The idea of a Cross Country Road Trip excites most Road Trip Planners because there's something appealing about the open road...it beckons. Instead of exploring one state in depth, going cross country allows for a teaser taste of many states. Finding the balance between hitting as many states as possible and "enjoying the ride" can be somewhat relative, to be sure, but even with a cross country objective, quality still trumps quantity... best to see less in focus than more in a blur from the highway.
How much time you set aside for this trip greatly impacts the total mileage you'll put on the odometer, as does the number of people in your car. Couples can drive further than families because children just get too antsy to sit still for long periods of time (DVDs iPods notwithstanding). A group of friends can probably cover the most distance because they can drive through the night and switch drivers every four hours while others sleep ( save on hotel costs to boot).
Okay...now to the TOP 5 CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIPS that every Road Trip Planner should try, David Letterman style:
#5 - THE GREAT RIVER ROAD (10 states - 2300 miles): American travelers do so love nostalgia and meandering alongside the great Mississippi River from bow to stern in a manner reminiscent of Mark Twain's riverboat days gets many road trip planners excited about all the possibilities. What's fun is skirting along the edges of two states to follow the river. The Mississippi River is much more romanticized than the Missouri River, which is actually the longest river in the U.S. This route could be much shorter (1500 miles) if you plotted the more direct route between the headwaters and the mouth...you decide just how closely you want to follow the river. Just make sure you don't miss experiencing the Mississippi River from a riverboat Driving a UHaul .
#4 - SOUTHERN COMFORTS (8 states - 3000 miles): This cross country road trip allows road trip planners to blend in variety and spice to their trip! Here's where you'll experience the good ol' southern hospitality in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, the Cajun flavors of Louisiana, get a taste of the Texas BBQ, the southwestern spices found in New Mexico, Arizona and the laid back atmosphere of southern California. US-80 will take you through the bulk of this trip which offers more varied cultural experiences than you're likely to get in any other U.S. cross country trip. And the variety is not limited to the cultural differences from town to town but the surrounding landscape which rolls from one type of terrain into another. You start (or end) at the white-sand- clear-blue-sky beaches of San Diego, through the cacti-dotted southwestern desert, travel along the plains and into the Deep South cotton lands and plantations. While some travelers are drawn to the green and serene found in a Northern cross-country road trip, many others revel in the South's variegated russet-colored landscapes and straight highways stretching before them like the backbone of America disappearing into the horizon in a purple haze.
#3 - THE OREGON TRAIL (11 states - 3200 miles): This road trip is for road trip planners who want to go the distance while traveling a goodly portion along a historic route. You start (or end) out from the wild Oregon coastline, travel through increasingly diverse terrain, to - and through - dense urban populations and finish by the serene waters of Cape Cod. The Oregon Trail is known best as the migration trail pioneers embarked upon when America was young. Of course, you're not traveling by wagon train so you don't need to set aside four to six months just to traverse the 2,000 mile section they followed (Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska-Wyoming-Idaho-Oregon). In fact, you could comfortably do this road trip in less than 3 weeks (if you rent a car fly back). The main route you'll follow here is US-20 where you get to hit some truly gorgeous places like Niagara Falls and Yellowstone Park.