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Planning a Road Trip the Summer Before College: 3 Essential Trips

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The open road awaits you.

The open road awaits you.

A road trip is the perfect way to spend quality time with your friends before you all leave for college. When planning a road trip, there are three trips to consider for the ideal experience, depending on how much time you have and your budget.

1. Cross-Country Road Trip: This classic American road trip crosses the entire country, from coast to coast. It's the kind of road trip that should be on every bucket list, so why not check it off before you head to college?

A good friend of mine recently went on a road trip from Connecticut to Los Angeles right after she graduated from college. Her advice was to add places to your route that you wouldn't usually visit; you never know what they'll be like until you experience them yourself. One of her favorite stops was in Memphis, Tennessee. She visited Elvis's Graceland and told me that it's an essential stop when planning a road trip — and she's not even an Elvis fan!

2. Route 66 Road Trip: Route 66 is known as the "Main Street of America" and stretches from Chicago, Illinois, all the way to Santa Monica, California. From start to finish, Route 66 is 2,448 miles long, crossing eight states and three different time zones.

Since my dad's family is from Saint Louis, he has traveled on Route 66 plenty of times. According to him, an essential stop is the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which is a massive steel bridge that arcs over the Mississippi River by Saint Louis. He also wouldn't stop talking about the frozen custard from Ted Drewes. But my dad's best advice for a road trip is not to plan everything — let some things happen spontaneously. Take an exit just because, or stop at a museum if you see a sign for it, because that's what a road trip is all about: spontaneity.

3. Budget-Friendly Road Trip: If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, consider planning a road trip for just a day or two. The summer after my senior year, my friends and I wanted to go on a road trip but couldn't afford a big trek, so we planned a day trip to Dorney Park, an amusement park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was only a few hours away, but we still made a fun playlist and stopped at a dive-y diner on the way back. You could drive to the next state over, or to a beach that's a few hours away. Find a landmark that's within 100 miles — anything that gets you out of your town.

Whether you decide to go across the country or across your state, a road trip is an essential life experience. Hopefully these ideas inspire you to start planning your own road trip before you hit the books — all it takes is a little bit of planning, some gas money, and an appetite for adventure!

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