Planning Your Next Road Trip from New York City

man on a roadtrip

As the world reopens and gets reacquainted with pre-pandemic norms, many people are eager to travel. But because travel restrictions vary in each continent, your best option is to explore the country first.

Ease back into travel by starting with a road trip. If you’re tired of NYC and you’re itching to go someplace different, here’s your guide to finding the perfect destination and preparing for the road trip of a lifetime.

Where to Go

You don’t have to get on a plane to experience the adventure of a lifetime. Here are some places that you can explore without needing to visit JFK:

Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for a quick getaway that takes you on a full nature immersion, you can find the Pocono Mountains just two hours away from NYC. From hiking and bird watching to golfing and fishing, you can easily unwind in the rich natural scenery of the Poconos.

Westerly, Rhode Island

If you’re looking for a quaint coastal town to make you forget about the busy city, you’ll love Westerly. If you aren’t exploring its bars and coffee shops, you’ll enjoy its unspoiled beaches.

Alexandria, Virginia

Considering that the city is George Washington’s hometown, you’ll have a greater appreciation for its rich colonial history and the 18th and 19th-century facades that make up its charm.

Chicago, Illinois

If there’s one city in the entire country that comes close to New York, it’s definitely Chicago. So why not take the 12-hour road trip and see for yourself why its bold architecture and windy streets are well-loved by many.

Miami, Florida

Just like New York, it’s a city that never sleeps because there are parties all day and night. And if you’re into the art scene, Miami’s street art is unmatched.

Los Angeles, California

What road trip list is complete if there isn’t one cross-country road trip suggestion? A non-stop drive takes around 40 hours. But for trips like these, it’s all about taking in your surroundings and taking your time to get to the destination. You can explore many tranquil national parks and bustling cities along the way.

What to Prepare for Your Road Trip

If you aren’t renting a vehicle and you’re more comfortable driving your own car, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure your car is clean. Throw away old plastic wrappers, empty water bottles, empty tissue boxes, and any other trash you might have left lying around in your car.
  • Schedule a tune-up. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if you aren’t due for a tune-up yet, you might want to schedule one before you go on your trip. This includes checking the air filters, coolant, brake fluid, clutch fluid, and other consumables that keep your car going.
  • Change your oil. By scheduling an oil change, you remove any dirt build-up or sludge that might be preventing your engine from running efficiently. It contributes to the overall cleanliness and optimal performance of your engine, especially if you’ll be driving a long distance.
  • Check your tires, brake pads, and lines. No matter how exciting your road trip may sound, you always have to prioritize your safety. This means checking your tires for wear and making sure they’re adequately inflated. This also means making sure your brakes are working properly.
  • Make sure headlights, brake lights, and warning lights are working properly. By doing so, you’re making sure your car is safe to operate.

Now that your vehicle is ready for your trip, it’s time to iron out the rest of the details.

First, plan your main stops. Are you going for a jam-packed 5-day drive to the next state? Or are you planning a laidback two-week vacation in small towns and tourists locations?

Highlight the main stops of your route so you know where to go. But be flexible when you’re actually on the road. You might just run into a local diner or a quirky establishment that you didn’t see online. And who likes being cooped up in a car for so long, after all? Give yourself time to stretch and explore outside.

Second, stock up on your food and water. It’s important for you to pack the right food for your trip. This includes food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, individually packed snacks that you can easily eat on the road, and bottles of water and other drinks that can keep you full while driving on the highway.

Third, curate your playlist and download your podcasts. Although you’ll be in good company while you’re on the road, you can get tired of talking to each other in a confined space for a long time. Or you might just find yourself not being in the mood to talk. This is where your playlists and podcasts come in.

Fourth, make sure you packed all your essentials. This doesn’t just include your clothes. You also have to pack a first-aid kit because you never know what can happen, especially on a long-distance trip.

Of course, you also have to bring a pillow to keep yourself comfortable and well-rested in the car. Just make sure you don’t leave it behind at the places you’re staying at!

Finally, take photos but focus on the moment. Bring out your camera to capture scenic sights and memorable moments with the people you’re with. But don’t make the trip all about pictures and videos. While it’s important to document everything, the trip will feel better if you live in the moment.

Have fun and stay safe on the road!

By Bonnie Rush

Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.

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