10 things you need to know before planning a road trip in West USA

by suitcasestoriesbe
10 things you need to know before planning a road trip in West USA

A road trip in West USA

Everyone should go on a road trip to West USA 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 things you need to know before planning a road trip in West USA, which will make your road trip a wonderful experience:

Tip: if you are traveling solo or would like to join an organized trip, definitely check this website. They have really great adventure tours through the USA. Super cool!

Do not over-schedule your road trip itinerary for West USA

Take time to stay longer in National Parks like Yosemite or Grand Canyon and enjoy all the beauty that West USA has to offer. Keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances can always occur during your road trip in West USA such as a flat tire or road works. Try to relax and have fun…

Read also: West USA: the ultimate road trip itinerary

Yosemite Valley - 5 most beautiful hiking trails in West USA
Yosemite Valley Viewpoint

Buy an Annual Pass for the National Parks in West USA

Save money by purchasing an Annual Pass for the National Parks in West USA 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)

Western Usa national Park entrance
Monument Valley entrance gate
Bryce Canyon entrance sign
Bryce Canyon National Park entrance gate
Death Valley entrance sign
Death Valley sign

Make sure you don’t run out of fuel

Tank always sufficient before you hit the road, often you 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.

Gas station at Route 66
Gas station at Route 66
Gas station at Route 66
Old gas station at Route 66

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.

An amazing guided Monument Valley tour or admission tickets for Lower Antelope Canyon & Upper Antelope Canyon in advance.

5 most beautiful hiking trails in West USA - Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon
Monument Valley tour
Monument Valley viewpoint
West USA - Monument Valley viewpoint
Monument Valley viewpoint

Book your rental car for West USA 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 West USA 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.

Check here the best car or motorhome deals worldwide

Death Valley road trip West USA

Car size matters

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.

West USA Route 66 - Road trip
Kingsmen town - Route 66
Car in Kingsmen - Route 66
Vintage car in Kingsmen

Good travel insurance is not a luxury

Don’t take unnecessary risks and make sure you have worldwide coverage. Travel insurance is really the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need for your 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.

warning sign Yosemite National Park
warning sign Yosemite National Park

Increase the limit of your credit card

Increase (temporarily) the limit of your credit card to have sufficient money reserve. 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 trip

Las Vegas casino slot - Road trip West USA
Casino in Las Vegas

Book your hotels or campsites in advance

It’s a true story: the earlier you book, the cheaper! And more availability! A West USA road trip is very popular and if you want to stay in the big cities or National Parks, 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.

We use Booking.com most of the time because they have free cancellation options – check here the best deals on Booking.com
Or Hotels.com as they offer free nights – check here the best rates on Hotels.com

Zion Mountain Ranch
Zion Mountain Ranch
The Saguero Hotel, Palm Springs

Update your own GPS or use Maps.me

Update your own GPS instead of renting one. It’s very easy to download and update maps on your GPS and it will save you a lot of money! We downloaded Maps.me on our smartphone and used the West-USA map.

Read also: Our favorite 11 free travel apps

West USA: road trip itinerary
Zion Mountain Ranch lodge- West USA road trip
Zion Mountain Ranch Lodge

Now you’ve read the 10 things you need to know before planning a road trip in West USA, you might be ready to go. Following websites can help you plan the perfect trip:

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