The best guide for planning a road trip in America

25 tips for traveling in the USA by car (+ car rental)

Traveling around the U.S. by car

Traveling around the U.S. by car is an unforgettable trip through the roads, cities and parks of America that you will remember for a long time. You must be well prepared to make it as interesting as possible. Practical information and useful tips on some of the peculiarities of driving in the States will help you get accustomed to driving faster and see the sights and beautiful nature of America out-of-town. In this article I am going to share 25 useful tips and recommendations for traveling around the States by car, based on my own experience of several road trips across various U.S. states in a rental car.

Rent a car in the U.S.

Useful tips for traveling in the USA by car

You may rent a car in the USA with a Russian driver’s license (you may not need an international driver’s license to rent a car as you would in Thailand). The driver must be over 20 years old and have at least 1 year of driving experience. Young drivers under 24 years old, regardless of driving experience, can only rent an inexpensive car and must purchase additional insurance. To rent a premium car like a Tesla, Lexus, Ford Mustang, or Chevrolet Camaro, you must have more than 3 years of driving experience.

To pre-book a car from rental agencies in the U.S., you need to find a suitable option (we search on Rentalcars.com ) and choose a period to calculate prices. If you do not want to make an advance payment, then you do not have to specify in the special form of booking bank card details, which will be the amount required to pay for the rental. But the price in this case may be higher.

Useful tip:

The cheapest options for car rental in the U.S. (from $20 per day) are convenient to look for here

By the way, it is quite easy to book a car in the U.S. at a low price in a special search form:

2. Make your travel itinerary by car in advance, preparing a program of your trip to the U.S. for each day and working it out as much in detail as possible. Distances and travel time are convenient to calculate with Google Maps .

3. It is convenient to travel by car in America with a GPS navigator. To save on renting it (about 5 dollars a day), do not forget to take your own navigator in the States, or download offline maps to your smartphone beforehand.

4. For trips with children, you’ll also need to rent child seats . If you’ll be traveling around the U.S. by car for a long time, it will be more profitable to buy them in the store and then sell them at a discount.

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5. When traveling, it is very convenient to use paper maps of roads and regions you are traveling through, with landmarks marked on them. You can buy them in supermarkets across America and at many gas stations.

By Car in the U.S.

See what retro cars are being driven in the U.S.!

6. Keep in mind that some roads and bridges in the U.S. are tolled, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is especially convenient to pay the toll with the help of a special transponder which can be rented when renting a car. It is better not to take it for single payment, but to study the forthcoming route of the trip in advance and be prepared to pay in cash (it is possible in some places), or to pay by card at special sites on the Internet within a few days after the passage.

7. It is always a good idea to carry cash dollars in small denominations, as well as coins (especially in quarters) for minor expenses and payment at various automatic machines (for example, for pumping up the tire at the gas station). You may also need these to pay for gas if your bank card doesn’t work at the pump (sometimes you have to enter a validation zip code, which may not work).

8. 8. Always obey traffic rules, signs and markings, including stopping and parking, as well as commands given by a traffic controller or flagman.

9. To avoid a ticket, do not exceed the maximum speed limit by more than 5 mph. The fine for speeding in the U.S. varies depending on how much you exceed it, and can be quite high, up to several thousand dollars. Also never throw garbage out of the car through the window or on the side of the road, otherwise you may face a fine of $2,000 (fines vary from state to state).

10. When parking your car, be sure to consider what kind of interference you may cause to other road users and pedestrians, especially in unfamiliar areas. If necessary, ask your fellow passengers to get out and help you park properly. Observe the rules of parking, including on a sloping road. In large cities, don’t forget to pay in advance to park your car using a parking meter so that you don’t get a fine. You can always park for free near large shopping malls or near restaurants and cafes and fast food outlets. You can use http://www.bestparking.com/ to find free parking spaces in the city.

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11. In the U.S., there are quite a few wild animals (e.g., Grand Canyon Park) and grazing livestock near national parks and forests along the road. So if you see an appropriate warning sign, do not ignore it under any circumstances, but rather reduce your speed and focus your attention on the road and the environment around it. This is especially important at dusk, when visibility is already quite poor and raccoons and deer are still awake.

On the road be correct in relation to other road users and always let pedestrians pass (show special attention to children). Adhere to a smooth and relaxed driving style, let more maneuverable vehicles pass, as well as those who are in a hurry or drive aggressively. Reduce speed on poorly visible or densely populated areas of the road. Be aware of driving at night, in fog, rain or high winds, on mountain roads, and in heavy traffic.

13. On long climbs (such as in Death Valley), it is recommended to temporarily turn off the air conditioner, so that the engine does not overheat and pulls better. On descents, engine braking can be used to ease deceleration and avoid excessive brake overheating by forcing the engine to downshift, even with an automatic transmission.

Driving in the USA

A road through uninhabited terrain in the state of California

14. In small towns in the U.S., it is quite common to encounter intersections of level roads with a STOP sign and stop line before intersections. Be sure to stop and proceed if you do not have an obstruction on your right. Sometimes at fairly busy intersections of this type, the rule applies that the first to go is the one who has approached the intersection first. So be especially careful and if you are not sure about the traffic situation, it is better to stop once more.

15. A school bus in the United States requires special attention from other drivers. The most important thing to do when you stop when there is a stop sign is to stop, even if you are going in the opposite direction, and wait until all the students get on or get off and the bus starts again. You should always pay extra attention to schoolchildren rushing on or off the school bus and be sure to slow down near their congestion.

U.S. road trip by car

A school bus in the United States.

16. Always yield the right of way to cars with special lights and sirens, under all circumstances. If you are approached by a car with flashing lights, it is better to slow down, giving him the advantage, and if necessary, even pull over to the side of the road to let him pass.

