Plan a road trip in West Coast USA
Everyone should go on a road trip to America once in their life. Why? Driving across this beautiful country allows you to reach some surreal places, most scenic roads, spectacular landscapes, and inspiring spots. The experiences and feelings like “wow, I can’t believe this place actually exists” and the time together with your travel buddy create memories for life!
Yet, planning a road trip can be a stressful task. So here are our 10 tips to plan a road trip in West Coast USA, which will make your road trip a wonderful experience:
Read also: West USA: the ultimate road trip itinerary
How to get in the West Coast USA?
Where to stay during your road trip in West Coast USA?
10 awesome tips to plan a road trip in West Coast USA
Do not over-schedule the itinerary for your West Coast road trip
Make a rough itinerary for your West Coast road trip but calculate enough time in National Parks like Yosemite or Grand Canyon. Some hiking trails in the National Parks on the West Coast require more time than you might think. We spend hours in Zion National Park as we were surprised by it’s beaty. Keep also in mind that unforeseen circumstances can always occur during your West Coast road trip such as a flat tire or road works. Try to relax and have fun…
Read also: 5 most beautiful hiking trails in West USA
Buy an Annual Pass for the National Parks on the West Coast
Making a road trip in West Coast USA can be expensive but you can save money by purchasing an Annual Pass for the National Parks on the West Coast in advance or at the entrance of the first park you visit. If you plan to visit more than 2 national parks, you best buy a National Parks Pass when entering the 1st park. This pass gives you access to each National Park, costs $80, and is valid for one year after issuance. The pass is valid for the driver + 3 adults in the same car. (Children aged under 16 are free)
Make sure you don’t run out of fuel during your road trip in America
Have enough fuel before you start your West coast road trip in America as you often don’t have that lot of petrol stations for a long time. If you see an exit with multiple gas stations, go get your gas here. Prices will be lower as there will be more competition.
Pre-book a guided tour for Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon
The Annual Pass is not valid in Monument Valley or Antelope Canyon. These parks are part of the Navajo Nation and home to Navajo families that have lived there for generations. Here you pay the entrance fee at the beginning of the park or you can pre-book a guided tour in advance or at the visitor center.
Book your rental car for your road trip in America in advance
Book your rental car, campervan or motorhome in advance so that you can be sure that all coverages and insurances are complete. Double-check if you are covered for liability, collision, and loss damage waiver. Renting a car in the West Coast is very popular and especially in the peak season, so we advise you to book in advance. We use often Skyscanner for worldwide rentals and SunnyCars (BE, NL) as they have 100% coverage.
Car size matters during a road trip in America
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your car, so don’t save on the size. In America, everything is big! Also the cars and their roads. Don’t worry that an SUV might be too big. As you will be covering more than 2500 miles, comfort is key.
Have a good travel insurance for your West Coast road trip
Don’t take unnecessary risks and make sure you have worldwide coverage. Travel insurance is really the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need for your West Coast road trip. You never know what could happen, and most health insurance plans don’t cover you enough when you travel. We are covered by annual travel insurance via Protections or another good option is the insurance of World Nomads.
World Nomads has a very handy travel insurance calculator and you can join their service while you are on the road.
Increase the limit of your credit card
Increase (temporarily) the limit of your credit card to have sufficient money reserve while you make a road trip in America. When you need medical assistance, you often have to pay on your behalf in advance to your insurance company. Even if you rent a car, a credit card in the name of the driver is mandatory. Last but not least, it gives you a much safer feeling than having lots of cash in your pocket during your vacation.
Inform you bank about your road trip in America
Book your hotels or campsites in the West Coast in advance
It’s a true story: the earlier you book, the cheaper! And more availability! A West Coast road trip is very popular and if you want to stay in the big cities or National Parks on the West Coast, it’s a good idea to book your accommodations in advance. Know that during the summer period it is very difficult to find campsites inside or nearby National Parks like Yosemite National Park or Grand Canyon. And it’s so worth booking a lodge or campground inside the parks, so you can enjoy the most incredible sunrises and sunsets while exploring the area and no longer taking account on your way back.
Update your own GPS or use Maps.me
to plan your road trip in America make sure you’ve update your own GPS or rent one from the car rental company. It’s very easy to download and update maps on your own GPS and it will save you a lot of money! We use Maps.me on our smartphone during our West Coast road trip and downloaded the West-USA map.
Read also: Our favorite 11 free travel apps
Travel essentials for a road trip in America
This are some of the best travel accessories that are essentials for a road trip in West coast USA. A travel guide to help you along the way and a Bluetooth speaker to play some real American country music.
Plan your West Coast road trip with our travel resources
As you know, we love to share all our best tips and favorite places with all of you. That’s why created all these online travel guides, which are completely free. If you found this post (or anything we do) useful, we’d be grateful if you buy something through one of our affiliate links in this article. We’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps us keep our travel blog alive.
Thank you so much for your support! x Valerie & Mik
- Skyscanner – to book the best and cheapest flights
- Airbnb – to stay at incredible homes & apartments
- Booking.com – to book your accommodation
- Lonely Planet – to purchase a detailed travel guide
- TourRadar – to join one of the amazing group tours
- TripAdvisor – to read the best reviews and find amazing tours
- HostelWorld – to book the most amazing hostels
- GetYourGuide – to book awesome tours and activities