anticipating what fun it would be to see all the great sites of the United States, its history and its features. Finally, it has all come together. You, your spouse, and another couple have all arranged for three weeks off during the summer and you are all excited about seeing the most famous places within our borders. Everyone is agreed that you would like to also find some out-of-the-way places—the little gems and treasures hidden in along the back roads of America.
This type of trip can be uplifting and exciting. It can also be totally exhausting, tedious and even boring without prior planning. Fifty years ago, planning for travel used to just consist of grabbing a map, finding your destination, and drawing a line from one point to another. There weren’t many printed resources telling you where to find the best hotels/motels and attractions. You were basically on your own to find your way from one point to another. It was only after many trips along the same route that you developed a list of favorite places like South of the Border (a taste of the Southwest on the North Carolina-South Carolina border) and Cypress Gardens (an oasis in the middle of Florida where stacks of water skiers fly across the water and never seem to fall).

As our country grew and the options for long-distance travel became less centered on the railroad and more feasible by automobile, the number of roadside attractions also grew. In the 21st century we now have so many places to choose from along any given route that it’s almost impossible to embark on a long-distance trip without some prior knowledge about what’s out there. You can still drive along I-95 south from Virginia to Georgia and know exactly how many miles it is to South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina, but for the most part, a drive along most interstate highways presents the traveler with so many options that it can be exasperating trying to decide which are the best choices for fun, good food, and a nice place to stay.
The interstate system also introduced a serious obstacle to the more relaxing drive through the country and the discovery of out-of-the-way country inns, “mom-and-pop” restaurants and diners offering home-cooked food and home-made ice cream, and the occasional covered-bridge, water fall, or scenic view of some unknown but spectacular valley. Without travel resources and prior planning, many of these travel gems will never be found. Even the spontaneous traveler will encounter such things by accident but will miss even more by not being familiar with the area.

NOTE TO READER: Cypress Gardens closed in 2009 and will reopen as Legoland in late 2011.
This great country is dotted with great things to do, places to visit, food to eat, and accommodations that range from a room over the local pub in a tiny town in the Adirondacks to a magnificent 1,000-room resort in the Catskill Mountains or a rustic honeymoon cabin in the Rockies. Finding these great experiences has become a skill, honed and practiced by professional trip planners who use computer-generated resources and mapping techniques.

If you are looking for the “trip-of-a-lifetime” where you can experience some of the finest accommodations this country has to offer, the most spectacular views, the most interesting historic sites, and the little gems and treasures along the way, prior trip planning is the best way to find some of them before venturing out on the road, hoping to just stumble across something neat to do. A professional trip planner is certainly an option, but it is possible to gather your own resources and map out your own unforgettable cross-country trip.

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