Road trip tips

This page is about the tips and tricks we’ve learnt along the way, that we wish we knew at the start, and which have helped us drive across the US. We will keep adding to the page as we find out more!

  • If you can, I would recommend using the Routes and Highways, rather than the Interstates. They may take a little longer but they’re much less busy and without the abundance of huge trucks taking up the lanes. The road conditions are usually much better, they’re much more scenic, and you often stumble across lovely little towns or vistas that you would other miss on the Interstate.
  • The condition of the roads in the US are, by and large, terrible. On the east coast it is particularly apparent, and mostly due to the freezing conditions during winter. So do be careful when travelling across them (especially if you’re on a motorbike), because they really are awful.
  • Most Walmarts will allow you and your RV to stay in their parking lot overnight for free.  You can check which ones allow you to do this on their website.
  • Look out for trucker stops, which also allow overnight parking, and are usually free, and often have showers and 24 hour diners.
  • We actually stayed in Rest Areas overnight on numerous occasions, without being moved on by security. They’re well lit and can be a good place to stay if you’re desperate (which, sometime, we were!)
  • Allstays website is really helpful when figuring out where to stay – from campsites, to trucker stops, to Walmarts. People helpfully give their experiences staying at various locations, and the ease with which you can stay there in a camper.
  • Whilst this is a grey area, in American law, due to the 2007 financial crisis – some people lost their homes and had to live in their cars.  The federal government deemed it unconstitutional that some states and cities had laws in place making it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles.  The best way to find a safe place to park up for the night is ask a local cop.
  • AutoZone will analyse any service engine soon light on any car for free. They will also check you battery and charge it for free.
  • Always carry cash on you to pay for toll roads. There were loads of toll roads when we were further east, and on more than one occasion we didn’t have the cash, and they don’t take cards. We had to pay anything from a few bucks to $16.
  • OR, another alternative is to get an E-ZPass. This little device sticks to your windscreen (on the inside) , and is linked to your bank account. You go through the tolls and the money automatically comes out of your account, so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash on you all the time. Apparently it also ends up being cheaper.
  • Some states allow right turns on a red light – we haven’t chanced it yet, but be aware.
  • Some states require you to put your headlights on when using the windscreen wipers during rain.
  • Some states (like Indiana) don’t sell alcohol on a Sunday!
  • Look out for free camping in state / national parks. They often let you stay there from anything between 5 days, to 2 weeks. If not, the state campsites are usually much cheaper than independently run campsites / RV parks.