Your Summer Road Trip Planning Guide

May 26, 2017

summer road trip It’s summer — road trip time! If you’re thinking that this might be the year you finally do that big, cross-country trip, we can help. We’ve done the research to help you figure out your summer road trip budget, your strategy and the best road trip routes.

How much does it actually cost to do a summer road trip?

For thrifty travelers, a good target budget is $50 per day. That’s how much blogger Nomadic Matt spent on a 116-day road trip around the United States. Well, he actually spent about $54 per day, but, he confesses, he splurged on Starbucks’ lemonade and sushi. To save money, he recommends using Airbnb, car camping, couch surfing and cooking your own meals. Inversely, if you like nice hotels and restaurants, you can easily double or triple that budget.

Is 2017 a good year to take a long summer road trip?

Yes… and no. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that the 2017 summer driving season will see gas prices around $2.36, on average. Unfortunately, that’s higher than the $2.23 we saw in 2016. But then again, it’s way lower than the 2012 average of $3.64 per gallon.

Which states have the cheapest gas?

For a super-cheap road trip, head south. According to GasBuddy’s ever-updating list of gas prices by state, the states with the cheapest gas tend to be in the south: South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas…

The states with the most expensive gas are all to the west: California, Hawaii, Washington and Alaska.

What’s the best way to do a cross-country road trip?

That depends on what you want to see! Auto blog Jalopnik has a few ideas: Take U.S. 6 from Cape Cod to Long Beach, or U.S. 50 from Ocean City, Md. to Sacramento. Or, for you crazy iconoclasts, drive north to south along U.S. 83: “No 4-lane interstate, no metropolitan areas, just miles and miles of rolling grasslands and expanses of wide open country,” one Jalopnik submitter writes.

You can also aim from East to West, stopping at the best car camping destinations.

How long is a road trip around the continental United States?

12,225 miles. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that’s the length of the summer road trip taken by Brian DeFrees. Beginning in Syracuse, N.Y., he drove an enormous circle around the U.S., visiting 33 states in total. Best of all, he turned time-lapse footage from his trip into a 5-minute video that shows all the wonders of the American landscape, from misty pines to towering palm trees, red mesas to silver skyscrapers.

What’s the best road trip route that visits all 48 states?

Hankering to see every corner of this great nation? Randal S. Olson used a computer algorithm to figure out the perfect road trip that makes at least one stop in all lower 48 states; only stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments; and never leaves the U.S. This ultimate road trip route is 13,699 miles long, taking about 224 hours to drive.

What are the best road trip destinations for speed demons?

Love to drive fast? Then Texas is calling your name — specifically Texas State Highway 130. The speed limit is 80 on the section of the highway with tolls, except for a 41-mile section between Mustang Ridge and Seguin, which has a speed limit of 85 mph. That’s the fastest legal speed in the U.S.

But 41 miles isn’t much of a journey. For a longer ride, plan your summer road trip in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, where the speed limit is 80 mph on rural highways.

What are the worst road trip destinations for speeders?

Some states are notoriously bad places to put pedal to metal because of abundant speed traps and harsh penalties. The worst is New Jersey, with a speed trap every 30 miles and a law that doubles fines for going 10 miles per hour or more over the limit. The other worst states for speeding are Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire and California.

Are you paying sky-high car insurance rates because of past speeding tickets? Thankfully, you can do better — and save a few bucks for gas on your next road trip. All you have to do is get some free auto insurance quotes on and pick the best insurer for you.

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