Road trip across the USA... boring?
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Mar 2, 2013 10:43 AM Last Post By: zeldasdad
Jul 12, 2012 2:58 AM
Road trip across the USA... boring?Hey guys,
A few years back I took a road trip across Europe and it was awesome, so... I figured I could do something similar across USA!
I've got an entire month (august 2012) so I was thinking about a full coast-to-coast drive with my girlfriend.
So, in order to do some research, we bought a "USA Road Trips" guidebook covering the different main routes: Route 66, Pacific Highway, Great River Road, Appalachian Trail, etc. You know the drill: local towns along the way, landmarks of interests, cities, natural parks, etc...
Unfortunately, as I was reading through the book, most of the routes seem a bit... uneventful? devoid of interest? dare I say boring?
Of course, I've pinned a few points of interest on the map: the Grand Canyon, the giant redwood tree groove, playing some poker in Las Vegas, the Utah desert landscapes, the Yosemite national park, the San Francisco bay, Chicago, etc. However, as a whole, 90% of the ride would seem rather dull.
The reason as of why I say that is because, no matter what route I pick, most of what I read about in the guidebook describe dozy towns, sparsely populated rural areas, silly tourist traps like "the world's biggest dinosaur-themed fun park" (literally!), etc.
As a result, we're beginning to grow some doubts about the whole thing: is it worth to drive around for 5,000 miles just to find a fistful of interesting hot spots? I mean, Europe was a fantastic place to cruise around, but is the US a suitable country for a long-haul drive?
Has anyone of you taken a coast-to-coast road trip? did you find it "uneventful" after all?
Thank you very much in advance for your feedback!
Jul 12, 2012 4:44 AM
1If you aren't able to appreciate the contrasts, the vastness, the isolation and the joy of stumbling across an old fashioned diner in a slightly run down town in the middle of nowhere, then yes, you'll find most of it boring. Me, I could spend my life doing it. I guess it depends on where you're from. The novelty of all that space, the empty highways and endless horizons are a breath of fresh air to some one who lives in the south of england and spends hours in traffic each week.
Jul 12, 2012 5:06 AM
2I would think that to make a road trip interesting you have to design it around your interest. I guess it is possible to find someone who has done a route that has exactly the same interest that you do, but I would think that is pretty rare. For instance, your item of playing poker in Las Vegas would have no appeal whatsoever to me, however a month spent visiting National Parks in the Mountain West would sound like heaven.
In short, if you want a road trip that will be interesting to you, design your own around your interest. As to comparing driving the US to Europe. The US is much more spread out. In most of Europe distances between towns and cities is short. There are lots of reasons for this which frankly I don't feel like spending the time writing out. This is one reason that in the US folks fly rather than taking the train.
On top of all of that. Some people are destination people and some are journey people. In the US a road trip is about enjoying the journey. If you just want to hop from destination to destination then you fly. My wife is a destination person, I am a journey person. Neither one is better, just different.
Edited by: StanInMaryland
Jul 12, 2012 5:34 AM
3Depends on what you consider 'boring'.
If city-hopping, meeting thousands of people from all over the world in hostels, bar-crawling at night and seeing 1,000-year-old buildings, museums and such during the day are your thing, a road trip across the US will bore you to tears.
If vast landscapes and barely touched nature on a grand scale are more to your liking, the US certainly delivers, especially the western half. You can get some history in, too, it's just shorter and the distances between spots are much longer.
Jul 12, 2012 5:48 AM
4I cant reply regarding specific information for the US, however I can offer info based on my experience in australia. I have driven the many k's around remote australia including crossing the nullabor. While there may not be much out there, that in it self is part of the experience. We explored some of the side tracks, camped out under the stars, ate in the slow random petrol stops. its all part of it.
you can make an adventure out of anything.
I think for some of these types of places the guide book wont be of all that much help, rather just seeing whats down this track or around that corner and exploring will lead to the experience and highlights of a trip.
i'd say go for it, but that might just be me.
