Our (COVID-19) Cross Country Road-trip

Ah, the Great American Roadtrip. It seems like a rite of passage for a wanderlust couple and with the promise of the whole summer off, we knew we had to take advantage of the time. That being said, even for someone who loves to plan, this one was a doozy. From finding places to sleep, to calculating costs, to finding the best things to do in each location- this plan took about 6 months to perfect. And what happens right when I have the ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime road trip planned? COVID-19. 

Because we had to change our plans, I’m going to include our actual road trip (with estimated costs) and our original plan. The COVID plan definitely has longer stints in the car (we wanted less exposure to major cities) and we cut out the southwest potion of our trip due to outbreaks. 

If you’re planning a trip- feel free to take any pieces of this plan and make it your own! There’s no rules when it comes to following an itinerary! Beg, Borrow and Steal these travel tips to safe yourself some time (and sanity!). 

Start in Connecticut on June Day 1 at 5am

Connecticut to Chicago Travel: 14 Hours

Arrive in Chicago at 6pm(ish)-  Time Zone Change

If you can’t/don’t want to take a 14 hour trip, I would suggest staying over for a night in Ohio. This gives you plenty of options in hotels and is a little more than halfway.

Chicago for 3 nights- We Stayed with Family (AirBnB would be my choice here if you don’t have a place to stay)

Leave Chicago Day 4 at 5am

Chicago to Badlands Travel: 11 Hours

Arrive in Badlands at 4pm Time Zone Change 

Badlands for 2 nights ($44- Camping in the park)

Badlands at Sunset

Leave Badlands Day 6 at 7am

Stops between Badlands and Helena: Crazy Horse/Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower

Badlands to Helena Travel: 12 Hours (with stops)

Arrive around 7pm (with stops)

Helena, Montana 1 night ($85- Comfort Inn)

Leave Helena Day 7 at 7am (ish)

Helena to Holland Lake (Montana) Travel: 2.5h 

Arrive around 10am (ish)

Holland Lake Campground

Holland Lake Campground- 2 nights ($40)

Leave Holland Lake Day 9 at 8am (ish)

Holland Lake to Seattle Travel: 9h 

Arrive around 5pm(ish) Time Zone Change 

Seattle for 5 nights (We stayed with a friend- I would consider AirBnB for such a long stay)

Leave Seattle Day 14 at 8am (ish)

Seattle to Tillicum Beach (Oregon) Travel: 5.5h 

Arrive around 2pm(ish)

Tillicum (Oregon Coast) 2 nights-($60- Tillicum Campground)

Leave Tillicum Day 16 at 8am (ish)

Seal Rock, Oregon

Tillicum Beach to Lowman, Idaho Travel: 10.5h 

Arrive around 8pm(ish) Time Zone Change

Lowman, Idaho for 2 nights ($250 AirBnB)

Leave Idaho Day 18 at 8am (ish)

Lowman to Yellowstone Travel: 6h 

Stops: Craters of the Moon National Park

Arrive around 5pm(ish) with stop

Yellowstone for 3 nights ($110- Grant Campground)

Leave Yellowstone Day 21 at 8am (ish)

Yellowstone to Dillon, CO Travel: 8h 

Arrive around 4pm(ish)

Dillon, CO for 2 nights ($60-Heaton Bay Campground)

Leave Dillon Day 23 at 8am (ish)

Dillon to Sante Fe, NM Travel: 5.5h 

Arrive around 2pm(ish)

Sante Fe for 2 nights ($275 AirBnB)

Sante Fe, NM

Leave Sante Fe Day 25 at 8am (ish)

*Sante Fe to Oklahoma City Travel: 8h 

Stops along the way- Route 66 stops and Texas BBQ in Amarillo

Arrive around 5pm(ish) Time Zone Change

*This wasn’t originally part of the plan- we had to cut out Austin, TX due to COVID-19 outbreaks in the city, while we were on the road. We’ll make it back there someday!

Oklahoma City for 1 nights ($80 Comfort Inn)

Leave Oklahoma City Day 26 at 8am (ish)

Oklahoma City to Memphis, TN Travel: 7h 

Arrive around 3pm(ish)

End of our trip! Although we didn’t make a full circle, we hung out in Memphis for a week with Shelly’s family before heading back to Connecticut. In case you’re a person who loves checking off boxes, I’ll tell you that after Memphis, we drove straight to Connecticut (about 21 hours!). That is a seriously long haul but we’re fairly experienced with those as we’ve done it a handful of times. 

Woo- okay so that was our marathon road trip month! Did we miss a must see in any areas? Tell us below! 

Check out some of our other articles to see what we did in each location, or how to plan your own road-trip! 

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