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17. If you are tired on the road or need to go to the bathroom, then keep in mind that you can not stop on the car during the trip directly on the highway. You either have to drive to the nearest town or wait for the Rest Area (parking + restrooms + vending machines) or Service Area (which also has eateries and coffee shops like McDonald’s, Subway, and Starbucks, as well as a gas station).

18. If you are stopped by a police officer, sheriff or ranger, do not get out of your car, but stay in it and wait until he/she comes to your car. Be polite and comply with all the requirements of the patrolman unquestioningly: show your car documents and explain the purpose of your trip, if he asks. If you do not speak English well, tell the officer straight away so that there is no misunderstanding.

19. If you break the rules and you receive a fine, pay it as quickly as possible in one of three ways: in cash to the police officer, in an envelope by mail to the police department or online at the special website. Do not try to pay the fine on the spot or offer a bribe. That would be considered a serious violation of the law and you may even be sent to jail.

20. Always carry enough drinking water in your car, especially on a hot day. It is better to buy a whole pack at any supermarket and put it in the trunk just in case.

21. In some sparsely populated states the distances between gas stations can be quite considerable, so fill up a full tank and make sure you have at least half of the tank of gas left. That way you will save nerves and time. This advice is especially relevant to those who are going to travel by car through national parks in the United States.

US Road Trip

22. In the interest of your safety, never put random hitchhikers or hitchhikers in your car, and try to communicate as little as possible with strangers outside of populated areas.

23. Find out in advance what phone numbers to call in case your car breaks down or there is some trouble or an accident. They are usually listed in the rental agreement, but it is worth checking them out before you start your car trip. You can always call 911 for emergency help.

24. If you have an accident, breakdown or damage to your car, notify the rental company representative immediately.

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25. If you will be late for your trip and arrive at the hotel, call ahead and tell the manager and staff that you will be late to the hotel. Not all hotels have a 24-hour front desk, so it’s not unreasonable to make sure you don’t end up spending the night on the street.

  • Our 2018 Toyota Camry car rental experience in Los Angeles: http://paikea.ru/usa-car-rent-los-angeles/
  • Renting a car at NYC airport – what you need to know: http://paikea.ru/usa-car-rent-new-york/
  • Los Angeles hotels – review and recommendations: http://paikea.ru/hotels-and-apartments-in-los-angeles/

That concludes my tips for traveling in the U.S. by car. Have a safe trip and the most interesting experiences of your road trip across America, dear readers!

Tips for Planning a USA Road Trip

The United States Road Trip is one of the best ways to see the country, and the country itself is one of the best to drive through! If you’re planning a drive to the United States, look no further than the resources listed below – I cover everything you might need to know about preparing and planning the perfect trip.

Where to go: Heath City

Surveyed students listed their top 10 favorite American cities not too long ago – Jumpstart your idea with this list for some unmistakable student travel spots, including free things to do in places like Austin and Boston. You can also just go to the big city closest to you and say, in a dorm for the night.

Nowhere to stay? No friends there yet? No sweat – don’t go Couchsurfing and meet like-minded people while you sleep for free.

Where to go: Heath Beach.

Dr. Steven Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), reknowned author and professor of environmental studies in Florida, dishes out ragged goods each year on the best beaches in the U.S. and awards the sweet sand country with a coveted spot on his annual top ten list. Check your current list for where to go below:

  • Top Ten List – U.S. Best Beaches

Camping Go Cars

Car camp as easy and as close as possible to the nearest national forest, or even KOA. Pack up the car and hitch a ride for a weekend or all summer and discount campgrounds while you eat cheap, too. And the next road trip is as easy as packing the car and leaving camp.

Getting maps and guidebooks

U.S. maps will be crucial to planning your trip, the roads, whether you have paper copies or using Google Maps on your phone.Check out some great road trip guidebooks like Lonely Planet’s “Road Trip Route 66″ and the most scenic drives in America.”

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Find Food Best American Road

Do you want to see the real core of the country you are driving through? Drop the chain on the interstate and hit Main Street for cafes. It can take a while to find really good food, and TripAdvisor and Yelp will help you find your way. Try authentic restaurants and roadside cafes at any drive-in for a slice of Americana and apple pie. More information on how to find great road trip food:

Staying safe on the road

Traveling is as safe as you will make it, and traveling in the U.S. can be just as risky as traveling abroad if you’re not prepared – which is why I always say that traveling abroad is perfectly safe compared to staying at home. Some resources on staying safe on your road trip:

  • Student Travel Safety Review
  • Women’s travel safety tips
  • Hotel safety gadgets

Be prepared for Roadside emergencies

Apartments happen – don’t let them ruin the day unless you have backups (you will, though, right?) Be prepared with a travel club membership and get roadside emergency assistance or towing. AAA is easy, for less than $100 a year, and they also offerf hotels and rental car discounts plus car assistance; check with the gas company credit card, too – it could offer a car travel club benefits program and discounts. Look at the back of the card to find out.

Calculate your gas costs Caution

Gas costs are far from fixed, so you can save a lot by finding a cheap station. With a gas cost calculator, you can find the cheapest pumps in cities you’ll be passing through. Read more about this in the following article: How to calculate gas prices and your expensive commute costs

How to save money on road trips

Read my top 5 money saving road trip tips to learn how to save your budget while you’re on the road. Some of the basics include using a gas calculator (as listed above) and avoiding passing thrus and snacks while you’re traveling.

Find free Wi-Fi on the road

Finding Wi – Fi on the American road is fairly easy, depending on where you’re traveling. If you are in a major city or though, Starbucks and McDonald `s can always be guaranteed to have some. Also, you should be able to get cell service in most areas of the country. Download here maps in advance and cache the United States map – so you’ll be able to get directions even if there are no tower cells nearby.

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