Jul 12, 2012 6:16 AM
5If 'dozy towns, sparsely populated rural areas and silly tourist traps' don't appeal to you, then I suspect you would be better flying between points of interest and doing shorter road trips - i.e. fly to Vegas and do the rounds of Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, etc. Fly to San Francisco and drive to Yosemite etc. I've done long road trips in Australia and enjoyed them but having seen my share of dozy, sparsely and silly, nowadays I'm more about getting to the interesting bits faster.
Jul 12, 2012 7:12 AM
6Welcome to Thorn Tree.
What you said.
It would be most helpful for us if you told us what would be "eventful" or "interesting?" If you are expecting to repeat your road trip through Europe, I would suggest that you repeat your road trip through Europe.
How about some specifics?
Try a different guide book. There are hundreds if not thousands of them. You may also use the search feature here. Your question turns up about once a day here.
5000 miles, 8050 Km, is a "short" road trip here. Yes it is worthwhile if you want it to be. If you don't want it to be worthwhile, it won't be. It is up to you. A lot of people come here to experience a place where you CAN'T cross five international borders in 50 miles. As I said, we aren't Europe. (THANK GOD!) Yes, the distances are vast. If that puts you off, it is your loss.
Jul 12, 2012 7:54 AM
Jul 12, 2012 8:03 AM
8It seems like so many visitors to the US have these grand ideas to take gigantic road trips covering the entire USA, which is really absurd actually, as few Americans take 2-3 months to see the entire country via car, they visit the areas of the country, one vacation at a time for the most part.
The main problem is for road trips, is getting between all these places takes time, and also the majority of it is on top notch interstate, but its these same roads that are just endless highways thru vast nothing, consisting of truck stops, cheap hotels, fast food and rest stops as far as the eye can see. The best way to enjoy a region, for the most part, is the side roads, the two lane rural roads, the coastal roads and mountain roads, not the Interstates, which are great for moving commerce or getting from one city to the next in a easy manner with little resistance and obstacles.
You can drive straight thru from Chicago to New York City in 12 hours, or you can take 5 days visiting small towns, national parks, state parks, national forest, historic towns, cultural highlights, styaing in Cleveland for a ball game, rock n roll museum, Pittburgh for more of the same, and even go off the path to Gettysburg Civil war battlefields and then hit Philly for 2-3 nights.
This applies to all of America, whether driving from NY to Florida, Chicago to New Orleans, LA to San Fran, Denver to Vegas, Wash DC to St Louis.
You need to focus in each area, and then decide what to do in each area, as well as what areas to skip over, and fly around or over them. The Rt 66 idea is best left in the 60's, forget about it. There are only a few minor sections worth anytime if at all.
As for the areas that are great to discover in America, for both nature, culture and contrast of lifestyles, all depends on what you define as interesting. You could fly into NYC and spend a week there alone, train to Philly for 2 days, then train to Boston or bus, then after this city, get a car and drive up the coast and do a huge loop of old New England towns and national and state parks.
You then could train, fly or drive to Wash DC via the Appalachian mountains, in addition to civil war battlefields and historic towns in Virginia, W Virginia, North/South Carolina, you have Bluegrass country, more national parks and state parks and huge swaths of forest, before you even get to DC/Baltimore areas, which are another week of sight seeing easy.
You can go from there to the barrier islands of North Carorlina, historic towns on the sea like Charleston, Savannah, in addition to Kiawah island, Hilton Head Island and others. You could to the interior of the region to the Smokey Mountains, all the way to the whiskey trail in Kentucky and Tennessee, as well more national & state parks that would take weeks to enjoy.
Now that is just 20% of the US.
Get my drift...Driving Interstates west of the Mississippi is boring as hell all the way to Denver, if you go south its boring all the way to Grand Canyon, if you go north, its boring all the way to Yellow Stone....
The best areas to drive in America, on two lane roads and rural roads, and costal roads, are the east Coast, Mid Atlantic, Mid South, Rockies/Utah/Yellowstone, and the entire west coast, especially from just north of LA to Seattle.
