Roadtripping the USA

Great American song writer and singer, Willie Nelson, once sang, “On the road again,

goin’ places that I’ve never been, seein’ things that I may never see again.” He glorified what may be one of the greatest experiences you could ever have in your life, the great American road trip. There is no need to travel too far, five or 10 hours gets you pretty far outside this wintery wonderland we’ve gotten used to. If you have no plans yet for Spring Break you are not too late. Putting together a last minute road trip is easy and very budget friendly especially with the recent drop in gas prices. So what are you waiting for? Grab your best friends and a map and get going.

Mike Kulik, a senior political science student, recalls his spring break road trip two years ago. He said, “Road trips are hands down the most fun way to travel. The trip becomes more about the adventure and less about the destination. It’s all about the moment and the people you are with. It’s about everything and nothing all at the same time.” 

Road trips are unique in that they allow you to see so much. Taking a plane or train you zoom past all the middle, not stopping at local land marks, never once stopping and meeting a person from small town USA. Road trips let you live in the moment, you are not sitting on a plane waiting to get to a destination, you are living through every mile. 

Brianna Freno, a senior psychology student, said, “I’m most excited for actually seeing a new part of the country, places I wouldn’t necessarily make my ending destination.”

To start this epic adventure you are going to have to pick a destination. Open up a map and start thinking. So many cities sit closer than you think. Decide how long you want to travel and don’t be scared to take a longer trip and stop over night somewhere. It’s all part of the glory that is a road trip. Nashville, TN; Daytona Beach, FL; or Atlanta, GA, all sit a mere 14 hours away. Washington DC holds history and a great nightlife scene only four hours away. Both Carolinas are no more than 10 hours away and filled with unique quaint little cities. And if you want to go a little further, Pensacola, FL or New Orleans, LA are 20 hours away. 

Maybe you want to stay in a different city every night, maybe your destination involves camping. A road trip is yours to plan or let unfold in front of you. As long as you have good company you’ll have a great time. 

For a little help finding cool places to stop at along the way check out websites like or the mobile app, On The Way. Both let you put in your route and look at different places all around them. You can see what would be worth stopping at or what you want to pass by. But remember the best part of a road trip is not confining yourself to a schedule. Make sure to go with the flow too. 

If roadside attractions aren’t particularly your thing, instead try mapping out a restaurant you want to stop at along the way. Headed through the south? Find a restaurant that serves the best southern cuisine and make that a stopping point. Headed up North? Look for the best New England chowder place. America is filled with dives and restaurants waiting to please your taste buds with food always worth the drive.  

Hotels are where most of the expense of a road trip winds up coming from. Look for hotels without all the thrills. For instance, do you really need a pool, mini bar or super speed Wi-Fi? You won’t be spending much time there so there is no need to pay extra for amenities you do not need. Also look for hotels that might sit a little outside of your destinations, they will be a lot cheaper and since you have a car you can drive into your destination. 

Once you have everything mapped out or your route is somewhat set, those long hours in between can seem daunting. William Scott Reynolds, adjunct professor of computer science and software engineering, said, “You can only sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall for so long.” Professor Reynolds suggested playing games like cards against humanity, apples to apples or any trivia game to make the time go by faster. 

A game to play on the road is the license plate game. Print out a list of all the states. Keep track of who spots each license plate first. When you get to your first destination, whoever spotted the least amount of license plates has to pay for dinner. It not only keeps everyone awake but also makes the trip more fun. 

As the great American author and traveler, Jack Kerouac, put it, “The road is life.”