Vegas Bound: 2021 Cross Country Road Trip Plans

*by Whitney*

We can’t believe this time of year has come around again already! We are gearing up for our third annual cross-country road trip, traveling from home in Virginia, to Las Vegas for the Healthcare Traveler’s Conference (TravCon), and back to Virginia!

We did this for the first time in 2019 and attended our first ever TravCon that year. That trip was one of our favorite trips of all time, as it was the first time we really got to see a significant portion of our country! Since we had only taken travel PT contracts on the east coast, neither of us had ever driven across the country before, and had only each been on flights to a couple states out west in our childhoods.

Since the 2019 road trip was such a hit, we planned an even bigger road trip in 2020! Unfortunately the conference ended up getting cancelled due to COVID last year, but we decided to do the road trip anyway and kept our hotel reservations in Vegas. Last year’s road trip was also unique because we purchased a mini-van, removed the back seats, and equipped it for the road trip so we could van camp many of the nights. This was quite the adventure, although after an extensive 8 weeks of traveling all around the country, half of which was spent in the van, I was personally done with it, ha!

So this year the conference is back on, and we have planned a little less “robust” cross-country trip, which will be about 5-6 weeks, with less overall and more time at each stop. We will be traveling in the van again, but we plan to work in more frequent stops at Airbnbs, hotels, and friends’ houses, to make the experience a little easier with built in “creature comforts.”

Like last year, we plan to van camp mostly at free camp sites, such as national forest lands, free campgrounds, and stores that allow overnight parking when we are in more urban/suburban areas (like Walmart or Cracker Barrel). Also like last year, we plan to make stops at Planet Fitness locations on some van days for showers and quick workouts. Hopefully, unlike last year, Planet Fitness locations will actually be open, including having their locker rooms/shower facilities open. Sadly last year on our trip, a big limiting factor was in some states due to COVID restrictions, either the gyms would be closed altogether or the showers were off limits. This made us have to “rough it” a little more in terms of our van camping experience! I’ve got my fingers crossed we’ll have more frequent showers, laundry, and real beds on this trip!

But aside from a few logistical concerns with the van life, we are extremely excited to head out on this trip! Traveling across our beautiful country is a very special experience! We plan to travel through about 19 states, including 3 of the 4 US states we have not been to yet (Iowa, Nebraska, and Louisiana), which will leave only Alaska that we will have not been to yet after this trip! We also plan to visit about 11 National Parks, including 8 new ones, putting our total at 48/63 of the US National Parks! We are excited to explore many things along the way from big cities, to small towns, to National Parks, and many other beautiful outdoor areas!

Along the way, we hope to meet up with several of our friends, fellow travelers, and travel recruiters! We are also very excited to attend our second TravCon and meet many more travelers there!

Below is a general outline of our planned itinerary for this trip. However, we are leaving things a little open ended and plan to make adjustments as we go. We are very open to suggestions from you if you have any ideas for places we should visit and things to see/do/eat/drink along this general route! To be honest, we have been a bit rushed on planning this itinerary since just returning from 3 busy months in Hawaii, so we are going to be making plans and adjustments during our driving times!

Check out our loose itinerary below, and let us know if you have a suggestion along the route/in these general areas!

General Itinerary (FLEXIBLE):

Sunday Sept 5th:

  • Leave Home (Virginia)
  • Arrive at New River Gorge National Park

Monday Sept 6th:

  • New River Gorge National Park
  • Stop around Dayton, OH

Tuesday Sept 7th:

  • Indiana Dunes National Park

Wednesday Sept 8th:

  • Indiana Dunes to Iowa
  • Stop in Iowa City, IA

Thursday Sept 9th:

  • Iowa to Nebraska
  • Stop in Omaha, NE

Friday Sept 10th:

  • Nebraska to Wyoming
  • Stop in Cheyenne, WY

Saturday Sept 11th:

  • Wyoming to Colorado
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday Sept 12th:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Mon-Tues Sept 13-14th:

  • Glenwood Springs, CO

Wednesday Sept 15th:

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP

Thur-Fri Sept 16-17th:

  • Colorado (Open/unsure what part)

Saturday Sept 18th:

  • Colorado to Utah
  • Arches National Park

Sunday Sept 19th:

  • Canyonlands National Park

Monday Sept 20th:

  • Utah to Nevada
  • Arrive near Great Basin

Tuesday Sept 21st:

  • Great Basin National Park, NV

Wednesday Sept 22nd:

  • Great Basin to Zion
  • Zion National Park

Thursday-Friday Sept 23-24:

  • Zion National Park

Sat Sept 25-Wed Sept 29th:

  • Las Vegas
  • The Traveler’s Conference

Thursday Sept 30th:

  • Drive to Grand Canyon

Friday Oct 1st:

  • North Rim Grand Canyon

Saturday Oct 2nd:

  • Grand Canyon to Page
  • Page, AZ

Sunday Oct 3rd

  • Page, AZ

Monday Oct 4th: 

  • Monument Valley
  • Drive to Mesa Verde, CO

Tuesday Oct 5th:

  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Start drive thru New Mexico

Wednesday Oct 6th:

  • Drive thru NM
  • Stop around Albuquerque NM or Amarillo TX?

Thursday Oct 7th:

  • Drive to Dallas area

Friday Oct 8th:

  • Dallas, TX

Saturday Oct 9th:

  • Houston, TX

Sunday Oct 10th:

  • Houston to New Orleans

Monday Oct 11th:

  • New Orleans, LA

Tuesday Oct 12th:

  • Drive LA to KY

Wednesday Oct 13th:

  • Mammoth Cave National Park (KY)

Thursday Oct 14th:

  • Drive home to Virginia

Do you have any suggestions for us based on our route? Will you be anywhere along our route around this timeframe and want to meet up? If so, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below on the article itself, leave a comment on our social media posts, or send us a message! We look forward to hearing from you!

Be sure to follow along with our adventures as we’ll be posting photos and updates periodically on Instagram and Facebook! We plan to write summary articles of our trip (including expenses and activities we did) afterwards! We will also make some videos on Facebook about the trip! Stay tuned :)!

7 thoughts on “Vegas Bound: 2021 Cross Country Road Trip Plans

  1. If you can, I would recommend visiting Steamboat, Colorado. Its a beautiful little ski town with some great hot springs. If you end up putting it on the map, let me know and I can send some extra recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

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