Coast to Coast: How to Plan an Unforgettable Cross-Country Trip

Nothing kills a road trip more than getting stuck in some rush-hour traffic. If you’re going on a long road trip, you will want to avoid high-risk cities and states as well as extreme weather if possible. In this article, we will cover what locations have the highest traffic risks, what to avoid and how, and how to best plan for your next cross-country trip.

Worst Cities to Drive Through

Whether you are driving home from a short vacation or visiting family during the holidays, traffic is one of the hardest parts to deal with on vacation. Even during this pandemic, accidents are still happening. When planning out your trip, it’s a good idea to take a look at any possible problems and ways you can avoid them. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the deadliest cities in the United States to travel through and why you may want to avoid them if you can. From descending order, here are the 10 deadliest cities to drive through:

#10. Louisville, Kentucky

#9. Sacramento, California

#8. Cleveland, Ohio

#7. New Orleans, Louisiana

#6. Atlanta, Georgia

#5. St. Louis, Missouri

#4. Detroit, Michigan

#3. Dallas, Texas

#2. Savannah, Georgia

#1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Drinking while driving or driving distracted is the main cause of death for most major traffic accidents. This is why you will often find that driving during the day is safer than during the hours of 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. Rush-hour traffic and late-night drinking are the main reasons why these hours are the most dangerous to drive. It’s also much safer to travel on the weekdays (Monday through Thursday) than Friday nights and Saturdays and Sundays.

You will also find that car insurance is significantly higher in cities with higher traffic accidents and death. This is just something to keep in mind while planning your trip, as where you live and where you plan to go has an impact on your car and travel insurance. It also has an impact on your rates if you plan to use a car rental for your next family trip

The Best Interstate Highways to Drive

Choosing the right route for your trip is also as important as looking out for any traffic hotspots. There are several interstates that reach from one coast of the United States to the other. There are also many roads that can take you from Canada down to Mexico. Which interstate you will want to use just depends on where you plan on going.

The ideal interstate to travel on from coast to coast is Interstate 40. This road starts in Los Angeles, California and ends in Wilmington, North Carolina. This road is free of any major weather patterns for most of the year. In the winter you can find snow on some parts of the road in Arizona and New Mexico. You can also expect to see some tornado warnings crop up in the Midwest during tornado season. 

It is a very scenic route that passes through the Rocky Mountains and right by the Grand Canyon in case you want to take some detours while traveling. 

Interstate 80 is another route that cuts across most of the United States from one coast to another. This route starts in San Francisco, California and ends in New York City. The biggest concern for this route is snow in its northern parts during the winter. 

If you choose to drive it during the colder seasons, just be sure to check your weather forecast ahead of time. Also, be sure to pack your car full of any essentials for snow travel.

A common and popular route for you Northerners is Interstate 90. This route starts in Seattle, Washington, and ends in Boston, Massachusetts. It doesn’t necessarily reach across the United States from one side to the other because it joins Interstate 80 around the Great Lakes. Snow is also something you will need to look out for, as this interstate cuts through much of the Rocky Mountains, which are known for having snow on them most of the year. 

Interstate 10 is the best route to take if you want to avoid the snow all year round. This highway begins in Los Angeles, California and ends in Jacksonville, Florida. While it is great for avoiding the snow, it is also incredibly hot, with temperatures that often break the 100s. So while no snow prep is necessary, you will want to plan ahead for when passing through the desert in Phoenix, Arizona. 

How to Plan the Safest Trip

To start planning, you will need to know how to prepare your car for a road trip. For starters, be sure your car is up to specifications on maintenance. This includes checking your tires, the fluid levels on your car, and any mechanical issues that can break while on the road. You will also need to plan for the weather. Be sure to take a look at what items you need, both where you are going and in the areas you will be traveling through.

Plan for the Length of Your Trip

Depending on where you are heading, your trip can take anywhere from a few days to a whole week of travel. Make sure you plan for plenty of stops and determine where they will be. Book any hotels ahead of time and be sure to check the weather forecast in the places you are staying. You won’t just need provisions for the road. You will also need things like snow tires or extra clothing, depending on the season you are traveling in. 

Where to Stay

When planning where to stay, be sure to do your research. Check out the reviews and prices for nearby hotels. Also, be sure to check out any local restaurants or sites that you may want to see while staying. There is no harm in taking a little extra time while on the road to do some sightseeing. Often the best trips are the ones where you find unexpected gems along the way.

Best Season to Go on a Trip

Summer and spring are arguably the best times to travel. This can change depending on what your trip is for. You may need to travel during the fall if you are taking a vacation during the holidays. 

So long as you prep ahead of time and make sure you have whatever you need for when an emergency occurs, you can travel during any of the seasons. This of course doesn’t include natural disasters or bad weather conditions. As said before, always check your weather forecast and tune into the radio station for traffic updates.

What to See, Where to Go

There are the obvious locations to check out like a trip to the Grand Canyon or New York City. My best advice, though, is to look for those hidden things that are along the way when planning a trip. Simply stopping on the side of a highway to check out a monument or stopping by a local museum at the hotel you are staying at could become the unexpected highlight of your trip. 

Just be sure to keep some sort of log of the sites you see, like taking frequent photos or blogging about it. You will thank me later. 

Brennan Lingo writes and researches for the insurance comparison website, He is a freelance writer who spends time traveling both locally and internationally.

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