If you can locate on YouTube the National Geographic film, Americas National Parks, and you visited all of the ones featured, you would have a trip of a life time.
This weekend for example, I am going here from Chicago up Lake Michigan.
Directly across Lake Michigan we were here two weeks ago.
You can take a ferry between them across Lake Michigan from Sheboygan WI to Luddington MI. Do this when driving 94, bypassing Chicago if you dont like big cities...
But good luck getting a decent rate on a one way car rental from one coast to the other coast....
Jul 12, 2012 9:54 AM
9"boredom is a matter of choice not of circumstance"
My European friends all comment on how far it is to cities here. Yes, there is a lot of space with next to nothing. But there are areas of the country where areas of interrest is more consetrated.
My most memorable experiences in traveling were the people I met and the strange situations I found myself in. I am sure you can find places in this country that will fascinate you.
Jul 12, 2012 10:24 AM
10Natural beauty and history is what the continent is really about. We have only a few hundred years of American History to fit in such a large landscape. When I drove I took the southern route and loved the drive through Amish counrty in PA, the Blue Ridge Parkway through VA, exploring Charlotte, visiting family in ATL, finding some cool museums in Birmingham AL, of course doing Graceland, taking the waters in Hot Springs, AR, then going west, visiting more family in ABQ, and on to see the typical attractions in that direction. All the while appreciating the changing landscapes, interesting people, and little cultural spots.
Jul 12, 2012 10:32 AM
11America is a big country, its also mostly agri business and farming outside of its mountains, desserts, national parks and deep forest. Its also a new country, the EU is over 1000 years old, the USA was built in the last 100 years as far its linking all coast and cites via a highway. You also can take trains all over EU, but un America, its choice of transport is the automobile. EU is also very compact and crowded in comparison to USA, Americans like space, and live in sprawling suburbs outside the major cities.
So its not even apples and apples, so dont compare the EU to America, anymore than EU to Asia.
You want to come and enjoy America, focus on the areas that interest you, you could spend a month just exploring California and the national parks of the west/southwest, doing a huge loop. Next time you visit America, enjoy the east coast.
I think driving across America in month is not a good idea, there is too much to see and enjoy, and it would be boring for many areas as far as the views from the highway goes, especially away for the mountains and coastlines...
If this too boring for you, I dont know what to tell you, maybe head to Costa Rica and surf endless beaches for a month, or go to China, you will not scratch the surface, all via trains.
Jul 12, 2012 11:12 AM
12I think you should definitely rethink this plan and focus your attention on one part of the country. Coast to coast in one month, you won't get to see much. Decide what is more important to you (must-sees, types of activities) and then choose a region accordingly. Start in LA and do the west coast or start in NY and do the east coast, for example. Then buy the guide book for that region instead of that road-trip book you have that I'm guessing has infos about pretty much everywhere in the US and none in particular.
If the idea of drving for long hours and looking at the scenery is boring to you then, yes, the trip you want to do will be boring.
Jul 12, 2012 2:31 PM
13I will admit that I would find a cross-country road trip somewhat boring too. There are lots of road trips you can take in the U.S. that are are through mostly developed and interesting areas, but going across from one end to the other means many many miles of not-so-interesting stuff. What about taking a road trip up and down one of the coasts?
Jul 12, 2012 8:49 PM
14I'll concur that literally cross country road trips are pretty dull (try driving across southern Illinois without falling asleep at the wheel...). Much better is to pick an interesting area of the country and do a shorter trip. Some examples:
California loop - San Francisco, Redwoods, Napa/Sonoma, Yosemite, Highway 1, Los Angeles, etc.
Pacific Northwest - Portland, Seattle, Crater Lake, Olympic, etc.
Southwest loop of Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, etc.
Rocky Mountain and Great Plains parks - Yellowstone, Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Badlands, Black Hills, etc.
New England - Boston, coastal Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont mountains, etc.
Alaska loop - Kenai Fjords, Denali, Valdez, etc.
If you find those boring, I think you're beyond help and should stay home and watch TV.
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