American Roadtrip Holidays – Welcome to the ultimate guide

Everyone knows that cats are naturally afflicted by a sense of wanderlust. For a curious cat like me, it’s an itch that tickles my adventurous spirit. It’s that relentless yearning to roam, to wander beyond the familiar, and to dance with the unknown. What better way to satisfy your feline urges for adventure than a good ole fashioned American roadtrip holiday? 

Movies like Into the Wild, The Motorcycle Dairies, and About Schmidt gave us a glimpse of the beauty of the wide, open road. As Hollywood has taught us, a well-executed roadtrip is more than just pretty pictures, it’s a way to learn about ourselves. After all, there is nothing more contemplative than an empty road and open space.

You may be wondering how you can experience one of those great American roadtrip holidays. I have good news – it’s easier than you think. 

American Roadtrip Holidays - Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Badlands National Park in South Dakota

Get started – pick your theme

Everyone has unique likes and dislikes. One of the greatest joys of roadtripping is that you can design your experience for your preferences. New to this style of travel? Here are a few themes to consider: 

National Parks

America’s National Parks are popular tourist destinations for a reason. They are flat-out fantastic. The more parks you visit, the more you’ll appreciate the uniqueness of each. Traveling throughout the national park system is adventurous, beautiful, and sometimes challenging.

Whether you are hiking through the Badlands in South Dakota or exploring the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest you are sure to be surprised and delighted by what mother nature has to offer. This is a great theme for those who are outdoorsy, active, and have a medium to high tolerance for crowds. 

Coastal drives

American Roadtrip Holidays - Highway 1 in California
View from Highway 1 in California

Having spent most of my adult life on the west coast, I am partial to the California coastline, however, the east coast has some amazing nature to offer as well.

Coastal roadtrips provide plenty of beauty, unbeatable weather, fun activities, and laid-back towns full of art, wine, and delicious seafood. This is a great trip for those who want to pair a dash of culture with their outdoor adventures. 

The Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas)

One of the most popular spots for roadtripping in America, this part of the country has dramatic rock formations, stunning sunsets, and a wide, open landscape that will force you to ponder the meaning of life. This area is best visited in the winter months (November – March). This is an excellent trip for those who are interested in history and culture, outdoor activities, and access to urban comforts.  

The Northern Mountain States (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho)

Glacier National Park in Montana
Glacier National Park in Montana

This area is the perfect complement to the Southwest and is best visited in the summer months (May-September). In addition to some major National Parks, you’ll find plenty of state and regional parks to explore the stunning mountains, rivers, lakes, and valleys.

This is the least populated area of the country and is covered in untouched wilderness. This is the perfect theme for those who want to be in nature without the crowds. 

Plan your American Roadtrip Holiday

Executing a great trip is always a delicate balance between thinking ahead and living in the moment. After experiencing both ends of the spectrum, I’ve developed my own method of providing enough structure for comfort but also leaving room for the unexpected. 

Research the logistics

If you are going to spend any time planning, I’d suggest using it on travel logistics. With just a little bit of legwork, you can save a lot of money and create amazing travel experiences.

For hotels, my go-to platforms are Airbnb,, and Hipcamp. One helpful tip is always to use the “map view” when picking out your accommodations. It’s also worth expanding your radius a little bit, as you can sometimes find off-the-beaten-path options on Airbnb that will uplevel your entire trip. Don’t forget to look to create and use travel reward accounts as well. I like to use Airbnb’s partnership with Delta to earn miles when booking accommodations online.  

If you are traveling to a new region, you may also need to look up flights and rental cars. For flights, I always look at Google Flights and Hopper. For cars, I start with Turo and Outdoorsy and then go to the major rental companies, if needed. When searching for a standard rental, I use Travelocity

Make a list of things to do

I generally spend a maximum of 30 minutes googling my destination. Some of my main resources are TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, and local websites. I jot down every interesting activity I see and then organize them by area. I try to only skim information to save time but also to allow an element of surprise upon arrival. When it’s time to explore, I simply pick an area and start trying out activities.  

Saguaro National Park in Arizona
Saguaro National Park in Arizona

Don’t forget about food

While my attitude towards daily activities is pretty laissez-faire, I have to admit that putting some thought into a nice meal, can make a huge difference in your trip. My go-to site is Yelp, but it’s also worth asking the locals as well. 

Depending on where you go, however, you may not have access to very many restaurants. In this case, one of my favorite things to do is a fancy picnic. At even the most basic grocery store, you can always find a variety of cheese, meat, olives, fruit, nuts, and other snacks. Grab what inspires you and then dump it all onto a cutting board for a no-prep, charcuterie-themed, outdoor feast.

Conclusion on planning your great American roadtrip holiday

Now that you’ve picked your region and drafted a plan, it’s time to hit the road. You are about to enjoy the first of many great American roadtrip holidays! 

Read Next: Check out some of me and Cal’s best American roadtrip experiences: 

  1. California – the gold rush town of Sonora
  2. Washington State – Olympic National Park
  3. South Dakota – Badlands National Park
  4. Alaska – Homer, a unique seaside village
  5. Montana – Glacier National Park

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