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A Guide To Planning West Coast USA Road Trips
There’s nothing quite like the romance of a road trip. Sure, you could visit all of the same places individually, but nothing beats the sound of the radio as you drive along the open roads with the windows down. Whether traveling solo or in a group, hiring a car gives you the freedom to explore as and when you want to, without the hassle of having to line up your plans with public transportation or internal flights.
Perhaps one of the most famous road trip destinations in the world is the West Coast of America. Home to Seattle, San Francisco, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and the world-renowned redwoods of California, there’s plenty to keep you occupied, whether you’re traveling for a couple of weeks or a month.
But how can you plan this epic adventure to make sure you get the best experience? Let’s take a look.
If you have any questions/comments about all this, feel free to leave them below, as we have plenty of experience road-tripping, which you may already know if you’ve read our Southern New Mexico road trip itinerary.
Decide On Your Must-See Spots
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to locations to visit on your West Coast USA road trips, and as such, it’s important to narrow down your choices to some absolute must-see places. Once you’ve got those in place, you can add some of the reserve cities to your itinerary if you have time for them, but you don’t want to go to the effort of planning such a big trip and miss out on your bucket list places.
That being said, don’t be afraid to leave the tourist traps behind for a day or two in favor of small towns and open national parks. Taking a slower pace of life will help you have a well-rounded, unique experience.
Don’t Forget To Rest
When planning your West Coast USA road trips, it’s really important to remember that there’s a lot of driving involved. Especially if you’re traveling solo, or with just one other person, you’ll be covering far more miles than you would at home. This can mean that you get tired, which can lead to poor concentration and dangerous driving. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that drowsy driving led to 91,000 crashes as recently as 2017.
So, make sure that you plan in rest stops along the way, and be realistic with your timings. You may want to build in a buffer for longer days, choosing hotels or accommodation without a strict check in time, so you can take a break when you need to, rather than racing against the clock.
Work Out Your Budget
There are lots of different costs involved in a road trip – the car hire, gas, insurance, food, accommodation, activity costs – so before you go, sit down and work out a budget. You don’t want to get to these amazing places and not be able to eat at that restaurant you’ve always dreamed of going to, or have to remove a place from your itinerary to reduce spending. Planning in advance will help make this a trip of a lifetime, so start saving early to ensure you can make memories you’ll never forget.
Check Your Vehicle
Before you hit the road for any of the many West Coast USA road trips out there, make sure your car is in good working order. Check the tire pressure, as this is important for both fuel efficiency and optimal performance. Check the tread depth and look for any wear or damage. Next, make sure the oil levels are correct, as this is important for the engine’s health. Do not forget about the brakes, which should be responsive and in good condition.
Finally, make sure you have a spare tire that fits properly, a jack, and the tools needed to change tires. If your car has not had a full service in a while, schedule one. This comprehensive check should also include the engine, transmission, belts, and hoses to reduce the risk of breakdowns.
A successful road trip starts with thoughtful packing. Start with the necessities: a fully stocked first-aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications. Bring enough water and snacks to keep everyone hydrated and energized, especially if you are traveling through remote areas. Do not forget maps and a power bank to keep your devices charged.
If your trip involves outdoor activities, pack appropriate gear like hiking shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Additionally, bring appropriate clothing for changing weather conditions. While it is important to pack essentials, do not forget to leave room in your luggage for mementos and interesting discoveries along the way, as there are likely many items you’ll fancy along your West Coast USA road trips experiences.
Embrace Local Experiences
Immerse yourself in the local way of life and culture to make your road trip truly enriching. This means seeking out genuine experiences instead of just the typical tourist attractions. Sample the local cuisine for a delightful way to learn about the history and culture of the area. Take part in local events, festivals, or markets for unique insights into the community and its customs. Talk to locals for recommendations and stories that can add depth to your travels.
These local interactions and experiences can turn your simple West Coast USA road trips into a journey full of unforgettable stories and a deeper appreciation of the places you visit. Embracing local experiences not only adds excitement to your trip but also supports the local economy.
West Coast USA Road Trips – Conclusion
In conclusion, road trips along the West Coast of the United States provide an unmatched chance to discover the various landscapes and cultures of this famous region.
From the foggy forests of the Pacific Northwest to the sun-kissed beaches of California, every turn of the road brings a fresh experience. Whether you are seeking solace in the serene beauty of national parks and lesser-known towns, or soaking in the vibrant city life of places like Seattle and San Francisco, these journeys promise unforgettable experiences.
You can guarantee your West Coast USA road trips will not just be a journey, but a treasure trove of memories by allowing yourself to be open to new experiences but also carefully planning your itinerary, budget, and lodging, and remaining receptive to the unforeseen magic that comes with travel.