The United States is a big country and planning a USA road trip can seem a bit overwhelming, even for people like us who once lived in the states. However, rather than one giant road trip USA, we have broken our USA adventure into small segments. Whether it’s big cities or small towns, road trips or single destinations, on each visit to the states we explore somewhere new.
Our road trip USA highlights
This page is segmented via the US Census Bureau statistical regions. With each of the regions, we highlight our favourite destinations and road trips. Between us, we have lived in all four regions at one time in our lives.
Which is the best way to take a USA adventure: self-drive or take a tour?
Being born and raised in the USA, I am personally very comfortable travelling on my own. However, without a tour, we miss the history and fascinating stories that a good guide can offer. Here is information on each option so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Take a tour of the USA
Tours are the ideal way to see America for people who are not comfortable in places they don’t know, or who don’t have the skills, the time, or the desire to build their own itinerary. There are so many destination choices for a road trip USA and it can be overwhelming.
Plus, tours not only have someone else doing the driving, but they also provide history and make sure you don’t miss the key sights. Based on our personal favourite USA adventure, our style of comfort, and Intrepid’s stellar reputation, we recommend the two tours just below. Both start in Seattle with the same initial 19 days, the second one adding an additional week to explore some of the stunning National Parks.
Seattle to Las Vegas tour:
This 19-day tour covers the best of the West. It starts in Seattle, hits highlights including Mt. Rainer National Park, Oregon coastal cities, Redwoods National Park, Mendocino, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. All nights are spent in hotels.
⇒ See tour details and pricing (19-day Seattle to Las Vegas option)
Seattle to Las Angeles tour
This 28-day tour starts in Seattle, following the same initial 19 days as the tour above. Then, it continues from Los Vegas adding Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Parks, before ending with two nights in Los Angeles. It includes 26 nights in hotels and one night in a cabin.
⇒ See tour details and pricing (28-day Seattle to Los Angeles option)
Self-driving in the USA
Traffic laws fluctuate between the states, making driving in the USA interesting. Some states encourage right turn on red, while in other states it is illegal. Same with u-turns, speed limits, and other day-to-day driving guidelines. As a result, knowing the rules can be confusing. Although, regardless of the state, Americans drive on the right side of the road and the steering wheel is on the left.
International visitors must have a valid driver’s license from their own country to drive in the states. In addition, some states also require an International Driving Permit (IDP). Contact the motor vehicle department of each state you will drive in for its requirements.
Taking a rental car over state lines is not a problem; although, crossing into Canada or Mexico is nearly always prohibited in the rental agreement.
Since we discovered RentalCars.com, we have been using them without incident. We simply enter our starting and ending cities, dates, and car preferences (compact, SUV, etc) and we are presented with a list of options comparing cars, providing local dealer ratings, and the drop-off fee.
⇒ Compare rental car prices at RentalCars.com
Two of our road trip USA maps
Road Trip USA Driving Tips
- The USA is a litigious society. Personally, I wouldn’t drive a car in the states without carrying liability insurance. If you don’t already have auto insurance, you can get it when you rent your vehicle.
- One thing is certain, on a USA road trip there are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the way. However, we always seem to be hungry during those rare hours when there are none. Therefore, we always carry some road trip food.
- We have always done self-driving in the USA, often flying between major regions, as the USA is very large. We use CheapFlights to find the lowest cost flight options.
Travel light. You won’t regret it. If you need help figuring out what to bring, we will send you a copy of our packing light checklist when you sign up for our mailing list.
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More USA Adventure Tips
- Non-USA citizens often require a visa obtained in advance. Check here to see entry visa requirements.
- Just about any visit involving the US medical system is outrageously expensive. We don’t set foot into the USA with travel insurance that includes medical coverage. You never know what is going to happen when you travel. As a family, we have had to visit emergency rooms in Argentina, Bonaire, Germany, Samoa, and the USA.
⇒ Click here to get a travel insurance quote from World Nomads
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Disclaimer: We worked with several of the local tourism boards as we travelled in the USA, as well as many individual venues and hotels on much of our USA adventures featured on this page. We are frequently offered media rates or provided with complimentary entrances, meals, transportation, and/or accommodations. However, we do not let this influence our writings. The opinions here are strictly our own.