Driving Cross Country: For Next Time

(If you missed my last post, read it first.) After completing our cross country trip, we sat down and took some notes on what we’d change for next time. Surprisingly, they were mostly small things that we couldn’t have anticipated anyway.


We usually planned activities first and drove during the afternoon and evening. It would’ve worked out better to do the opposite. Since the kids didn’t get enough sleep at night, they were often tired and grouchy during the mornings. If we’d done the driving first, they’d have been able to nap before having to walk around. We stuck to all of our planned activities since most required tickets, but that did add some stress and gave less flexibility to our schedule.

next time
Everyone was super grouchy at the St. Louis Zoo. Good thing it was free!


In the future, I think we’ll always try for Airbnbs first, then hotel suites. Having 2 separate hotel rooms was no fun at all. The breakfasts we made ourselves were also a lot tastier than what we got at our hotels.

Overall Timing and Stops

We weren’t sure how long the driving would take when compared to GPS. It ended up taking about 25% longer, or 1 extra hour for every 3. This extra time allowed for stops of varying lengths. I’d tried planning stops every 3 hours, but that didn’t work out at all, so I learned to be okay with “winging it” after a while.

Many states advertised lots of attractions, but not all were worth stopping for. A quick Google search could tell me how far off the road they were and how expensive. We ended up stopping at places we hadn’t planned for, but they were well worth it. Next time, I think I’ll be more flexible instead of planning every single stop on the way.

next time
one of our random stops in Oakley, KS, at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center

Things We Forgot to Pack

I should’ve brought a book! I ended up with a lot more down time than I thought.

We should’ve brought 1 charger for every device. Some had to share chargers and didn’t get charged enough before the next day, which was really frustrating.

Final Regrets

Though we packed both sunscreen and bug spray, we didn’t use them enough. James and the kids were completely fine, but I got a painful sunburn that made traveling home more difficult than it needed to be. (When will I ever learn?!)


Driving from UT to NC with my family was a wonderful experience despite its challenges. Our planning made it a memorable, enjoyable trip, and these small changes will make next time even better!

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